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Gender and Sexualities

Course Code
Adam Green

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Topic 5 t Gender & Sexualities (Week 5 lecture + NS Chp 4 + SIQ Chp 27)
z Instincts: Animals VS humans
-- Animals have stronger instincts: more instincts to eat; to protect offspring;
-- Humans, however, do not have as strong instincts as animals;
-- human behaviors are much more complex and socially constructed
Q: If human sexual & social life is not determined by instinct, what then determines it?
A: Culture.
z Culture (Berger and Buckman 1966):
-- humans have ^underdeveloped instincts_;
---- culture is the sum of socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects that people create;
-- culture gives us guidelines for how to think and act;
-- culture is the symbolic system to compensate our lack of instincts;
-- A society exists when people interact and share culture, generally in a geographically delimited area;
-- Our own culture is hard for us to see; aspects of culture that we are blind about;
-- there need to be factors outside our culture to help us see our own culture.
z Examples of sex
1) Adam and Eve. (universally accepted two sexes across all cultures);
2) Gwen (US) :
-- born a male but presented as a female;
-- killed because of the intolerance of the society;
3) Berdache/Two-spirit (Natives):
-- born male but dressed and perform female roles;
-- marry men, do chores
4) Hijra (India):
-- born men; but considered themselves as women; dress like women;
-- remove male reproduction organs and prefer have sex with men;
5) Travesti (Brazil):
-- born male but are very feminists;
-- highly value their male reproduction organs (proud of being women with penis);
-- considered themselves as a third gender, not women;
z -- Intersexed: A person with biological characteristics of both male and females, often consisting of
some combination of male and female genitalia;
-- Transgender: A person whose gender identity does not match their birth sex
-- Difference: sex is biological while gender is cultural;
Intersexed is biological while transgender is cultural.
-- Ethnocentrism: judging another culture exclusively by the standards of one[s own.
Q: Back to Adam and Eve: is there only two sexes in the world? What determines sex?
A: sex is socially constructed.
z Sex as a social construction:
-- Human sex is not strictly binary; there are other gender possibilities;
-- misrecognition of Social Construction VS Nature; something universal across the society (binary sexes)
may not be all from nature;
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