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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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 Essentialism Freud  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 1 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 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 parents—esp 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 2 Malak Patel | Chapter 11 Gender Segregation and Interaction  Sociologist Barrie Thorne found that contests, chasing games, & other activities involved self- segregation of boys & girls; yet many cases were boys n girls played together  “boundary crossing” → involves boys playing stereotypically girls’ games & girls playing stereotypically boys’ games o Most common form of BC involved girls skilled @ boy’s sports  Group projects lessened attention to gender  Also when adults organized mixed-gender encounters in the classroom & in P.E. periods o In less public & crowded settings Sociologist BARRIE THORNE’S 2 Contributions: 1. Children are actively engaged in the process of constructing gender roles a. Not just passive recipients of adult demands 2. Although schoolchildren tend to segregate themselves by gender, boundaries b/w boys & girls are sometimes fluid & sometimes rigid, depending on social circumstances a. i.e. the content of children’s gendered activities is not fixed  In single-sex schools, girls typically experience faster cognitive development, higher occupational aspirations, greater self-esteem & more teacher attention, respect & encouragement o Why? B/c such schools place more emphasis on academic excellence & less on physical attractiveness; eliminates sex bias  Gender ideologies: sets of ideas about what constitutes appropriate masculine & feminine roles/behaviour o Ex) teen’s ideas about whether, as adults, they’ll focus more on home, paid work, or both The Mass Media & Body Image  In TV, movies, commercials, etc, women more seen as cleaning the house, taking care of children, modelling clothes, & acting as objects of male desire  Men seen in aggressive, action-oriented, & authoritative roles  Ppl try to shape their bodies after the images portrayed in the mass media  Survey of North American university grads showed that: o 56% women & 43% men were dissatisfied w/ their overall appearance o More women wanted to lose weight, more men wanted to gain weight o Canadian women are 5X likely than Canadian men to be underweight  Women more concerned about their stomachs than men are  Men more concerned about their chests than women are about their breasts  Thus, ppl’s body ideas are influenced by their gender Male-Female Interaction  Gender roles kids learn in their families, schools & MM form the basis of social interaction as adults o Ex) by playing team sports, boys tend to learn social interaction is about competition, conflict, self-sufficiency & hierarchical relationships o Ex) by playing w/ dolls & baking sets, girls tend to learn SI is about maintaining relationships, avoiding conflict & resolving differences of opinion thru negotiation o Thus, results in misunderstanding b/w men & women 3  Glass ceilinga social barrier that makes it difficult for women to rise to the top level of management o Factors such as interaction style, outright discrimination, women’s greater commitment to family responsibilities support glass ceiling→ constrains women’s career progress Malak Patel | Chapter 11 Homosexuality  Transgendered: ppl break society’s gender norms by defying the rigid distinction b/w male & f
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