Scholarly vs. Pop Media Focus on Sexuality

Human sexuality plays a vital role in everybody’s life. Sexuality is an integral component of what a person does and what he/she is. Sexuality can be described as the ability to have erotic capabilities and responses, how a person experience and expresses himself/herself as a sexual being. According to Charles & Collins, “sexuality can also be used to refer to one’s sexual orientation, be it heterosexuality (attraction to the opposite sex), homosexuality (attraction to the same sex), bisexuality (attraction to both sexes), or asexuality (not experiencing any sexual attractions)” (Charles & Collins, 2011). This paper compares a scholarly journal on the public acceptance of gay marriages with a popular media source on the same.

In the recent past, the issue of sexuality, especially homosexuality, has found itself among the forefront of political consciousness all over the world including the US. The entire nation has been debating on the acceptability of homosexuality including gay soldiers in the military and the legalization of gay marriages among ordinary Americans. The issue of child adoption among gay couples is under scrutiny (Charles & Collins, 2011).

In 2008, a professor carried out a survey in Hong Kong with the main objective of assessing the public attitude towards homosexuals. The study also assessed the public awareness of homosexuality. Another objective was to establish the level of public acceptance of homosexuals in different situational contexts. The survey also assessed the problem of discrimination faced by homosexuals (Charles & Collins, 2011). The hypothesis of the survey was the following: homosexuals in Hong Kong face social discrimination from the society. Furthermore, homosexuality is not acceptable in the general society in Hong Kong.

The survey was carried out on the entire Hong Kong population without preference on gender or age. A sample of 5,000 telephone numbers randomly selected from local residents call directories. The telephone numbers assigned to interviewers for approaching target respondent using the “last birthday” approach system (where the person in the household who just had his/her birthday is selected to participate in the telephone interview). 2,826 of these numbers were residents of Hong Kong contacted participated in the telephone interviews (Mahoney, 2010). Their age varied between 18 and 64 years. During the phone interview, the questionnaire administered between the 22nd and 30th days of October in the year 2009.

Among the respondents, 34 said they were not aware of homosexuality. The majority (65.6 %) had no contact with homosexuals.16% had infrequent contact while 4.9% had frequent contact. The rest were not sure. 46% of respondents thought that homosexuals are psychologically normal, while 50.3% thought otherwise. About 47% respondents said that homosexuality contradicts the morals and family values of the community and is unacceptable while 45% thought otherwise (Mahoney, 2010). On the level of acceptance, the respondent would accept homosexuals as colleagues (75.8%), neighbors (66.4%), and superiors in office (70.9%), teachers (55.5%), friends (49.3), and family members (40.2%).

About discrimination of homosexuals, 32% of respondents thought discrimination against homosexuals was “serious/very serious,” while 20.3% thought the situation “posed little problem/no problem at all.” By comparison, respondents (41.1%) of those with frequent contact with homosexual found the problem “serious/very serious” (Mahoney, 2010). In conclusion, a majority of people thought that there is no direct relationship between sexuality and work ability. Slightly more than half of respondents thought that homosexuals were not psychologically normal people. A significant number of respondents thought that homosexuality conflicted with their moral and family values (Charles & Collins, 2011).

Nowadays, one cannot avoid the topic of sexuality, especially homosexuality as it is incorporated in television shows, and movies, journals, books and magazines. In the most recent cases, the debate has found its way into politics. Due to their low numbers homosexuals are yet to be fully accepted into the society (Charles & Collins, 2011). They are viewed differently by the society in today's world. Many people still believe that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. The media possess a superb deal of inspiration to the awareness of different things as most people rely on the media for information.

The recent survey on homosexuality of boy scouts on CBSDFW radio in Texas is an example of a survey conducted over the media. The surveys involved a series of questions such as should a boy scout accept membership application from an openly gay youth? Despite his believes from his church background that homosexuality is not good? Should a 16 year old who has met all the requirements receive an eagle’s scout award if he is gay? If a boy is 15 years old and the only openly gay scout in a boys scout troop, should he be allowed to camp with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip? (Mahoney, 2010)

Among the responses, a scout leader who did not want to be mentioned stated that he does not have any problem with gay scouts, as long as the boy stays safe from any harm. The survey reached up to 15,000 people in Texas with affiliations the “scout’s family” generating mixed reactions. A scout’s spokesman expressed his concerns that the topic may compromise equality in treatment among boy scouts.

In the questions asked during the survey, there were sections such as: “the following are some possible scenarios that could happen if the boy scouts change or keep its policy. Please indicate the extent to which you perceive the actions taken in each situation are acceptable or unacceptable (scale: totally acceptable, acceptable, neutral, unacceptable, and totally unacceptable)” (Mahoney, 2010). From the survey, more than 68% of the respondents said that gay boys should be allowed to join scouting, with less than 17% saying otherwise (Mahoney, 2010). About 71% respondents said homosexuality is “acceptable and totally acceptable.” One of the respondents goes ahead to explain that these boys are not gay by choice. He says that homosexuality comes from some genetic factors, thus, the gay should not be discriminated in any way (Charles & Collins, 2011).

According to the received feedback, the scout’s society will probably be influenced to change their policy regarding gays. A survey seeks to assess and establish the situation of the problem, rather than influence decision making regarding the problem at hand. Most of the American population believes that all of the American citizens are equal and should be treated equally regardless of their sexuality.

On the shortcomings of the media survey, it can be observed that some of the questions are a little on the leading side; survey questions should not in way suggest that they should be answered in a certain way. The questions were nudging the respondents to already suggested answers. The media survey reached out to many people, but not all listeners responded. It means that the sample is not clearly defined (Charles & Collins, 2011). Most of those who responded did so because the topic directly related to them. It brings in bias as the respondents are defending the person close to them, or themselves as shown by the anonymous scout leader. The media article shows that the radio surveys give room for the listeners to give their views. Respondent views are not scientifically analyzed. The article includes them in the results section. Only data collected by means of the pre-designed questions in the questionnaire should be used in data analysis. It is because the opinions of the target population cannot be analyzed from a common base unless close ended questions on the matter at hand are used.

Above cases have similarities and differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Starting with the similarities, both authors used survey as a research method. Surveys are fundamental research methods, especially where the researcher targets a large population, with or without subgroups. Both researches seek to reach out to the entire population without bias by use of random call interviews and use of live broadcast to reach the entire population (Mahoney, 2010).

The scholarly article appears to be better than the media article. The random phone interviews were a good strategy to eliminate bias compared to the radio survey. It is because the phone interview conducted straight to the selected sample which presents the entire population of the residents (Mahoney, 2010). On the other hand, the media survey does not have a selected sample, only those who are willing to respond and give their views, which were used as the sample in the survey. In this situation, bias will undoubtedly arise as the survey samples only a group of the target population, which is the people willing to participate. It is not scientifically acceptable. Another issue is the structure of the questions in the media article. These questions structured in a manner that suggests that the right answers are indirectly suggested, which is also not scientifically allowed (Charles & Collins, 2011).

In conclusion, scholarly articles are more reliable in providing scientifically correct data as compared to popular media articles. From the above examples, scholarly articles should be guided by the scientific principles in each and every step. The end product of this procedure is scientifically correct findings that can be verified. On the other hand, the articles in media exhibit influence of the author’s opinion on the issue in question. The resultant findings are hard to verify scientifically (Mahoney, 2010). It means that they cannot be relied upon especially when it comes to decision making. The articles in the media are in most of the cases opinion-oriented rather than factual.

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