Professor Marshall


Sociology of Sexuality

COURSE PREREQUISITE:Introduction to Sociology

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Explore the social context of sex and gender. Investigate the wide-ranging similarities and differences in women's and men's experiences through an examination of media stereotyping, gender roles, sex segregation in the workforce, sexual politics, and the experiences of women and men in society. A contextual view of sex and gender as sociological constructs and as central organizing features of social structures. Topics to be discussed include: origins of sex/gender systems; theoretical explanations for gender inequalities; the mechanisms by which masculinity and femininity are created and maintained; variations in constructions by age, class, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation; and gendered violence.

NOTES: This course will introduce you to the study of sexuality from a sociological perspective--in this class you will be expected to learn and employ a sociological perspective on sexuality. This is neither a "preparation for marriage" course nor a course on sexual techniques; it is not intended to be therapeutic or to instruct you ethically--please consult your psychological or religious counselor for assistance in these areas.

Sociologists study real life, which is sometimes raw and which can be in direct opposition to your personal points of view. In studying real life, sociologists display a nonjudgmental stance toward the people and phenomena they study--in this class, you will be adopting this professional stance as well. If you feel it will not be possible for you to do so, please do not take the class. You may find that there will be information in this course that does not align with principles you consider important—this provides an excellent opportunity for learning.

The course begins with some basic sociological terms and concepts-these concepts are integral to your understanding of sociology (in any specialized area) from an academic perspective, and to your understanding of the sociology of sexuality. Even in covering several important themes, we will leave out more than we can learn. Understanding that sexuality is not just an academic or abstract social concept is essential; unlike our myriad public identities, our sexual identity is often very personal. As you explore sexuality throughout this sociology course, think about different and intersecting race, class, gender, and sexual identities—our own biases and stereotypes about race, class, gender and sexual identity are not always apparent to us, nor are they easy to amend.

Learning about sex and sexuality from an academic stance can be difficult and sometimes embarrassing. However, because this is a college course, my expectation is that you will engage in academic and meaningful examination about the information in this course.

This course is mapped out such that, by the end of the semester, you will be able to understand the social construction of sexuality--a concept that is continuously influenced and (re)shaped by history, current time, culture, and society. You will also be able to cite and describe important sociological theories and methodologies used to analyze human sexuality. Finally, you will be able to understand sexuality as a diverse and continuously shifting concept.


Sociology of Sexuality is written in preformance-based language using the revised Bloom's Taxonomy. This taxonomy promotes higher forms of thinking in the educational process. Below, you'll find "TARGET COMPETENCIES," and "LEARNING ACTIVITIES." The TARGET COMPETENCIES have been developed to ensure that you master the materials in this course. As you work through the LEARNING ACTIVITIES, you goal should be to demonstrate competence in each of the TARGET COMPETENCY areas. You can think of target competencies as descriptions, stated in performance terms, of what you are expected to learn; competencies are OUTCOMES of the efforts that you put forth in this course.


At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to meet specific course objectives. Course objectives are often centered on activities and assessments that you'll complete in a course. These activities and assessments will be varied--reading assigned materials and texts, writing assignments, exams, tests and other assigned activites will help you to meet the objectives that are defined for this course. Nothing in this FREE course is graded--you choose how much (or how little) work you want to complete. The course objectives are to:

  • Interpret information relating to cross-cultural, historical, and scientific dimensions of human sexuality
  • Determine influences relating to the formation of personal and social gender and sex roles throughout the life cycle
  • Assess information relating to the sexual practices and development occurring during the early stages of life
  • Summarize information relating to male and female sexual anatomy and functioning
  • Compare the positive and negative impacts of media on sexual attitudes and behaviors
  • Evaluate the issues surrounding sex and gender segregation in the workplace
  • Determine the impacts of past and current political policy on sexuality
  • Compare information relating to how people differ in their choices of sexual activities
  • Summarize the ways in which sexual attitudes and behaviors change through the life course
  • Appraise information relating to various sexual orientations, including knowledge of the way in which these differences may begin to form and to occur
  • Evaluate information relating to the attitudes, causes, prevention, and impacts of sexual violence
  • Interpret information relating to the physical and emotional factors associated with sexual dysfunctions and their treatment
  • Explain the types of sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as their symptoms, treatments, cures, and preventions within the context of impacts to society
  • Contrast information relating to the variety of birth control methods and devices available


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 

  • Classify major sociological theories relating to gender and sexuality
  • Explain influences of gender on sexuality
  • List various sociological research methods used in sex research
  • Outline cross cultural perspectives on human sexuality
  • Explain historical perspectives of human sexuality
  • Summarize prenatal influences on anatomy and gender development
  • Analyze cultural variables which influence personal choices in gender and sex-role formation
  • Compare the nature and nurture aspects of gender and sex-role creation
  • Characterize the major male and female sexual structures and their functions
  • Compare male and female circumcision/female genital mutilation (FGM) processes
  • Explain the impacts of contemporary media trends with regard to sexuality
  • Characterize the connections between concepts of masculinity/femininity and media mechanisms
  • Articulate the significance of the Industrial Revolution on contemporary sex segregation in the workforce
  • Explain how significant social events (wars, social movements, etc.) contribute to our acceptance or rejection of sex segregation in the workplace
  • Assess the impacts of historical and contemporary federal and state laws on sexuality
  • Explain the meaning of the body as a political entity
  • Characterize early genital and non-genital sexual experiences regarding their causes and effects
  • Characterize the role of masturbation in sexual development
  • Analyze attitudes toward pre-marital sex
  • Describe personal and cultural motivations which contribute to sexual behavior
  • Define the paraphilias (fetishes)
  • Document factors involved in transsexualism
  • Explain how the paraphilias can become social problems (e.g., incest, pedophilia)
  • Evaluate social and personal factors relating to prostitution
  • Compare attitudes about extra-marital sexual relationships and serial monogamy
  • Identify issues related to sex which occur as we age
  • Examine societal attitudes concerning heterosexuality and homosexuality
  • Identify major stereotypes of male and female sexuality
  • Articulate various forms of sexuality
  • Interpret major theoretical perspectives on homosexuality
  • Verify major research findings on homosexuality
  • Explore the major sociological perspectives regarding the various forms of sexual violence
  • Recognize motivations of perpetrators of sexual violence
  • Characterize the effectiveness of sexual violence treatment programs
  • Explore social and personal reactions to sexual violence
  • Examine the impacts of sexual harassment
  • Categorize major sexually transmitted diseases
  • Ascertain methods of transmission, and treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Appraise myths, methods of transmission, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Classify common forms of birth control (including but not limited to the Pill, the Intrauterine Device IUD, the diaphragm, condoms, douching methods, spermicides, withdrawal and rhythm)


ATTENDANCE: This course is self-paced and not graded; it is NOT for college credit. There is no enrollment required and you may take as much time as you need to complete the course.

END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT: All handouts and electronic course materials are the property of their respective copyright holders. Use is permitted within the confines of this course and for the exclusive use of the student after completion of the course. Distribution to others is expressly prohibited and may be a violation of state/federal laws, unless following the license terms at the bottom of this page; this includes any uploading to public or private websites or other methods of electronic distribution which violate the license terms at the bottom of this page. Should you violate this agreement I reserve the right to pursue legal action under current state and federal laws. If you have any questions or concerns about your use of materials found in this course, contact me at