Lecture Two.doc

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Women's and Gender Studies
Alexandra Flynn

Lecture Two May-14-12 1:17 PM For today's class, two main ideas to think about: Is Biology Destiny? Biological Explanation of Sex and Gender For the point of the lecture, we're going to disagree that biology is destiny. Biological Assumptions • Anatomy is decisive • Gender differences have biological explanation • Males express masculine behaviors and vis-versa • Example, Johan Gray, the author of a popular book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” o “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 o “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 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 – 1873: o “women should be excluded from higher education because of the tremendous demands made upon their bodies by reproduction”. • Women with higher education statistically do have fewer kids, because they would have different priorities • The above statement has two variables that are not caused by each other, just happen to occur at the same time Sociobiology • The systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior, including gender • Certain forms of behavior maximize the reproductive success of the human species • They become g
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