Sexuality as a Subject of Inquiry

Gender studies emerged from the need to analyze how gender, sex and sexuality impact our lives, especially how it creates gender inequality. It came about in the mid 1970’s after the second wave of feminism as a way to challenge the male-defined and male-centered knowledge.

Gender roles/ Sex roles:
Are “sets of culturally defined behaviors such as masculinity and femininity” according to the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender (2019). These roles are not fixed. In a binary system of viewing gender roles, we only see the male and the female where men are expected to be masculine while women are expected to be feminine. This is the norm or the accepted standards oh how to behave like a woman (mahinhin) or how to behave like a man (matipuno). Gender roles are socially constructed and are not something we are born with. Society, through a lifelong process of normalization, encourages or reprimand behaviors to make a child adapt to these social expectations.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often do not fit in the traditional binary gender roles so they are often reprimanded, bullied and discriminated.

Gender Studies:
Is not just for women or all about women, it is about everyone. It explores how our gender roles have changed throughout our history and how it created inequalities. Gender studies would ask us to question, is it still right to say that the men are the providers of the family when both mothers and fathers now work and earn money.

Gender Studies and Research:
As a subject of inquiry, gender studies utilize a systematic approach in identifying problems, making hypotheses and assumptions, gathering data, and making conclusions. This systematic process is referred to as the research process.

Approaches in Research
Qualitative Approach focuses more on the meaning created and interpretation made by people about their own personal or vicarious experiences. Some of the methods used in qualitative approach are as follows:

*Phenomenology – Conducting intensive interviews with individuals who have experienced a particular event and understanding their lived experience.
*Hermeneutics – Understanding the meaning of texts and what they convey about human realities; and
*Ethnography and Ethnomethodology – Immersing in a community and taking note of their experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and practices.

Quantitative Approach:
Focuses more on characterizing a population (total number of people) or a sample (sub-group within the population) and in some cases, making generalizations about the population based on the behavior of a sample. Some of the methods used in quantitative approach are as follows:
Survey– Collecting information from a sample
Experiment – Creating actual set-ups to observe behavior of people in an experimental group and comparing it to the behavior of people in a control group.

Ethics in Gender and Sexuality Research:
There are some principles to remember in conducting gender and sexuality researches. The following are the principles to remember:
Informed Consent – Researches should make sure that the participants in the study are aware of the purpose and processes of the study they are participating in. They should also ensure that only those participants who agree in writing will be included, and that they should not force any participant to join.
Confidentiality and anonymity – Researchers should not reveal any information provided by the participants, much so their identity to anyone who are not concerned with the study.
Non-Maleficence and Beneficence – A study should not harm anyone especially in researches involving humans, a study should be left beneficial for it to be worth implementing.
Distributive Justice – Any study should not disadvantage a particular group especially the marginalized and the oppressed.

Gender, Sexuality and Human Ecology;
Human Ecology, as a field, recognizes the interplay among internal and external environments – physical, socio-economic, cultural (Bronfennbrenner 1994; Bubolz and Sontag 1983). Hence, to look at realities from an ecological perspective is to appreciate that human development across lifespan is influenced by these environments. In the context of gender and sexuality, a human ecological approach looks at human sexual lives and experiences at various levels and spheres of analysis.


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