The essentialist view looks into the biological differences inherent within each individual (Schwartz & Rutter, p.23). The construction of sexual identity is dependent on the genetic program of each individual, whether one is male or female. And consequently, the sexual roles of each are dependent on these biological differences. On the other hand, the social constructionist perspective sees sexual identity as the result of the social processes that are dependent on social interactions and social institutions (Schwartz & Rutter, p.23). Sexual roles, then, are dependent on the sanctioned norms that define the differences between male and female behavior.
Sexual identity can, therefore, be seen as a result of social expectations because that is who an individual is supposed to be, whether male or female. With this perspective, the biology and inherent sexual being is being matched to the sexual role. We are expected to behave as a male or as a female according to the biological roles that each one plays. The roles are learned through culture, however, it is expected to match the inherent biological sexual orientation that each one has. Sexual identity can also be a result of learned behavior. In this perspective, culture is a significant process in acquiring one’s sexual identity and role. An individual learns to behave in such a way that their social experiences dictate. One can behave like a male or a female, depending on how one is socially influenced.
From these primary perspectives, other theories and perspectives come into play. With the movement and changes of the social world, the theories also move from defining primarily how one is expected to behave, to differences in power, social roles and expectations according to gender sensitivity and similar social constructs that affects the society’s course of thinking regarding sexual identity.
The major sociological perspectives interpret sexual identity differently. Functionalist perspective