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Please see instructions in attachments.… this is a link to the bookI will also attach lecture slides that are needed to write the essay, please tie back to concepts in lectures in analysis.Make sure to include the concept of “interactive determinism” in “2-28-3-5 Negotiating Religious Sexuality Online” lecture slide (page 19).


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Sociology 167: Virtual Communities/Social Media
Spring 2019
Take-Home Midterm
Due: Thursday, March 21 at 11:59pm on bCourses
Follow the directions below carefully. You should write a cohesive essay with an
introduction and conclusion.
Essay must be written in your own words and be your own work–no collaboration
with other students is allowed. Work must be original; you may not re-use essays
or parts of essays submitted for credit in another course.
You may use quotes sparingly.
Your paper should be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, 12-point font, and
should not exceed 5 pages.
Define and explain any concepts you use in your own words. Be sure to use
specific evidence and arguments from the readings.
The Social Construction of Evangelical Sexuality Online
Burke: Christians Under Covers
First: Evangelical sexuality websites demonstrate the components of
community laid out by Baym (“Chapter 4: Communities and Networks”)
including shared values, beliefs, and culture; shared resources and support;
and shared identities.
What are the shared values/beliefs and identity related to evangelical
Christianity and sexuality? Be specific.
Why do websites like provide a source of support
unavailable outside the virtual context?
Soc 167: Spring 2019
Jill Bakehorn
University of California, Berkley
1 of 2
Next: Explain the basic tenets of the social construction of reality by
drawing upon Berger and Luckmann. (You may also draw on lecture).
How do the websites Burke studied demonstrate how reality is constructed
via interactions? How is “the logic of godly sex” interactively negotiated or
determined? Be sure to define and discuss interactive determinism and
interactive predestination. What is the role of “spiritual capital”?
Finally: What are the “regulatory systems of power and inequality” that
shape and constrain these interactions? How does “the logic of godly sex”
both challenge and reproduce inequality?
In your conclusion, be sure to tie all three sections together. What does this
study tell us about how virtual communities members collectively construct
reality and the limitations imposed by external forces?

Should be a cohesive essay with introduction and conclusion
Should be your own work; you may not collaborate; must be original
Quotes can be used sparingly (should not be used to define concepts)
Essay should not exceed 5 pages double-spaced
Standard one-inch margins
Pages should be numbered
Name should be on top of first page
Should be .doc or .docx file
Be sure to carefully edit your paper for spelling, grammar and typos
Cite your sources!
Include a bibliography
Soc 167: Spring 2019
Jill Bakehorn
University of California, Berkley
2 of 2
Thursday, February 21
Introducing Christians
Under Covers

Online activities of evangelical Christians negotiating
issues of religion and sexual practices

“How explicit talk about sex…is linked to the construction
of gender and sexual norms alongside religious faith” (18).
Evangelical Christianity

Conservative offshoot of Protestantism:

Believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible

There is only one God

God is the highest law

Salvation though Jesus Christ alone

Spreading the religion to others

Often: traditional American values
Evangelical Christianity

“Individuals themselves shape their religious experiences
in profound ways, for it is one’s own relationship with God
that acts as the primary religious authority in one’s
life” (15).

Opening story: Samantha’s sex toy shop

Why might some find Samantha’s story surprising?

Religion and sex “are often pitted against one another”

“How do they wrestle with these conflicting ideas?”

“The internet is like a book that is constantly being
rewritten by a collective of ordinary believers, each with
unique experiences and perspectives” (3).

Websites don’t just reflect mainstream and religious ideas
about sexuality—they are productive of them.

Become performative spaces

Reference groups: They are the point of reference for
the evaluation and management of our behavior in a
particular setting

The logic of godly sex: “combines traditional and modern
ideas: belief in an uncompromising truth about who can
have sex (only married, monogamous heterosexuals) and
in subjective sexual experiences that depend upon
individual choice and taste” (4).

These online discussions both reproduce and challenge
heteronormativity and gender inequality

Sociological underpinnings:

Interactions shape social realities

Interactions are structured by systems of power and
Doing Gender

Gender is an “accomplishment”

Gender is not just an individual variable or role

Gender *itself* is constituted through interactions

Gender is created in interactions and also structures
Doing Gender

We are always accountable for our gender

We engage in behavior at the risk of gender assessment

Doing gender is unavoidable
Doing Gender

Doing gender means creating differences which reinforces
the naturalness of gender

We become self-regulating–we monitor our own conduct
Doing Gender

When we do gender appropriately, we sustain, reproduce,
and legitimate the gendered social structure
Social Construction of

Focuses on cultural and historical context in which
sexuality is learned and enacted (Judith Lorber)

Sexualities are socially shaped and socially learned

Gender and sexual identities are social and political
Social Construction of

We must learn what feelings/desires count as sexual

“Sexual scripts tell us where, when, and with whom…
we are supposed to have sex, and what it means when
we do” (Simon and Gagnon)
Social Construction of

Definitions of the kinds of sexualities that are possible

What is appropriate; sexy and attractive

Connecting behavior to identities
Doing Religion

“How people actively construct their religious identity”
by managing their conduct in light of their identity

“…Religion does not exist prior to or outside of the
ways in which people practice it” (7).

