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The Race or Class and Sexuality: Relationship

Introduction

The subject or subjects for this paper are interesting to discuss. In the ‘closets’ of traditional homes, they seem only interesting in the minds of the inhabitants of the house. But in the present age, they are as ordinary as popcorns or hotcakes. Transgender, surgical operations, race and sexuality – they are as ordinary as recessionary items that ought not to be discussed, but they have to be because they are an important part of us.

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Transgenders have been accepted as equals in our midst, although not completely by all sectors of society. There are still traditional societies who are not yet completely at home with people like them. In the Elizabethan times, sexuality was a bit misunderstood. But many of the sexually “perverse” were spread in the so-called nobility, or the upper class, so to speak.

In Freud’s time, man’s sexuality was explained but not so widely understood. Only psychology students understood the subject matter. We cannot really understand what psychology means by “clitoral activity” and “Oedipal stage/s” if we haven’t mastered the psychology of Freud and his contemporaries.

This paper will discuss the relationship of race or class to sexuality, and other aspects of transgender. The novels Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin are studied for the purpose of examining this relationship. We will discover the lives of people we have tended to ignore. On the other hand, this paper will attempt to answer the questions: Is there a relationship with class or race to sexuality? Are transgenders limited or confined to a particular group of class in society?

Thesis

Race or class can affect the sexuality of some people; in fact, sometimes they shape the sexuality of people. We will attempt to prove or disprove this statement in the two novels Orlando and Giovanni’s Room.

Education and liberal views can affect or influence sexuality. However, what is really felt is innate in the individual. If that individual allows something to go out of the way, meaning if he allows homosexuality or lesbianism to dominate his feelings, it’s all up to him.

Background

Orlando

Over a course of about four hundred years, Orlando lives and transforms. He begins his life in the court of Queen Elizabeth, becomes a young man, subdued by girls whom he had captivated with his talent in poetry and literature, and with his boyish features which sometimes looked feminine than masculine.

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The time began in the sixteenth century. The initial stages of the story show us a glimpse of the teen years of Orlando. He would play with the peacocks. The symbol of the peacock is allegorically displayed here, something like a symbol of masculinity. But the description of the one Orlando and his world is done by the narrator of the story – the biographer – who commits to the story like a loving fan to his idol. Orlando has shapely legs, handsome body, and a bright face, “lit solely by the sun itself”. (Woolf 5)

Woolf further describes Orlando as having beautiful lips and almond-white teeth, dark hair, small ears which fit closely to the head, while forehead and eyes correspond to each other. Aside from his appearance, Orlando also loves poetry and literature, and writing. The description covers some masculinity with some bits of femininity. (Woolf 5-6)

From the initial description of the main character of the story, we have a glimpse of his background and future, somehow. Femininity and masculinity are intermingled in one’s teens, and sometimes race. Although it is premature to judge the story at this instance of our review, it is tempting to analyze that there is a close relationship between race and class and sexuality. We cannot but jump into early conclusion that the character’s traits pronounced in the early part of the story are about sexuality, that of being feminine or masculine. But as mentioned above, these traits are intermingled during teens. Why do we say this? The youth is the period where an individual is not yet sure about his/her sexuality. We believe this is what the author wants of us to think in the early part of the novel. We are not sure, or, Orlando is not sure of his sexuality. His boyish image and handsome face resembles that of a girl than a boy. But let’s proceed with the rest of the story.

Orlando’s negative qualities are his shyness and clumsiness, his love of solitude, and of solitary places, vast beautiful views which allow him to be “forever alone”. He has a somewhat aloof personality; his early years can tell us that he is accustomed to the inherited inferiority complex common in most teens. It seems he cannot get away with this, but soon his future job or career, and experience, will free him from this shyness and the negative attributes of the youth. Orlando’s favorite place is under the shade of the oak tree situated uphill among ferns and bushes, with startling deer and wild birds. There, he could see the English Channel, with pleasure boats on the rivers, galleons, armadas, and castles. (Woolf 8)

The colors of the scene under the oak tree suggest some femininity: white clouds that turn red, hills that are violet, the woods that are purple, the valleys black. And added to the color is the trumpet sound. He is summoned by the queen, and he is to attend the Queen at Whitehall. The description of Orlando as a young boy has some reference to his sexuality. As a teenage boy, he was attractive, an asset in his later years inside the Queen’s court and in his career as a diplomat. He is destined for a privileged future in the Court, although there were ups and downs in his experience here.

