The New Gay Teenager Report
Updated: Apr 24th, 2019
In his book “The New Gay Teenager” Ritch Savin Williams explores the different what being a “gay” adolescent is like in the world today with the media playing a greater role in how being a homosexual is interpreted by society (O’Conner 2005).
He explores how the concept of being gay is slowly changing as a result of pop culture influences brought about by the media which in effect has created a whole new generation of gays completely separate from the previous generation in terms of behavioral aspects and established norms (Williams 2005).
He elaborates on the concept of the creation of the gay adolescent as the result of prevailing literature during the 1970’s portraying gayness as being potentially self-destructive and classifying such individuals as being mentally ill.
He goes on to elaborate on how the adolescents of today are growing up in a much different world as compared to that of previous generations of gay and lesbian individuals where being gay is more socially acceptable as compared to previous decades.
Finally, toward the end of the book, Williams states his hope that within his lifetime he hopes to see the elimination of biases placed on same sex relationships with it being relegated to normal behavior.
Main question addressed by this book
Is the concept of being gay changing in teenage society as a result of pop culture influences and the media?
Main Argument/ Central Thesis of the Book
Teenagers are rejecting the biases associated with gender categories in order to pursue satisfying sexual relationships with same sex partners as a direct result of media influences.
Most important empirical/ theoretical claim
The author posits the idea that being gay is slowly losing the distinction of being abnormal as the influences of pop culture and the media slowly changes public perception. This is especially true among teenagers which results in a greater level of acceptability towards homosexual behavior. As a result individuals are no longer “embarrassed” to be gay since it is slowly becoming a more socially acceptable trend which as a result has created a distinct upswing in the amount of same sex attractions between young individuals.
Relating the content of the book to ideas of Social Inequality and Sexuality
Williams claims that as a result of media influences the “New Gay teenager” is an individual that will be attracted to both girls and boys with terms such as “gay” being irrelevant to public discourse. He claims that there is a growing trend of teenagers becoming bisexual with lines existing between being gay and straight slowly being blurred over time with individuals coming to terms with the duality of this unique behavioral nature that they have acquired.
This creates a situation where an individual has sexual relationships with both males and females without any apparent guilt as to the possible views society has towards his/her behavior due to the increasing general acceptance of being bi-sexual. As a result, this has created a type of dramatic shift between the older generation of gays that had fixed sexual orientations with that of the newer generation of gay teens that view gender categories as being unimportant in the long run due to their own views regarding bisexual orientations.
On page 18 of this book Williams specifically states “the success of the entertainment industry in presenting and hence normalizing same-sex desire has had an incalculable impact on the ability of adolescents to understand their own emerging sexual desires” (Williams 2005).
Based on this statement it can be stated that the entertainment industry has greatly affected the concept of gender norms, sexuality and homophobia by effectively creating a social trend wherein gender categories are no longer considered of great importance and in effect are replaced with open acceptance of bi-sexual behavior. In a sense it could be considered the end of the category of being “gay” since it would be considered normal for individuals to love either men or women.
Weaknesses in the book
The one weakness in the book is the favorable use of the work of Dr. Sandfort without showing that Sandfort was in fact part of the pedophile movement. This is evidence of the distinctly propagandist nature of the writings of Williams which fails to take into account other possibilities in relation to the development of human sexuality through the media.
O’Connor, Elizabeth. “Homosexuality & Bisexuality.” Mental Help. Center Site, 2005. Web.<https://www.mentalhelp.net/>
Williams Savin, Ritch. The New Gay Teenager, 2005. Harvard University Press
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Updated: Apr 24th, 2019 In his book “The New Gay Teenager” Ritch Savin Williams explores the different what being a “gay” adolescent is like in the world today with the […]