This proposed book is an anthology of both original and reprinted articles on sexuality from a sociological perspective. The readings in this collection focus on the diverse and multi-layered meanings of sexuality, sexual behaviors and sexual identities. The essays in this book will explore sexuality as a social process. As a whole, the book takes the perspective that what each of us understands to be sexual is constructed through everyday social processes and interaction, situated in particular spaces and moments, identified through our social-sexual presentations, and symbolized through language, objects and practices. The book is organized around these four distinct but interrelated processes, and augmented by personal narratives around relevant issues. The purpose of this book is to broaden students' perspectives on sexuality by providing them with a consistent framework to help them understand sexualities as social phenomena. The authors' goals for the book are: to engage students in the sociological enterprise by providing interesting and insightful entries that emphasize the importance of meaning-making in human sexuality, and to provide them with conceptual tools to understand human sexuality in a complex and quickly-changing sexual landscape.

Sex as Theater: Action, Character, and the Erotic*

Sex as theater: Action, character, and the erotic
Charles Edgley

We are in this together, my dear. All damned to the theater. Condemned to live through our art. For we do not know how to live through our lives—we are islands.

From the film Trust the Man (2005)

ACT I

Preliminaries

Appearance and the Sexual Self

Sex as theater? Absurd, you say. Theater is public. Sex is private—at least most of the time—and we are no more inclined to see sex as a staged activity than we are of seeing ourselves as actors on a stage. But before we dismiss the idea too quickly, let us run through a daring thought experiment. Here, we'll try to think of ...

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