Queen Elizabeth I admires his appearance – the eyes, mouth, nose, breast, hips, hands – she touched them all (10). But when she saw his legs, she laughed because Orlando looked like a noble gentleman. The queen sees the ‘inside’ of Orlando – his strength, grace, youth, and all – as if she knew how to read a man (10). Orlando’s physical traits captivates the queen; she could probably have fantasized him in her dreams. She wants to own him like a property. Immediately the queen names Orlando Treasurer and Steward. Later in his career, Orlando is about to be sent to the Polish wars but the queen discovers it, and so she recalls him. The Queen says that she can not send to war such a young man with “tender flesh” and “curly head.” This is again another reference to Orlando’s personality, although the youth in him is still very much present. We cannot still say or conclude what his real sexuality is all about.

Because the Queen loved her so much, Orlando was given properties (lands and houses), and considered him someone special. But the Queen later got jealous when she saw Orlando kissing a girl. She groaned and got so mad that she got sick after that. This is the Elizabethan age where people expressed their love for life, music, and the arts (12). It is also recognized as the age of the Renaissance. The climate and the weather are different, even the “sunsets were redder”. Everyone was in love, including Orlando. But Orlando was not in love with the Queen; he hated her ‘spying’ him. He was up to something else. He loved to be left alone, to explore his bachelor life, play with the girls, and enjoy life and night life with girls.

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Although at first, Orlando is described in the initial phases of the novel as having some feminine traits, his masculine properties are very much active, so to speak. He is young, boyish, handsome and talented. He offered rhymes to the girls who were so enamored to him. Poetry, literature, and writing at the time are popular. They belong to the nobility, the high-class in society. Somehow, they are inseparable with one’s sexuality. And Orlando learned to belong to the nobility – the queen’s court. But he is pursued by women.

He started going out late at night in beer gardens, like the Wapping Old Stairs (13). There, Orlando would listen to sailors’ stories of adventures. The river was always busy and awake at late night. And sailors with their lovers always had their time in inns. Love and sex, including homosexuality, were ordinary in the busy street by the wharf. Orlando enjoyed the night life, but later grew tired of it. He wanted someone else, someone special to whom he could devote his life and career, and who could be with him in love and in life.

Three girls in love of Orlando wanted to marry him. But for some reason or another, he politely turned down their requests. One of them was so serious about it. She was named Euphrosyne, the daughter of an Irish Desmonds, someone who belonged to the nobility like Orlando. But by the turn of events, it didn’t happen when the Great Frost of the English Climate occurred. This is nature’s devastation. Birds and humans froze like stones but crashed and blown like powder. This is felt all throughout the land, but not in London under the new king. He ordered that the river be cleaned. There is merrymaking in the midst of the Great Frost. (15)

Orlando is one of them enjoying the merrymaking, and ignoring the extremely cold weather. One night he sees a princess, someone so beautiful, so captivating to his eyes. She comes from the Muscovite Embassy. Orlando is so struck and enamored by the figure, whose sex he couldn’t figure out at first. He just knew that she is an extraordinarily seductive person. Orlando describes the sexiness of her as like a melon, an emerald, or a fox in the snow. (17) What a ‘sexy’ description!

In this chapter of the novel, we can sense a euphemism, a homosexual feeling of someone like Orlando. It could be transformation, or an awakening of a long feeling inside. Why? First, we can figure out – really feel it – how Woolf describes the scene. The one coming from the embassy is a skater who looks like a girl, but Orlando sensed he is a boy because he was skating with speed and vigour like a man’s. Could it be that he was attracted to this skater, or at that moment of fantasizing, he was imagining a boy to become his partner?

