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Chapter 11 Notes.docx

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Daniel Glenday

Chapter 11- Sexuality and Gender Sex versus Gender Is it a boy or a girl? -intersexed infants are babies born w/ ambiguous genitals b/c of a hormone imbalance in the wombs or some other cause Gender identity and gender roles: -sociologists distinguish biological sex from sociological gender -a person’s gender comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviours typically associated w/ being male or female -social learning of gender begins very early in life -babies first develop vague sense of being a boy or girl at ~ age 1 -they develop full-blown sense of gender identity b/w age 2 or 3 Theories of Gender 2 Perspectives: 1. Essentialism: a school of thought that views gender differences as a reflection of biological differences b/w women and men -compatible w/ functionalist theory 2. Social contructionism: views gender as “constructed” by social structure and culture -compatible w/ conflict, feminist, and symbolic interactionist theories Essentialism: -Freud believed that differences in male and female anatomy accounts for the development of distinct masculine and feminine gender roles -essentialist view -says that at age 3, children begin to pay attention to their genitals -believes girls have “penis envy” -thus gender differences follow from anatomical sex differences that children first observe around age 3 Sociology and Evolutionary psychology: -offered 2 essentialist theory -say that all humans instinctively try to ensure that their genes are passed on to future generations -men and women develop different strategies to achieve this -thus, gender differences in behavior are based on biological differences b/w women and men Functionalism and essentialism: -functionalists reinforce the essentialist viewpoint when they claim that traditional gender roles help to integrate society -people learn their gender roles through gender role socialization -learning the essential features of femininity and masculinity integrates society and allows it to function properly A critique of essentialism from the conflict and feminist perspectives: -have 4 main criticisms against essentialism: 1. Essentialists ignore the historical and cultural variability of gender and sexuality -variations exist in what constitutes masculinity and femininity which deflates the idea that there are essential and universal behavioural differences b/w men and women 2. It tends to generalize from the average, ignoring variations w/n gender groups -ex. Variations in aggressiveness b/w males and females 3. Little or no evidence directly supports the essentialist’ major claim 4. Essentialist’ explanation for gender differences ignore the role of power -they generally ignore the fact that men are usually in a position of greater power and authority than women are Engels: located the root of male domination in class inequality -they gained substantial power over women when preliterate societies were first able to produce more than the amount needed for their own subsistence -some gained control over economic surplus -as industrial capitalism developed, male domination increased -feminist theorists doubt that male domination is closely linked to industrial capitalism b/c gender equality usually greater in agrarian societies and in societies that are communist or socialist -they believe it is rooted more in patriarchal authority relations, family structures, and patterns of socialization and culture that exist in most societies Social constructionism and symbolic interactionism: -the view that apparently natural or innate features of life such as gender are actually sustained by social processes that vary historically and culturally -symbolic interactionists focus on the way people attach meaning to things in the course of their everyday communication -one of the things they attach meaning to is what it means to be a man or a woman Gender socialization: -from birth, infant boys and girls who are matched in length, weight, and general health are treated differently by parents -girls tend to be identified as delicate, weak, beautiful, while boys are identified as strong, alert and well coordinated -parents tend to encourage boys and girls to engage in different play patterns -ex. Encourage boys to engage in competitive play and girls to engage in cooperative role playing games -boys more likely to be praised for assertiveness and girls for compliance Gender segregation and interaction: Thorne: observed the grade 4 and 5 classroom -noticed quite a lot of “boundary crossing b/w boys and girls -gave 2 important contributions to our understanding of gender socialization 1. Children are actively engaged in the process of constructing gender roles -not merely passive recipients of adult demands 2. Although school children tend to segregate themselves by gender, boundaries b/w boys and girls are sometimes rigid, and sometimes fluid depending on social circumstances -i.e. the content of children’s gendered activities is by no means fixed -by age 14 or 15 adolescents’ gender ideologies are well formed -these are sets of ideas about what constitutes appropriate masculine and feminine roles and behaviours The mass media and body image: Steven Rytina: tried using gender neutral materials in teaching his kids at daycare -however, did not work b/c the kids were very influenced by the gender messages from the programs they watched on TV -the human body has always served as a sort of personal “billboard” that advertises gender -people thus try to shape their bodies after the images portrayed in the mass media Male-female interaction: -the gender roles children learn in their families, at school, and through the mass media for the basis of their social interaction as adults -b/c of this, misunderstandings b/w men and women are common -gender specific interaction styles also have serious implications for who is heard and who gets credit at work -ex. Male managers inclined to say “I” where female managers would say “we” and so the “we” camouflages women’s accomplishments -glass ceilinga social barrier that makes it difficult for women to rise to the top level of management Homosexuality -transgendered people defy society’s gender norms and blur widely accepted gender roles -some are transsexualsindividuals who want to alter their gender by changing their appearance or resorting to medical intervention -they identify w/ and want to live fully as members of the “opposite” sex -homosexuals are people who prefer sexual partners of the same sex and bisexuals are people who enjoy sexual partners of either sex -homosexuality has existed in every society -some such as ancient Greece have encouraged it -more frequently, homosexual acts are forbidden -most laws target male rather than female homosexuality -the scientific consensus is that homosexuality “emerges for most people in early adolescence w/o any prior sexual experience…it is not changeable” -sociologists less interested in the origins of homosexuality than in the way it is soci
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