Essentialism and Constructionism

The concepts of essentialism and constructionism are far reaching. Foucault said society ‘constructs’ the homosexual (or other sexual identities) as a distinct type of person, making sexual behavior a primary marker of identity. Contemporary scientists find at least partial evidence that sexual orientation is ‘essential,’ i.e., it is a factor of genetics and hormonal events in utero. Consider other, perhaps less lofty, applications of essentialism and constructionism. According to folk wisdom, how are homosexuals ‘constructed’? And what is their essential nature, as distinct from heterosexuals? (For inspiration with these questions, consider the work of Evelyn Hooker, and the prevailing ideas that she went up against in 1950s and 1960s American psychology.) Or discuss the conundrum of bisexuality in a society insistent upon a binary construction of sexuality.

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