Nobody knows. Nothing is added by the author that can tell what is inside the mind of Orlando. But we can guess: Orlando is fantasizing a boy. Then, when the ‘boy’ comes nearer and nearer, he appears to be a she – with legs, hands, carriage that looked like a boy, but are actually belonging to a girl. He finds out that she has a long name, the niece of the Muscovite Ambassador. Her nickname is Sasha. And she is a princess.

Introductions, and they come to know each other; a friendship and bond is established. From that time on, they become inseparable, seldom far from each other, always together at the queen’s court or around the place. A great change is seen in Orlando; he becomes a nobleman full of courtesy, and has even lost his clumsiness and shyness. Orlando knows it is a different feeling; he longs for Sasha all the time. However, the men who also are looking or attracted at the princess shrugged their shoulders because they know Orlando is betrothed to Lady Margaret, the one who wears his ring. Yet Orlando gives no attention to her, or has learned to forget her. Instead, he and the Muscovite are often missing. The princess sometimes would ask him that she be brought somewhere in the beautiful spots of the city. They both want to be alone with each other. Orlando and Sasha have become really fond of each other. They have fallen in love.

But why is it that Orlando feels something lacking in their relationship? There is something in Sasha he cannot not fathom. Is she hiding something? Some love secret? But no, he feels her love. He feels he is a man, and he is beside his woman. He is an Adonis and here is his Minerva. But, one thing that made him doubt about her (but not their relationship, at first) is when after he had finished telling her about himself, about his family and his inheritance, he would start asking her about herself, and she would remain silent. He suspects at first that she is just too shy, or ashamed of her people. He did not press more his inquiry.

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One time, when they are skating farther down the river where the ship of the Muscovite Embassy is anchored, Sasha decides to climb on deck. They saw one Russian sailor who volunteers to accompany Sasha down the ship and find what she wanted in there. Orlando volunteers to be left behind. And while Sasha and the Russian are inside the ship, Orlando thinks and daydreams of the time they would be in Russia. He is fantasizing the days they will soon be together. He is determined to live in Russia with his Princess, because as Sasha told him, she is going home. As for Lady Margaret, Orlando is determined to leave her for good.

The next scene in the story is a description of what Orlando calls the foulness of his imagination. He got tired waiting alone in the ship, so he went to see Sasha. He finds out with his own two eyes Sasha and the Russian embracing, or kissing; but Orlando’s vision becomes blurred or that he thinks he is just imagining something. Sasha swears she did not lie in the arms of the seaman. Orlando wants to give a fight, or to forbid this intruder of their love life. But the Russian is a huge man, larger than him. Moreover, Sasha intervenes.

Orlando wants to forget what had happened in the Russian ship. In fact, he thought it was a mistake of him to accuse Sasha of something she could not do. He praised her, and she praised him. For what? Orlando is beginning to become frail, weak, or feeling like a woman, someone who belonged to the weaker sex.

The time comes when Sasha has to leave for Russia. Orlando becomes weaker and desolate upon Sasha’s departure. Then the Prince assigns him as Ambassador in the land of Constantinople where there are riots. It was believed Orlando volunteered for his assignment. He wanted to forget Sasha and that phase of life which really put him down as a man. Then come the ‘changing’ of his personality. He just wakes up now a woman, transformed as Lady Orlando. From the time Orlando met Sasha to the time she left him can be seen as Orlando’s transformation. He becomes one of the weaker sex. His metamorphosis begins. The time now is the nineteenth century, the Victorian age, ushered in by the Elizabethan era. The Victorian Age is a time of transition, when people have to be educated for a national change without the aid of a violent revolution. (Knickerbocker 165) The time for the revolution is gone. This is a time too when Orlando is to undergo his own transition, from man to woman. She is actually a woman now and she must adjust; she has to refine the way she acts, the way she wears her clothes, the way she deals with people, or the way she feels for the opposite sex. She is preparing to be a wife to a sea captain. Moreover, she learns to admire the opposite sex, or to appreciate the offering of the captain. It occurs to her now which offers great feelings and ecstasy, that of a man or of a woman?

