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Chapter 4-Gender and Sexuality Oct 22 2008

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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Chapter 4: Gender & Sexuality
Gender, Sex, and the Case of David/Brenda
y 1986: identical 8 month old twin boys; brought to hospital to be circumcised
y Had phimosis (closing of foreskin)- due to mechanical malfunction/doctor error, the electric
cauterizing needle released a surge of heat - it burnt off the entire penis of one boy
y Parents sought med advice- little hope
y 7 months later- parents deeply depressed; watched program on TV
y Dr. John Money- was discussing how he had successfully assigned a male or female identity
to children who external sex organs and internal reproductive systems were not clearly male
or female
y Parents contacted doctor, and after several months of deliberation proceeded with the
y July 3, 1967- David Reimer underwent surgical castration and reconstructive surgery- he
became Brenda Reimer
y Post surgery- (coming years)- parents gave Brenda dolls, skipping rope, dolls, etc- and
female hormone- estrogen at puberty
y Davids sex reassignment was dramatic proof that the gender identity option is open at birth
for normal infants
y But in March 1997; scientific scandal published against this process- David/Brenda actually
struggled against his/her imposed girlhood from the start
y Not wanting to wear dresses, urinate standing up, walking like a guy, sat with legs apart,
talked about guy things etc
y 1979- Brenda made decision to stop living as a girl/stop having sexual reconstructive surgery
y 1980- family finally told Brenda what happened to her
y Age 16- started taking male hormones- had breasts removed, and a penis surgically
y 23- had intercourse, 25 got married, adopted wifes 3 kids
y At age 34- David Reimer committed suicide
Defining Male and Female: Sex and Gender
y Your sex depends whether if you were born with male or female genitalia and a genetic
program that released either male or female hormones to stimulate the development of your
reproductive system
Table 4.1: Summary of Biological Sex Differences During Typical Fetal Development
Chromosomal Pattern
More estrogens than androgens
More androgens than estrogens +
Sex Organs
Uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina,
clitoris, labia
Epididymis, vas deferens, seminal
vesicles, prostate, penis, scrotum
y Gender: comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviours associated with being male or
y Gender Identity: identification with, or sense of belonging to, a particular sex- biologically,
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psychologically and socially
y Gender Role: when ppl behave according to widely shared expression about how male or
females are supposed to act
y Transgendered People: individuals who want to alter their gender by changing their
appearance or resorting to medical intervention
y Transsexuals: people who believe they were born with the wrong body- that is, they
identify with, and want to live fully as a member of the opposite sex
y We typically accept masculine men and feminine women as normal
y That is we expect individuals to possess unambiguous sex organs and to adopt the gender
role that is consistent with their biological sex
y Sexuality: refers to activities that are intended to lead to erotic arousal and produce genital
y Sexual Scripts: tell us whom we should find attractive, when and where it is appropriate to
be aroused, what is permissible, and how to behave sexually
y Linked with gender roles- men: sexual aggressors, typically more experienced and
promiscuous, women: desire love before intimacy, sexually passive
y Compulsory Heterosexuality: individuals should desire only members of opposite sex
y Negative implications for les/gays- discrimination
Sexual Attitudes and Behaviour
y Premarital sex is widely accepted by CDN ppl
y Extends even to young ppl
y 94% of CDN agree- that birth control info should be available to teenagers who want it
y 55% of 15-19 years olds say they have sexual intercourse, as do about 75% at university
y Men are more willing than women to participate in unconventional sexual activities
y Greeks have sex most often: average 138 times a year, JPNses have least often: average 45
times a year, Canada ranks 17th, 108 times a year
y CDNs also tend to have had many sexual partners- 10.7 average
y Men report more frequent intercourse than women, while women report abstention than men
y Men- sexual intercourse= µfun standard
y Women more likely to cite affection for partner as a major reason for their first intercourse
y CDNs also become more tolerant of homosexuality and same sex marriages
y Sexual Orientation: refers to the way a person derives sexual pleasure, including whether
desirable partners are of the same sex or different sex
y It is more appropriate to conceptualize sexuality as comprising four continua: sexual
attraction, sexual desire, sexual behaviour, and sexual identity
y Attitudes about sexual extramarital affairs are more conservative than those about
homosexuality, and they are becoming more so- movement towards more conservative
y Although there are undoubting several reasons for this tendency, one of the most important
is the spread of STDs (HIV/AIDS)
Does Sex Determine Destiny
y First observes male-female differences in sexual scripts, the division of labour at
home/workplace, mate selection, sexual aggression, jealousy, promiscuity, fidelity, etc
y Interpret differences as natural and universal
Brain Studies
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