Topic 5: Gender and Sexualities Gender and Sexualities.
Topic 5 – Gender & Sexualities (Week 5 lecture + NS Chp 4 + SIQ Chp 27)
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?
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.
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;
-- 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.
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;
-- GENDER AND SEXUALITY ARE SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED!
-- e.g. Adam and Eve: It’s believed that Eve was born from Adam’s rib; throughout the medieval it’s
believed that there is only one sex --- male. Female is not a sex, but came from men; But now two
sexed are universally accepted. This again demonstrates that sex is socially constructed, not by
Barbie dolls and Action figures:
-- gender is a social role that is attached to our biology:
-- How do boys and girls learn to become women and men? Socialization.
-- Barbie as the best selling doll represents the socialization through which a girl learns to be a woman;
-- Barbie represents an impossibly-perfect beauty ideal: 40,18,32; 110 pounds (real human size);
slim; blond; white.
-- What does Barbie shown “how to become a woman”: make-ups; clothes; accessories; hygiene;
-- In contrast, action figures that are popular among boys tell boys of being a man:
-- physically strong; brave; sense of protection and sacrifice;
-- action figures also present perfect male body that is impossible to achieve;
-- the fact that Barbie doesn’t have muscle, doesn’t protect the country and action figures do not have
changeable suits with personal hygiene, shows that: gender is socially constructed.
West & Zimmeman: --- Doing Gender.
-- Gender is something we do rather than something we are;
-- Gender is a collection of behavior, not a set of traits that resides within people;
-- There is no true genders inside people;
-- Gender is something that we are constantly doing;
Gender is omnirelevant in interaction:
-- Men do not ask women if they want a cigarette;
-- Men ask women to dance instead of the other way around;
-- When seeing women carry something heavy, men will carry it for them
-- Judgment of gender cannot be avoided.
-- Accountability structure: Individuals, groups, and institutions that sanction our behavior, including
negative sanctions for behavior that does not conform to the norm.
-- what the society’s expectation on sexual intercourse
-- who you should have sex with
-- when and where is appropriate to be sexually aroused
The Five Sexes (Ann Fausto-Sterling)
1) Male: strictly male organ (testes)
2) Female: strictly female organ (ovaries)
3) Herms: perfectly intersex (right in the middle); both organs (testes and ovaries)
4) Ferms: heavier on the female side; only ovaries, some aspects of male genitalia but no testes;
5) Merms: heavier on the male side; only testes, some aspects of female genitalia but no ovaries;
-- Herms, Ferms, Merms are all intersexed!
-- society has the tendency to “decide” a baby’s sex, and to change a herm, ferm, or merm back into
female and male because herms, ferms, merms are considered deviant;
-- e.g. when a doctor says “you got a daughter/son”, it’s an example of social construction because it’s up
to the doctor to decide the baby’s sex of being female or male, instead of the possibility of h,f,m;
-- Many intersex are surgically changed into women because the underdevelopment of medicine and
technology; (it’s harder to construct an ovary than to cut off a teste);
Euro-American Binary Sex System:
-- Phall-O-Meter: a social standards that measures the sex of a baby:
-- clitoris smaller than 0.97cm: female;
-- penis longer than 2.5cm: male:
-- in between: considered deviant;
-- EABSS’s four process: sex assignment; gender identification; gender role; sexual orientation
-- Normative development by EABSS:
1) a baby has a penis longer than 2.5cm is identify as male (gender assignment),
2) WILL consider himself as a boy (gender identification),
3) will be NATURALLY masculine (gender role)
4) will be NATURALLY attracted to the opposite sex; (sexual orientation)
-- ANY transgression in the WHOLE PROCESS are considered as abnormality and Deviant and needed of
-- e.g. a baby born with clitoris smaller than 0.97, defined as female, DID NOT see herself as a girl, is
considered as deviant.
e.g. Some people do not act out the gender roles that they are supposed to; or not consider themselves
as the sex they are assigned to; they are all considered deviant.
Essentialism and its criticism:
-- Essentialists argue that the difference of male and female are universal and natural, not socially
constructed, and will occur without social construction
1) ignore the historical and cultural variability of gender and sexuality;
(-- change of societies over spaces
-- different society in different parts of the world);
2) tends to generalize from the average, ignoring variations within gender groups.
e.g. men are average taller than women, BUT there are many significantly short man and taller
women – great variations;
3) ignore the fact that norms and practices change over time;
e.g. female wrestling team didn’t exist and was not allowed before, but different now.
The society changes --- less sexist courses (e.g. 50s home-eco); encourages women in sports, etc.
-- How does structural and societal inequality between men and women relates to sexuality?
-- Women have weaker status shield and use more emotional management (Horschild);
-- Women also use their body as a compensate for their gender inequality
e.g. sexy female singers (use their bodies erotic appearances as part of their sales appeals)
what kind of power is sexuality and what is the consequences of investing the power?
Sexuality and inequality
-- Contrast between male and female pop star are presented (Jessica Simpson and Justin Timberlake)
-- Dress code: T – less sexually presented;
J – sexually provocative;
-- Pose and sight: T – looking into the camera; carrying a guitar; identified by audience as an artist;
J – there is no sign of her being a singer;