We “do” gender, sexuality, and religion in our everyday
interactions, but each is governed by larger systems.

Gender hegemony operates by naturalizing sociallyproduced gender differences, thus legitimating and
justifying gender inequality

Heteronormativity: “the cultural, legal, and institutional
practices that maintain normative assumptions that
there are only two genders, that gender reflects
biological sex, and that only sexual attraction between
these “opposite” genders is natural or
acceptable” (Schilt and Westbrook).

Heterosexual matrix: masculinity and femininity are
opposite, complementary, unequal, heterosexual (Judith

Heterosexuality depends upon gender and also
produces it

Christian hegemony in the US: Protestant morality is
seen as “normal” and is important in constructing
normative gender and sexuality

How do Americans define heterosexuality today?
Heterosexual Identity

The modern definition of heterosexuality differs from the
19th century

Reproductive drive; not an identity

Seeking sex for pleasure was abnormal

There could be no heterosexual identity until there was
a homosexual identity

Once the homosexual was invented, heterosexuality
lost its exclusive connection to reproduction
Heterosexual Identity

How did heterosexuality go from a reproductive
instinct to an identity?

Breaking down of traditional gender roles

If you view heterosexuality as natural—then the
differences between men and women are natural

A heterosexual identity is associated with normative
gender identity

When websites push boundaries around gender and
sexuality, they also undermine heterosexuality as “natural”
and the “norm.”

“What is left to define heterosexuality when contemporary
representations of sexuality dissociate opposite-sex
attraction from gender roles, sex practices, marriage, and
family?” (5).

For users of website: tied to religious faith

How does the Internet complicate the notions of
“doing” gender, sexuality, and religion?
Tuesday, February 26 + Thursday, February 28
Making Godly Sex
The Logic of Godly Sex

Contradictions of evangelical sexuality:

“While God designed pleasure to be a part of sex,
Christian couples likely could not achieve that pleasure
on their own” (30).

Where to seek guidance?
The Logic of Godly Sex

The logic of godly sex: “reflecting traditional beliefs about
gender and sexuality but accommodating a contemporary
understanding of sexual identities, practices, and desires”
The Logic of Godly Sex

Central to the logic of godly sex is the idea that Christian
married couples have the right to “good sex.” What is the
dual meaning of good sex?
The Logic of Godly Sex

Who restrictions: limits on whom we may take as partners

How restrictions: limits on what we may touch, when we
may touch, with what frequency, etc.
The Logic of Godly Sex

Contradictions in the logic of godly sex:

“Religious beliefs…are objective and…non-negotiable

“Free will, autonomy, and personal taste”

Sexuality is both god-given and potentially sinful
The Logic of Godly Sex

What is the “inhibition paradox”?
The Logic of Godly Sex

What are the core evangelical beliefs about sexuality
and gender?

“They can use their theological foundations to justify
participating in some of the spoils of sexualized secular
culture. Conservative Christians believe they can indulge
in their sexual desires in order to achieve personal,
marital, and spiritual fulfillment” (43).
The Logic of Godly Sex

While restrictive of who is allowed to have sex, is also
constructed as open in terms of what is permissible
within heterosexual monogamous marriage.

Emphasize individual tastes and choice
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Choice

Abstinence campaigns use rhetoric to challenge the
idea that sex is inevitable among teens:

Frame teens as agents with the power to control their

Secular world: teens lack agency and choice around
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Choice

How rhetoric operates to symbolically construct
abstinence as a choice:

Teenagers as autonomous agents “with the power to

Teenagers as a victims in order to create the symbolism
of the reclamation of power and agency

Rhetorical space to persuade students to choose
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Choice

“The claim of agency from a self-proclaimed stance of
victim…rhetorically constructs a type of rebirth that is
more powerful than mere agency. Portraying the rest of
society as hypersexualized and evangelicals as
marginalized creates rhetorical space for evangelicals to
reclaim power and to motivate a generation of young
people to make the right choices with their bodies” (26).
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Choice

Offering only one choice, but rhetoric helps them
construct teenagers as “choice-making individuals”

Borrows from popular culture and feminism

“My body, my choice”
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Choice

Campaigns deal with the issue of “the wrong choice” by
constructing positive messages

Focus on purity rather than abstinence

Contributes to constructing teens as active agents

Purity gives them something to strive for
Making Abstinence SExy:
Rhetoric of Marriage

Rhetoric of marriage: Perfect wedding is “a tangible
symbol for the campaigns’ goal of the good
marriage” (47). Marriage the reward for abstinence.

Waiting to have sex until marriage will ensure a good

Rhetoric of the gift: virginity is the best gift you can give
to your spouse
The Logic of Godly Sex

Choice is emphasized

What constitutes acceptable sexual activity?