Orlando is now in the present age, the same person but in the body of a woman, although as she said, she has not given much thought about her sexuality. But in spite of her being a former ‘man’ or male person, she is now acting as a female; she feels it and she wants it. She now thinks of chastity, of her body as sometimes an object of sexual imagination of the male species. Her ankle, her legs, her knees, her heels, are now important, something the ‘other’ sex want to look at and imagine about. This is no ordinary transition, but one that is poetic, artistic, very original on the part of an extraordinary writer who has experienced it all.

This novel really intrigues the reader, and allows us to think of our own sexuality. Woolf says that Orlando is a biography, which means it is not fiction but based on some factual events. It was based actually on the life of Vita Sackville-West, Woolf’s lover. And let’s be clear about it, it’s a woman loving another woman. The novel is also a story of Woolf’s life, of how and what she felt for Sackville-West. The descriptions of people, scenes, relationships, sexuality, love, and so forth, are literary descriptions of life, equipped with literary tools. Woolf reveals her own sexuality. Her description of Orlando the man, and Orlando the woman, can explain her true emotions. In fact, she too is transformed as she narrates Vita’s story. Woolf is not a character of the story, although sometimes she is present and alluded to in the story. There is a strong admiration and ‘adulation’ to the character Orlando who is able to portray the role of man and woman. She realizes now how magnitude a responsibility has been put on her being a woman.

Finally, Orlando marries a ship captain and publishes her poem “The Oak Tree”, which refers to her friend Vita’s poem “The Land”. This occurs hundreds of years later after she met the Russian princess. What is most striking in the novel is Orlando’s transition to womanhood. He feels he is forced into a situation that he has no choice but to like it.

Novel or Biography?

Virginia Woolf regarded Orlando as a biography rather than a novel. She argued with it to the booksellers who did not like her classification because, as they said, nobody wanted to buy biographies. But it sold and the reason was not clear – whether because it was, or in spite of, its being a biography. On the other hand, Woolf narrated that she was not at first so serious about Orlando which she considered ‘something of a freak or that she began as a joke and went with it seriously’ (Majumdar 21).

Woolf’s views and beliefs of sexuality have been expressed in her writings, but not profoundly and much talked about after Orlando. This is her story. For indeed, the novel questions her own sexuality, which was ‘complex and difficult’. It is, for most of its parts, about her friend Vita Sackville-West who is herself an award-winning writer, and her then lover. Suman Gupta and David Johnson state that Woolf kept a diary all throughout her life and her entry in the diary about Orlando stated “to what extent Orlando was conceived easily and excitingly as a joke, a holiday and as something of an illicit pleasure because so unserious [and] Orlando … was both an escape from the straight history of fiction she was supposed to have been writing ‘that intolerable dull Fiction’ and a displacement of it” (Gupta and Johnson 107).

Orlando also tells about Woolf’s traumatic experiences that made her what she was in her later life. Her experiences – love and “hatred” – are reflected in the story. Luce Irigaray says, “Female sexuality has always been conceptualized on the basis of masculine parameters” (Irigaray 94). Woolf was herself an abused child. Jane Augustine comments:

“Her older half-brother, George Duckworth, had molested her as a young child, and after their mother’s death, when Virginia and her sister Vanessa were still in their teens, he forced both of them to have sex with him; the episodes are described in Woolf’s essay, “22 Hyde Park Gate,” in Moments of Being. Her sexual relations with Leonard Woolf appear to have been minimal, but she fell in love with him, and continued to love him and he her.” (Augustine 15)

Woolf had a double personality, a bisexual. This was revealed by her passion for her friend Vita, and her imaginative writing of Orlando, which is similar to “the English writer,” who lives 400 years or so, first as a man and then as a woman. The novel’s style “exudes jouissance, which especially released the writer’s imagination in passages in which sexual identity is not fixed. Orlando, while a young man in the Elizabethan period, sees a person in Russian costume whose sex is not certainly identifiable…” (Augustine 16)

As a whole, the story of Orlando is a story of sexuality or transgender although the ‘transgender’ or the shifting of male sexuality to female is different. In this age (our age), transgender is surgical, or the surgical removing of the male organ to become a female organ, with new tools, technology, and medicine to make a man really appear or function as a woman. The ‘time’ in Orlando is set by Woolf in the Elizabethan age, which means surgical removal of a male organ was not yet done, no medical tools or medicine to aid the doctor in ‘producing’ a woman out of a man. There is a ‘surgical’ action, when out of the blue Orlando himself becomes a Lady Orlando just by the turn of events, not through any medical surgery or operation. We can surmise here though, that Woolf may have some “prophetic” vision, foreseeing what modern medicine could do to man, meaning the present-day medical “transgendering”. Nevertheless, Lady Orlando and the present-day transgender are no two opposite human beings. They are by accounts of Woolf and the present day experiences of transgender almost the same – in experience, psychology, and whatever the future holds for them.

