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An Overview of Being Different and the Topic of Sexual Orientation

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Everything that you know and are used to is considered the normal. Everything that you are not used to and is new to you is considered the other. Oxford English Dictionary defines otherness as, “The quality or fact of being different.” Zygmunt Bauman defines otherness as the central way in which societies establish identity categories. He says that the other is necessary to have order. The kinds of otherness are ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national identity, and cultural identity. Two of them are race and gender. Society is structured around these two kinds of otherness, sexual orientation and gender.

Sexual orientation is defined as a person’s sexual identity in relation to which gender they are attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, or bisexual. The normal people in this case would be the straight people. The people that are homosexual or bisexual would be considered the other in society. In the article, “Homosexuality: A Call to Otherness,” author Elizabeth Scalia says that some people spent their entire lives being the normal, but to the eyes of others, the homosexuals have become the other. Asexual people would be the other because they don’t have any feelings toward anything or anyone. In the eyes of a straight person, the asexual person would be the other. In the article the author states that “…some of us spent our whole lives emphasizing our sameness, and now you’re calling out our ‘otherness’…” In the eyes of the homosexuals, they are the normal and everybody else around them would be the other. In the Lexington Herald Leader, there was an article about a t-shirt company refusing to print t-shirts for a gay/lesbian group. This would be an example of otherness because the t-shirt company is the normal and the gay/lesbian group is the other. The other is discriminated against because religious people thinks it is against their religion or some people think a couple is only a man and a woman, nothing more, nothing less. But, like what Scalia said, the gay couple might have spent their entire lives being gay and might consider themselves the norm. But all of a sudden, people come up to them and tell them that they’re the other. According to Bauman, the other is necessary for the normal to have the power. The heterosexuals who have lived their entire life as a straight person may judge the homosexual or bisexual person. They would be more powerful than the homosexual. But if everyone in the world was heterosexual, then there would be no other and the heterosexuals wouldn’t have any power.

Something closely related to sexual orientation is gender. Gender has become a big part of society because of the way people think about certain genders. Gender is defined as behaviors and attitudes a group of people considers proper for its males and females. In chapter 7 of the book, Ender’s Game, Petra would be considered the other because she’s a girl. Petra says that the boys put her in the bunk by the door so she wouldn’t start a rebellion. This shows Petra as the other because she could be part of the outside group wanting to take control of everyone else. In real life, the common thought that men are more superior is another example of otherness. In an article called, “Female Discrimination in the Workplace,” an example is that women don’t get picked for jobs requiring a lot of physical labor because their employers do not think they can handle it. In the work place, men think that women would be the other because the man is favored over the woman. In the view of the women, the man would be the other and the women would be the normal. But there has to be otherness in the situation because then one side will have the power over the other. In the workplace, the woman is necessary for the man to have the power to make decisions when he hires a worker. These are just some of the examples of otherness through gender.

Of the many kinds that make up otherness, two kinds I talked about are sexual orientation and gender. Sexual orientation is the person’s sexual identity in relation to which gender they are attracted such as homosexual, asexual, bisexual, or straight. Gender is whether you are a male or a female. Zygmunt Bauman says that the other is necessary for the normal to have power. He says that the other is necessary in sustaining social order. These are two kinds of otherness that modern society is surrounded around, sexual orientation and gender.

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