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September 7, 2013

Essay on Extramarital Sex as Deviant Behavior

Deviance is the set of behaviors and states that members of a group deemed inconsistent with their expectations, their standards or their values ​​and, thus, may generate their share of condemnation and sanctions. The same can be applied to extramarital sexual relationships. According to constructionist thought, any social phenomena such extramarital sex should be viewed in its social context. This is to say that such a tendency and phenomenon is socially constructed therefore the focus should be on its dependence on contingent variables of our social selves. On the other hand, essentialism contends that it is the inherent quality of any action of phenomenon. Any phenomenon such as extramarital sex or homosexuality is independent of conscious beings that determine the categorical structure of reality.

This means that the sociologist considers deviant actions and ways of being that are frowned upon and punished by most members of a group. This definition is not without ambiguities. We will try to dispel with the awareness that it is probably impossible to formulate a definition of deviance, which would be totally transparent. Sexual deviance is a complex issue deviance and conformity are intertwined with each other.

However, it is an ongoing quest, vain and endless. That is why this frantic quest that explains all the forms and practices of sexual deviance that we see now should be examined, the term designating deviance everything that deviates from the norm accepted and recognized by the social group that is likely to generate the transformation of part or all of the company. 

Certain prevalent sexual practices can be considered as deviant including extramarital sex.Over the centuries, men have devised the most outlandish practices, and often degrading to their bodies, to obtain sexual pleasure at any price. Among the many practices we can mention a few: prostitution, homosexuality, extramarital sex, bisexuality, trans-sexuality, pedophilia, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism (SM), voyeurism, orgies, swinging, cybersex, pink lines, masturbation, striptease, exhibitionism, etc.
Deviance appears immediately as an activity that disappoints an expectation that violates a social norm or denying a value. The notion of deviancy presupposes a normative activity. We cannot talk about criminal, heretic, a lunatic, or evil if you do not have previously fairly clear ideas about right and wrong on the right and wrong, on the normal and the pathological, about good and evil. A deviant act is first an act blamed and it cannot be if we had started as a concept of what is blameworthy or not.

               However, the normative universe of a group is rarely a consistent and easily identifiable. Most expectations are implicit and changing. If certain standards are uncontested, others are accepted by some and dismissed by others. Finally, the reference group is often difficult to identify in a world where most people belong simultaneously to multiple social units with very different standards. This means that the distinction between deviance and non-deviance is likely to be problematic and variable. 

               Durkheim said of the crime: "We do not condemn because it is a crime but it is a crime hence we condemn.”(Fenton, 1984) This applies equally well to extramarital sex which can be considered as a deviant behavior. It is not as such a property inherent in certain behaviors, but a quality ascribed to them by the environment (Erikson, 2009). The major criterion of deviance is the reaction it provokes: reprimand, sarcasm, disapproval, withdrawal, isolation, ostracism, mandatory treatment, detention, execution. The concept of deviance cannot be understood apart from the interplay of the deviant and those who judge. Hence, extramarital sex is considered a deviant behavior because its judgment rests on the variables of our social selves. Put more precisely, we consider it as such because the response that it elicits is disapproval. 

             Normality and deviance are concepts that carry a statistical sense. It is well understood, normal behaviors are frequent and deviant acts are rare. Let us go further: the more an act is deviant, it is rarer. On this point, the analysis of Wilkins (1964) has been widely accepted both in the sociology of deviance in criminology. This author represents the distribution of moral conduct on a bell curve like the one that is commonly used to describe the results of IQ tests. At one end of the distribution, shows a very small number of criminal conducts (or wrong, reprehensible, perverse, etc.) The intensity of deviance varies inversely with its frequency because it is possible in a group that people reprove with extreme indignation the frequent conduct such as extramarital sex.

Erikson, Steven,(2009) “Crime, punishment, and mental illness: law and the behavioral sciences in conflict” Rutgers University Press.
Fenton, Steve, (1984) “Durkheim and modern sociology” CUP Archive
Wilkins, Leslie,(2003) “Social Deviance: Social Policy, Action and Research” Routledge


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