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University of Toronto Scarborough
Women's and Gender Studies
Victoria Tahmasebi

Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies Lecture Two. Biological Assumptions • Anatomy is decisive • Explains the difference in men’s and women’s experiences • Example, Johan Gray, the author of a popular book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” • “the differences between the males and females of our species will ultimately be found in the cell arrangements and anatomy of the human brain” Why We Need to Pay Attention to Biological Theories • Play central role in our understanding of both gender difference and gender inequality • Seem to be “objective scientific facts” • Seem to agree with our own observations • There is a certain conceptual tidiness to biological explanations • They make many of us feel good Biological Theories – A Historical Review Goes back to late 19th Century Darwin’s theory “On the Origin of Species” – 1859 Four Key Arguments: 1.Reproduction & natural environment 2.Genes are passed from one generation to the next 3. Species adapt to their changing environment (Better chance of passing on characteristics) 4. Those characteristics that survive tend to become common in a species In The Aftermath of Darwin • Social equality between sexes a violation of the “laws of nature” • Dr. Edward C. Clarke: Harvard’s eminent professor of education(famous scientist)1873: • “women should be excluded from higher education because of the tremendous demands made upon their bodies by reproduction”. (he believed they would fail to reproduce) Sociobiology [ exams ] • The systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behaviour. • Certain forms of behaviour (hostility, passiveness, submissive, shy, r
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