In Elizabethan Orlando, we can see the psychology of a lonely man (or woman) who is a “loner”. He loves to be alone, solitary places, vast views, to feel himself always alone. He has written twenty tragedies, histories, and scores of sonnets. There is a series of transformations in the life of Orlando: first from a shy and clumsy teen to a trusted fellow of the queen’s court, then to a lover of Sasha, and onto being a frustrated lover, until he becomes Lady Orlando. When he becomes Lady Orlando, he is transformed to a ‘real’ woman, not some ‘man who is now a woman’. The ‘present age Orlando’ (the new transgender) is the opposite because he can shout to the world that he is a man transformed into a woman through science.

M. Keith Booker argues there is ‘carnivalization of gender’ in Orlando. M. Keith Booker is quoted here:

Among the many fascinating scenes in Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando is one in which the title character meditates on mortality while browsing (literally) through the bones of his ancestors in the family crypt. … This morbid musing is especially illustrative of Orlando as a whole because it not only engages in a dialogue with literary tradition, but with two traditions at once. (Booker 162)

The voices engaged in dialogue are often of different gender. At the same time the boundaries of gender itself are challenged, carnivalized, and exposed as arbitrary social constructions. Booker says that gender is one of the fundamental criteria used to define social typologies.

Psychology of Race and Sexuality

If we follow Freud’s theory of perversion, man is innate bisexual. When a child is born, there is in the physical composition the presence of male and female characteristics including physical sexuality. As the child grows, socialization or orientation shapes what he/she becomes to be, either as a man or as a woman. But the man and woman traits become predominant in the process of “sublimation”. Jonathan Dollimore argues that ‘In Freud’s theory of the sexual perversions the human infant begins life with a sexual disposition which is polymorphously perverse and innate bisexual.’ (Dollimore 9) This precedes socialization and a process called ‘gendering of the individual’ (positioning of the subject within hetero/sexual difference), perversion is pronounced through sublimation.

“In this way, not only is appropriate human subject produced but also civilization reproduced. But the perversions do not thereby go away: repressed or sublimated, they help to constitute and maintain the very social order; this is one reason why that order requires their repression and sublimation. As such they remain intrinsic to normality and might be said to constitute the cement of culture, helping ‘to constitute the social instincts’. (Dollimore 9)

Moreover, Freud also wrote: “We are accustomed to employ ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ as mental qualities as well, and have in the same way transferred the notion of bisexuality to mental life. Thus we speak of a person, whether male or female, as behaving in a masculine way in one connection and in a feminine way in another way.” (Freud 21)

Giovanni’s Room

Before we delve on James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, here’s an inspiring quote:

“When The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader was published, I followed my usual practice and searched for the articles on black women’s sexuality. This reading practice has become such a commonplace in my life I have forgotten how and when I began it. I never open a book about lesbians or gays with the expectation that I will find some essay that will address the concerns of my life.” (Evelyn Hammonds, “Black (W)holes and the Geometry of Black Female Sexuality”, qtd. in Holland 265-266)

Hammonds refers to black women’s sexuality which, as she speaks, seems rather peculiar. There are in this class some sexual pleasures not common in others. Let’s talk of a more frank way of telling sexuality: Giovanni’s Room.

Giovanni’s Room is about a young man’s quest for identity, turned between two lovers, a boy and a girl. The man is David, the narrator in the story, who is really puzzled of his identity. He has this first encounter and sexual relationship with a young boy named Joey. David’s experience with Joey is memorable, memorable in the sense that he cannot accept it happened, meaning it is traumatic on his part. Traumatic because he can not believe himself that he made it. They made love, or to say it frankly, experienced homosexuality. For David, it is wrong. He feels his relationship with Joey is off-bound and should never have happened. He feels ashamed and afraid of what happened; afraid because he does not want to become that somebody who has made love with a boy like him.

