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Chapter 1
The Meaning of the Word Sex
-Originally,sex” meant simply the categories of male or female, based on anatomical
characteristic; meaning still persist today
-There are some intersexed people (people whose anatomy is ambiguous or intermediate
between males and females
-Starting in the 18th century, the meaning of the word “sex” gradually broadened
-Late 19th century, it was applied to the whole topic of genital anatomy and function
-Mid 20th century,sex” was also used to mean sexual attraction and sexual behaviour, the
word no longer just referred to a category but also to a phenomenon and a process
- Sexiness, sex crazed, sex-education and therapy are words that are more common now, and
relate to sexual attraction and behaviour, not to the categories of male or female
-Near the end of the 20th century, gender was substituted for the word sex
-Within the fields of sex research, psychology, and sociology, however “gender” refers to the
collection of cognitive, behavioural, and personality traits that differ (to a greater or lesser
degree) between the sexes
-Sexuality, more than just having sex; also includes sexual relationships, gender, and sexual
Sex is about Relationships
-Most sexual behaviour takes place in the context of relationships; not all such as
-However, even with that, there may be an imagined partner
-Sexual relationships are extremely diverse (pg.5)
-Real-life sexual relationship are not ideal relationships, we don’t always get what we want in
this world, but we are close. Almost always, there is some degree of mismatch that confers
varying degrees of satisfaction. When sexual relationships are challenged by interpersonal
difficulties or external events, some endure and fall apart
-Sexual behaviour and sexual relationships take place in moral context; we all have our
upbringing, our life experiences, our religious beliefs or lack of them, our ability to reason,
and perhaps even by our genes. People do not share the same moral values, nor do they
necessarily agree on whether a universal code of ethics governs all human behaviour and all
Sex is about Identity
-Psychologically, identity means the sense of who you are and it is often defined in terms of
the social groups to which you feel you belong
-Sexuality strongly influences people’s identity
-Gender Identity: a person’s subjective sense of being male or female
-A lot of men and women have a gender identity that corresponds to their anatomical sex, but
some individuals have a gender identity that is discordant with their anatomical sex
-Transgendered or transsexual: A person who identifies with the other sex; may want to seek
sex change in order to bring their bodies into harmony with their gender identity
-Sexual orientation: The direction of one’s sexual attractions
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-People who are homosexual or bisexual are most conscious of their sexual orientation as an
aspect of their identity; Heterosexual are the opposite
-There are many more aspects of people’s sexuality that may also confer a sense of identity
-Our sexual feelings, behaviours, and experiences help establish our place in society, making
us sympathetic to other who share out traits and less sympathetic or hostile to those who are
There Are Many Approaches to the Study of Sexuality
-There has been increased attention to human sexuality by researchers in recent years
-Spurred by increasing awareness of social and economic problems related to sex, such as the
AIDS epidemic, teen pregnancy, and divorce
Evolutionary Psychologist explain how evolution has molded our genetic endowment to favour
certain patterns of sexual feelings and behaviours
- One idea in evolutionary psychology is that, because reproduction is so much more demanding
for females than for males, genes have evolved that cause females to be very pricky in their
choice of partners. As a result, other genes have evolved that cause males to engage in
competitive and risky sexual displays, displays that are intended to influence females choices
Clinical Psychologist deal with emotional, behavioural, and personality problems, problem that
often have a sexual element. A related subgroup known as sex therapists deal specifically with
problems that interfere with the enjoyment of sex. Marriage and family counselors deal with
problems affecting marriage and other intimate relationships; problems that may arise out of
sexual difficulties or that, conversely, may arise in nonsexual areas of the relationship but
interfere with sexual relations
Health Psychologists focus on the influences that illnesses that may have an affect on sexuality.
They also study the psychological aspects of gender inequalities.
Sociologists Focus on the Connection between Sex and Society
-Sociology is the scientific study of society, they link sexual behaviours and attitudes of
individuals to larger social structures
-The accomplish this by a demographic approach; Examining how sexual expression varies
with age, race, national origin, religious and political beliefs, place of residence, education
level, and so on.
-Most famous survey accomplished by zoologist Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues
-Collected interviews from 17,000 Americans
-Found marked class differenced in sexual behaviour and attitudes
-Script Theory: the analysis of sexual and other behaviours as the enactment of social instilled
Sociologists May Take an Ethnographic Approach
-the study of a cultural group, often by means of extended individual fieldwork
-Their personal interpretation of cultural group based on fieldwork
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