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Joseph Kaminski

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November 20, 2017

The Postmodernization of Sex, Gender, and HIV


The Postmodernization of Sex and Gender by William Simon is an interesting example on how modern idealism has changed over time. Postmodernism is essentially the modern-day brain-child of Western philosophy which focuses on the “construction of truth” throughout world views, religion, and identity. When understanding the “truth”, one must be willing to accept newly furnished ideas as scientific and psychological theories are accepted.

Essentially, we’re merely existing in a transitional era between traditional processes and the acceptance of new ideals – one in which ‘gay rights’ are rampantly going down in history as some sort of ‘Second Civil Rights’ movement and the definition of ‘gender’ is being reconstructed to include an assortment of newly discovered – or, for a better term, accepted – identities within Western society.

As stated by Simon, “despite the panic provided by the spread of HIV infection, homosexuality has entered the suburbs of respectability”. This is a prime example of mindsets not only changing but conforming to the opinion of the masses. The postmodernity of gender and sex is just a shadowy era of contemporary issues that will eventually be categorized into our history.

“Two lines of development that can be seen as products of postmodernity [would be] psychology and pluralization”. Both psychology and pluralization are being used against and between the individuals within a society, and the more postmodern constructs are continuing to blur the lines of traditionalism and modernization – or, as some would call it, progressivism. Thus, with this ideology under Simon’s belt, it is easy to see how pro-Postmodernization his article on sex and gender construction is.

Recall back to the aforementioned HIV epidemic, which led to rampant homophobia and political confusion in a time that needed scientific funding and cultural understanding. It wasn’t until famed and respected celebrities reported having the so-called ‘Gay Cancer’ before society started realizing that it wasn’t such a negatively-backed disease.

Rock Hudson

Rock Hudson.

Perhaps the greatest example of this ‘movement’ in society would be the case of Rock Hudson – the tall, rugged, Hollywood-backed ladies’ man who dominated the film scene throughout the height of the Cold War. Rock Hudson was a conservative hero – the pure definition of twentieth century masculinity; and then, in 1985 he became the first of many Hollywood celebrities to perish from complications from the culturally taboo “AIDS” virus.

His announcement – followed by a rather quick death – shocked the conservative-majority nation. The world thought of a stereotypical homosexual when it came to the construct of sex and gender; and it became fairly clear that people like Hudson closely held onto their sexua

l deviancy. Perhaps sexuality didn’t matter since it didn’t matter outside of the spotlight…what a concept, right? Regardless, Hudson became one of the first majorly accepted cases within the epidemic – and it slowly chipped away at the icy shoulders of traditionalists who blocked funding and education on the subject.

I’d like to refer to M. Scott Peck’s Choosing a Map for Life. As stated by Peck, “[…] and they’re no longer interested in new information”. It feels as if this quote directly ties into the construct of ‘gender’ in postmodernism. The Postmodernization of Sex and Gender, focuses on the social construction of defining a gender and the “continuing process of negotiation […] between the individual and the world, [and] also between different constructions of the self” (Simon, 157). One intriguing contrast between these two texts would be how more and more people are willing to accept new information on social construction when it personally affects them, or when new information that appears relevant becomes well-known…as we witness with the case study of Rock Hudson.

We’re even seeing ‘gender identity’ escape from the ‘traditional’ constructs of sex as well, with feminism on a ‘third wave rise’ into normality once again – “History tends to not only repeat itself, but to not repeat the opportunities it presents.” The world is changing in numerous amounts of unprecedented and unanticipated ways – to the point where we do need to stand back and “de-confuse” the modern format that is stampeding over its predecessors. To simply summarize these changes as repetition rather than rhyming would be a major philosophical flaw.

As culture changes, culture has to adapt as well – and thus we see generational differences in terms of racial, sexual, and religious acceptance that hasn’t necessarily been seen to such a degree that we see today. Think about the mass media’s obsession with “millennials are killing ‘x’ industry” articles; mostly and usually written by members of the generation that murdered the social spending of America, crashed the housing industry, killed the living wage, and raped the environment.

With technology on an increasingly and somewhat alarming rise – perhaps the largest reason as to why there is such a large shift in today’s world – the once privatized “personal life” has been broadcasted live on social media platforms, live video blogging, and instant messaging. Postmodernization takes a step back and attempts to freeze frame this message to showcase drastic change – and, as many philosophers in the last two units identified, oftentimes falls short of its initial goal. However, with the ‘psychology’ and ‘pluralization’ of postmodernity changing just as rapidly as the culture revolving around such contemporary issues, there is no reason to believe that this era – the one we are lucky enough to be a part of – will go down in the books as a rather special one.

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