Sex and sexuality
Biological sex: sex is defined scientifically with regard to biological parameters of maleness or
Gender: it is a social construct. It is the psychological aspects of psycho sexual development. Differences
between men and women that are culturally, rather than biologically based.
Culturally variable, changes over time. It is very subjective.
Gender identity: basic sense of self as being a male or female, a boy or a girl. It is the largest sex
difference. Most biological males feel like boys or men and most biological females feel like girls or
women. It is not biological, it is what you see, whats around you.
Develops at the age of 2-4 years, having a sense of gender identity.
Sexuality: refers to not only reproduction and the pursuit of sexual pleasure, but also our need for love
and personal fulfillment.
Sexuality is socially constructed trough the sex/gender system on both personal level of individual
consciousness and inter-personal relationships and the social structural level of social institutions
Reflects the need of given historical moment such that social construction of sexuality change in tandem
with changing social conditions.
It incorporates many biological, psychological and cultural factors.
It includes our awareness of and reaction to our maleness or femaleness.
Examples: feelings such as feminity, masculinity, desire, satisfaction, love, loss, intimacy
Sexual orientation: not just who we have sex with but who we are attracted to (just sexual attraction).
Intersexed: a person who is born between (inter) sexes, having partially or fully developed pairs of
female and male sex organs. Intersexed is preferred over the word hermaphrodite.
Transgendered: an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves
as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Broadly
speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms
can be described as transgender.
Two-spirited: usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit
and a feminine spirit. Two spirits might have relationships with people of either sex. Normative diagram of sex, gender and attraction.
- Begin exerting their influence early in embryonic development as the sex organs differentiate
into either male or female form.
- Our ultimate sexuality maybe influenced even before we are born
- Throughout the life cycle, our sexuality continues to be molded by biological factors.
- There is our own concept of ourselves as either male or female and our notions of what form of
behaviors are appropriate for our particular sex, or gender.
- Our sexual feelings and behaviors are influenced by a lifetime of experiences
- Self - esteem, our sense of personal value impacts our sexual feelings and behaviors. Cultural factors:
- Our feelings and perception are strongly influenced by our culture and sexuality is a matter of
- Concept of sexuality varies from place to place and varies from era to era.
1890 1930s: Moralistic social problem
Research took moralistic social problem approach to study sexual behavior
The Church was involved, morality was decided by the society.
1940 1960s: Modern sex research
1940s: Alfred Kinsey and other behavioral scientists
Deviance researchers qualitative analyses: Humphries (1961); Weinberg (1958); Reiss (1961);
Heyl (1979). Deviance: describe actions or behaviors that violate social norms.
Similarity: Both treated sexuality as completely apart from social processes shaping it.
Late 1970s onwards: Sexuality as outgrowth of areas of gender, feminist and womens studies.
Biological sex (male or female) was crucial source of differentiation, omnipresent in social
relations and the fabric of society. Before, religion and the church claim your sexuality and your
behaviors, later on, people use biology to describe your behaviors and sexuality.
Analyses demonstrated that differentiation by sex was essential in shaping distribution of social
goods and services.
Being male or female influenced by opportunities, responsibilities, and behaviors considered
appropriate for each sex.
Differences between men and women are culturally, rather than biologically based.
Questions left unanswered about the social context:
- Impact of social forces and diversity of sexual behaviors.
Deviance research did not explore:
Why ideas about normal or typical sexuality were determined?
Whose interests did these definitions serve?
Video: Psychologists use to believe that people are homosexual because of nurture, these days they
learn toward to nature. There are studies on the behaviors of a mix of straight + gay people to identify
who are straight or gay. Not completely because of genetic because there are twins, and one gay while
other one is not. It could be because of hormones, genres and environment. Psychologists believe that
between twins, the chance of the older brother to be gay is 1/3.