David goes to Paris which has a more liberal environment. It is not his purpose to go there because he wants to be free of his sexual preference, but he just wants to find himself after all the events that happened to his life – his accident, his care-free life, or his relationship with his family. Paris indeed provides freedom for all – gays, lesbians, and so forth. David meets Jacques to whom he has another homosexual affair. Jacques has a freer attitude. Then they meet Giovanni. They dined in a restaurant, with its food suggesting some sexual imaginings. Oyster can tickle some crazy imaginings of people. They eat and swallow the food as if it is something, as if it is not food.

This is a narrative composition that is heavily criticized for its explicit scenes and homosexual details. A homosexual love scene is a bit detailed, making it opposed by some critics. David, the main protagonist, realizes his deed goes far beyond his belief of being a man that he goes on bullying Joey, to prove that he is not a homosexual. But we can see that David is bisexual. He has a girlfriend named Hella, and a homosexual affair with an Italian named Giovanni whose room they use in their lovemaking. He describes the room as always dark because Giovanni is ashamed or afraid of something. Sexuality in relation to class and race is told in the story. The time is the present time where we experience normal things as transgendering, liberal ideas of gays and lesbians that should be respected by the government and all sectors of society. The climax of the story begins and ends with Giovanni accused of Guillaume’s murder. Consequently, Giovanni goes to prison and is executed.

Trudier Harris-Lopez has an interesting account on the characterization of Giovanni’s Room. He says that men who participate in homosexual acts often do so to acquire some “copyright on manhood”. But there are some of them who really lost that status of manhood forever. They cannot accept they once made love with men or made love with their own kind. Trudier Harris-Lopes comments on Giovanni’s Room:

For characters who attempt to rid themselves of illusions, such as David, the white protagonist in Giovanni’s Room (1956), the process of extrication frequently involves tragic consequences. David not only loses Giovanni, but Giovanni is near execution before David is willing to accept how much he has loved him. (Trudier Harris-Lopez 18)

Giovanni’s Room cannot be said as a purely homosexual novel because the characters indulged themselves in relationships with men and women, or were involved in sexual relationships with both sexes. At that time, there was rampant sexual discrimination in America, and Paris had some freer atmosphere when it came to gays or lesbians’ rights. Black gays and lesbians were discriminated in society.

Dwight McBride comments:

Giovanni’s Room is a lovely book about two men who find themselves in the beautiful landscape of gay Paree, the wilderness of white folks. Their love is put to an impossible and tragic test and one of the boys is killed by the French government for indecency and the lover is cast out onto the sea of emotions that only the love of men can rescue him from it. (Holland 267)

On the other hand, Orlando’s existence spans four hundred years. Although this is fantasy, we can only surmise that his transition from manhood to womanhood had to take that long. Why? For adjustment? Perhaps. But as we can see in the novel, he had to educate himself, of the things that pertain to womanhood. He was in a stage from a man who didn’t know how to become a woman. Orlando is euphemism to the present-day confused, someone who has to take that long time to adjust to the realities of being a homosexual or lesbian.

At first, Orlando didn’t seem to like it. But later on, he was marrying somebody. Orlando belonged to a “higher” class in society. He was privileged, educated, and talented. But as a child, he already showed signs of being a girl. He was boyish, handsome, but his features were somewhat feminine. These features made him liked by many, by girls – even by men – and then especially the queen. He went on womanizing, until he met Sasha, the Muscovite girl from the Embassy, who broke his heart.

His engagement with Sasha is the start of the transition. He is starting to feel and experience the treacherous actuations of the princess, and when she goes home to Russia, he is devastated. This traumatic experience made him “choose” – perhaps – in Orlando’s psyche, the personality to become a woman, although somewhat unconsciously. The plot and the time ‘flow’ of four hundred years can let us appreciate Orlando’s transition from man to woman, with Orlando having no choice, except that now he is a woman. But if we look at it positively, and disregarding the time flow of four hundred years, we can say this is the personality of Orlando’s having a defense mechanism over his experience with the princess, with violence of which he was not used to, and even his experiences as a young ‘womanizer’ in the Queen’s court and as a privileged ‘noble’ of England.