“Choice is framed within a level playing field so that those
who choose to commit sins can be held accountable for
their actions” (48).
The Logic of Godly Sex

Discourse of evangelical sexuality: “Christians who write
about sexual pleasure tell believers what they should
experience sexually and how to interpret these
experiences…Those who set the terms of godly sexuality
define what sex is according to religious beliefs” (52).
The Logic of Godly Sex

“Online dialogue allows ordinary believers to collectively
work to present sexuality in ways evangelical authors or
preachers likely did not anticipate. These Christians use
the logic of godly sex to integrate their sexual desires,
practices, and identities into their moral framework. In
doing so, website creators and users expand and
simultaneously maintain the boundaries of religion and
heterosexuality” (53).
Thursday, February 28 + Tuesday, March 5
Negotiating Religious Sexuality
1. Using Religion to Talk About Sex
2. Virtual and Virtuous: Forming Online Religious Communities
Using Religion to Talk About

How do “ordinary people” establish their religious
authority on the websites?

How do website creators avoid the “risks” of the internet?
Using Religion to Talk About

They are “combining religious and secular ideas to
privilege their status as married, monogamous,
heterosexual Christians and making their sex lives appear
to be without limits because they obediently live within
God’s rules about sexuality” (57).
Using Religion to Talk About

What is spiritual capital?

From Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital

Cultural Capital: Class-based knowledge, skills, and
cultural competencies; a worldview passed on via
Cultural Capital

Knowledge/skills that are socially valued and confer

Dominant cultural capital is valued and unevenly
distributed. Helps explain persistent inequality.
Using Religion to Talk About

Spiritual capital is religious-based knowledge that confers
value and prestige—distinction.

Establishes authority in the absence of formal
Using Religion to Talk About

What are the three aspects of spiritual capital?

Personal piety

Why are women more likely than men to run
these sites?
Using Religion to Talk About

What are the three aspects of spiritual capital?

Marital exceptionalism
Using Religion to Talk About

What are the three aspects of spiritual capital?

Marital exceptionalism

How did the website deal with the
dilemma of the risks of erotica?
Using Religion to Talk About

Marital exceptionalism does not mean that they can
control how the material is used or by whom. How do
website creators deal with this?

God’s omniscience
Using Religion to Talk About

Connect to Baym’s list of characteristics of virtual

Not simply reflecting religious beliefs—they are helping to
actively shape them.

“Lived religion”
Forming Online Religious

Internet is an interactive, collaborative, and anonymous

How do website users form a sense of community?

Us v. Them
Symbolic Boundaries

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) French sociologist

Collective conscience: beliefs and moral underpinnings
of society that bind people together

Religion uses signs and symbols as symbolic
boundaries to separate sacred and profane

Symbolic boundaries help reinforce differences
between insiders and outsiders
Symbolic Boundaries

Symbolic Boundaries: conceptual distinctions used to
categorize objects, people, practices

Separate people into groups

Part of the process of defining the self

Enforce collective norms; develop a sense of group
Forming Online Religious

Symbolic boundaries are drawn between Christians and

Aside from explicit rules, how are boundaries
Forming Online Religious

How do members prove they belong?
Forming Online Religious

How do members demonstrate their piety in their
discussions of sexuality?
Forming Online Religious

How does the case of Girl_Of_God demonstrate the
importance of the concept of salvation?

How do users deal with issues of trust and deception?
Forming Online Religious

What is interactive determinism?
Forming Online Religious

Researchers study how subcultural authenticity and
symbolic boundaries are created, maintained, negotiated,
and displayed

Great deal of struggle over meaning within subcultures

What constitutes membership in a particular

How is identity formed and contested within the
Forming Online Religious

Websites operate as places of “interactive predestination”

The logic of godly sex puts an emphasis on “individual
tastes and choices”, but the users need others make
sense of their religious and sexual identities
Forming Online Religious

“On the surface, godly sex is malleable….Its logic is
situational rather than universal, evolving rather than
static. Yet it is a social and utterly human process that
legitimizes godly sex for website users and maintains
boundaries between others not like them” (107).
Tuesday, March 5 + Thursday, March 7
Women and the Logic
of Godly Sex

How are women encouraged to think about pleasure?

What is the narrative frame used to discuss women’s

What are the obstacles to pleasure cited on websites?

How is pleasure achieved within the narrative of the
sexual awakening?

How is masturbation justified?

How is pleasure defined in such a way as to include

How do narratives of sexual awakening reinforce
gender difference and inequality?

How does this reflect postfeminism?
Feminism and Postfeminism

Postfeminism: feminism has been successful and is no
longer needed

Postfeminism co-opts aspects of feminism

Freedom of choice: work, domesticity, parenting

Physical and sexual empowerment
Feminism and Postfeminism
Political action/political movements
Political solutions
The personal is political
Agenda is replaced by attitude
Critique of patriarchy
Rejection of blame of patriarchy
Choice is collective
Choice is individual
Rejection/questioning of femininity
Return to femininity
• Compulsory sexual agency: empowerment is
equated with sexuality and sexual expression and
is an entitlement, and it is up to the individual to
choose this empowerment within the context of
conservative Christianity
• “Being ‘sexually awakened’ means experiencing
pleasure within a very specific, male-dominated
context” (112).
• Evangelical beliefs:
• Structure their understandings and experiences of
their bodies and sexuality
• Shapes how they tell their stories online, and how
they feel
• But the women also draw upon feminism and
secular culture in constructing …
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