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Sexuality The Oedipus Complex and Social Constructionist Theory

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Freud’s perspective on sexuality unlike other approaches focuses on the sexual orientation of the child. He distinguished a child sucking a mother’s breast as the first form of infantile eroctical. The Oedipus complex contributes immensely to Freud’s argument about sexuality. It suggests that the child becomes unconsciously sexually attached to his mother and hostile to his father. Nevertheless, the oedipus complex doesn’t consider female sexuality. It only forces the rivalry between the young boy and his father as well as the competition the father and son have in order to have the mother’s love. Eventually, the baby comes to understand that the father is more dominant and aspires to be like him. As it is centred around the baby boy and the attention her forces on his mother Freud’s oedipus complex is criticized by many feminists. Overall, Freud’s perspective on sexuality focuses on the sexual nature of the child. He mentions the hatred the child has for the parent of the same sex and the love is has for the opposite sex parent. But, the oedipus complex fails to consider female sexuality and therefore it is criticised by many feminists.

The social constructionist theory when referring to sexuality and identity suggest that categories e.g. “heterosexual” and “homosexual” have ultimately become central to how we understand sexuality. When asked about your sexuality automatically someone’s sexual orientation becomes relevant. Sexuality is not just solely about someone’s emotional and sexual attraction to a particular sex, rather it could also refer to the ability of humans to engage in sexually stimulating experiences and sexuality can be expressed in plenty of ways e.g. behaviours, fantasties. Sexuality’s purpose is beyond reproduction. It is also about how we receive pleasure from our own bodies, “Sexual life includes the function of obtaining pleasure from zones of the body- a function which is subsequently brought into the service of reproduction. The two functions often fail to coincide completely”. This reinforces the idea that sexuality is beyond reproduction. Additionally, the social constructionist view of sexuality away from debate of the biological basis of sexual desire. It rather foregrounds that all labels in society and their attached meanings are found in a particular socio-cultural and historical context. They are socially constructed; they are human-made creations. 

Foucault argues that sexuality is classified and understood in our culture as more than simply sexual actspractices but as a disposition, an identity. It is what we are, not just what we do. “Sexual meanings, sexual doctrines, and sexual beings have been generated incessantly by a culture that has come to be obsessed with the significance of the sexual, has elevated it to unprecedented dimensions. This further reinforces Foucault’s argument that sexuality is classified and understood in our culture as more than simply sexual acts but it is apart of our identity. This is mentioned ”homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy into a hermaphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was a species’. He mentions the influence major institutions e.g. religion, family, law, have on someone’s identity. In the 19th century homosexuality was a crime, therefore people were forced to alter their identities in order from them to be accepted within society.

To conclude, the social constructionist theory when explaining sexuality and identity suggest that categories and labels e.g. “heterosexual” and “homosexual” have become fundamental to how we understand sexuality.The Oedipus complex is one more way to explaine the nature of different sexuality and how it appears. Sexuality has become more about someone’s sexual orientation than about engaging in sexual stimulating experences and expressing behaviours and fantasties.

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Sexuality the Oedipus Complex and Social Constructionist Theory. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from
“Sexuality the Oedipus Complex and Social Constructionist Theory.” GradesFixer, 30 Aug. 2022,
Sexuality the Oedipus Complex and Social Constructionist Theory. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2022].
Sexuality the Oedipus Complex and Social Constructionist Theory [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 30 [cited 2022 Sept 22]. Available from:
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