We have examined the relationship of class or race to sexuality, but to say that class or race affects sexuality, there’s no amount of proof. Sexuality is explained in countless ways by Freud, but the concept is too broad; it cannot be explained in one setting. Freud’s explanation makes several mention of sexual intercourse when referring to gender, that is, masculine or feminine.

The male pursues; the female seems immobile. Freud says:

The male sex cell is actively mobile and searches out the female one, and the latter, the ovum, is immobile and waits passively. This behaviour of the elementary sexual organisms is indeed a model for the conduct of sexual individuals during intercourse. The male pursues the female for the purpose of sexual union, seizes hold of her and penetrates into her. (Freud 21)

Education and liberal views can affect sexuality.

On the other hand, Giovanni’s Room tells us the ‘development’ of one’s own sexuality through company, environment, and the liberal views prevailing in the community.

We have many connotations to the word sexuality as referred to in the two novels. The relationship of class or race to sexuality can be talked about in different aspects, coupled with culture of the people in the given time. Age and time in the two novels are very important in the subject for this paper.

It is a time that spans four centuries – from the Elizabethan England to Victorian England, eras that prove different views about sexuality, race, and class. For example, racial discrimination is part and parcel of the topic of sexuality. Gays who are black are more discriminated upon during the past century; while whites do not bear much the brunt of discrimination. In Orlando’s situation, color is not an issue but his/her class is an issue; his transformation and transition could have been a different thing if he was black. Giovanni’s Room also tells of sexual identity that has often been a question to many of our young boys. Somehow, when friends turn to lovers, they cannot anymore get out of the situation. They have to force themselves to get out and not experiment. But our objective in this paper is to determine the relationship of class or race and sexuality. In the second novel, class influences more on the sexuality of individuals. There are times people just do it for experimentation. Others are very much influenced by the people around them, by environment, education, and liberal ideas.

Works Cited

Augustine, Jane. Bisexuality in Hélène Cixous, Virginia Woolf, and H. D.: An Aspect of ĽÉscriture Féminine. In Sexuality, the Female Gaze, and the Arts: Women, the Arts, and Society. Ed. Ronald L. Dotterer and Susan Bowers. Susquehanna University Press, 1992. ISBN ISBN 0945636326, 9780945636328.

Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. New York: Penguin, 2001.

Booker, M. Keith. What’s the Difference?: The Carnivalization of Gender in Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando. In Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature: Transgression, Abjection, and the Carnivalesque, by M. Keith Booker. USA: University Pres of Florida, 1991.

Dollimore, Jonathan. The Cultural Politics of Perversion: Augustine, Shakespeare, Freud, Foucault. In Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing. Ed. Joseph Bristow. Routledge, 1992, ISBN 0415069378, 9780415069373.

Dotterer, Ronald and Susan Bowers, Eds. Sexuality, the Female Gaze, and the Arts: Women, the Arts, and Society. Susquehanna University Press, 1992. ISBN 0945636326, 9780945636328.

Freud, Sigmund. Femininity. In The Women and Language Debate: A Sourcebook. Ed. Camille Roman, Suzanne Juhasz, and Christanne Miller. United States of America: Rutgers, The State University, 1994. 20-23.

Gupta, Suman and David Johnson. Virginia Woolf, Orlando. In A Twentieth-Century Literature Reader: Texts and Debates. Suman Gupta and David Johnson. New York: Routledge, 2005. 107.

Harris-Lopez, Trudier. Slanting the Truth: Homosexuality, Manhood, and Race in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. In South of Tradition: Essays on African American Literature. Trudier Harris-Lopez. United States of America: University of Georgia Press, 2002. 18.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 18). The Race or Class and Sexuality: Relationship. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-race-or-class-and-sexuality-relationship/

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StudyCorgi. "The Race or Class and Sexuality: Relationship." November 18, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-race-or-class-and-sexuality-relationship/.

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