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SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Homophobia, Your Choice Records, Hostile Work Environment

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Malak Patel | Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Sexuality & Gender
Sex versus Gender
Intersexed: babies born w/ ambiguous genitals b/c of a hormone imbalance in the womb or some
other cause
Gender Identity and Gender Role
Sex depends on whether you were born w/ distinct male or female genitals and a genetic program
that released male or female hormones to stimulate the development of your reproductive system
Sociologists distinguish biological sex from sociological gender
Gender: sense of being male or female & your playing of masculine and feminine roles in ways
defined as appropriate by your culture and society
o Also comprises feelings, attitudes & behaviours associated w/ being male or female
Gender identity: a person’s identification w/, or sense of belonging to, a particular sex
biologically, psychologically, and socially
Gender role: set of behaviours associated w/ widely shared expectations about how males &
females are supposed to act
Babies develop a full sense of gender identity at age 2 or 3
Social learning of gender begins very early in life
Heterosexuality: the preference for members of the opposite sex as sexual partners
Theories of Gender
Essentialism: views gender as part of the nature or ‘essence’ of a person’s biological makeup
o see gender differences as a reflection of biological differences b/w w & m
o I.e. →Functionalist theory
Social constructionism: views gender as ‘constructed’ by social structure and culture
o see gender differences as a reflection of the different social positions occupied by w & m
o I.e. → conflict, feminist, symbolic interactionist theories
Believed that dfrnces in male & female anatomy account for the development of distinct gender roles
Children around the age of 3 begin to pay attention to their genitals
Boys grown closer toward his mother, girls toward her father
Girls develop a feminine personality when she realizes she lacks a penis; forms “penis envy”
Since women are never able to resolve their penis envy, they are ‘naturally’ dependent on men
Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology
All humans try to ensure that their genes are passed on to future generations
Men & women develop different strategies to achieve this goal
Women only produces small # of eggs, men has ↑ chances that his genes will be passed on

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Malak Patel | Chapter 11
Functionalism & Essentialism
Talcott Parsons: claim that traditional gender roles help to integrate society
o Women traditionally specialize in raising children & managing the household
o Men traditionally work in the paid labour force
o Each generation learns to perform these complementary roles
For boys, masculinity is→ “instrumental” traits [rationality, competitiveness]
For girls, feminity is→ “expressive” traits [sensitivity to others]
In functionalist view, learning the features of masculinity & feminity integrates society
A Critique of Essentialism from Conflict & Feminist Perspectives
1. Essentialists ignore the historical & cultural variability of gender and sexuality
2. Essentialism tends to generalize from the average, ignoring variations within gender groups
3. Little or no evidence directly supports the essentialists’ major claims
4. Essentialists’ explanations for gender differences ignore the role of power
Male domination is rooted less in industrial capitalism than in the patriarchal authority relations,
family structures, & patterns of socialization and culture that exist in most societies [feminist]
From feminist & conflict viewpoints, functionalism, sociobiology, & evolutionary psychology can
be seen as ex of the exercise of male power [male domination & sexual aggression]
Social Constructionism & Symbolic Interactionism
Essentialism is the view that mascu & femini are inherent & universal traits of men & women
In contrast, social constructionism is the view that apparently natural or innate features of life,
such as gender, are sustained by social processes
Symbolic interactionist focus on the way ppl attach meaning to things in their everyday communication
o One of the things to attach meaning to is what it means to be a man or a woman
Gender Socialization
Barbie→ girls view her as the “Ideal Woman”
o → girls want to be slim, blonde, shapely & pleasing to men
Marketers market toys based on gender
o “The Boy’s World” →section has action figures, sports collectibles, remote-controlled cars, etc
o “The Girl’s World” →section has Barbie dolls, play kitchens, girls’ dressup, jewellery, etc
Girls & boys are treated differently by parentsesp fathers
o Girls identified as delicate, weak, beautiful, cute; Boys as strong, alert, well-coordinated
o Encourage girls to engage in cooperative games; Boys in competitive play
o Lead to heightened development of verbal & emotional skills among girls
o & to more concern w/ winning & hierarchy establishment among boys
Parents, teachers & other authority try to impose their ideas of appropriate gender behaviour on kids
Children interpret, negotiate, resist & self-impose these ideas
Gender is something that is done, not given
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