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Lecture: Sex and Gender- Becoming M/F; the Biology of Socialization

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization October 25, 2010 Are you male/female? Part 1: Reproductive Biology Prenatal sexual Differentiation - The role of becoming male/female began at conception - Mother’s egg (X sex chromosome) - Father’s sperm (X or Y sex chromosome) o If X fertilized XX you are female o If Y fertilized  XY you are male A) The genetic factor is the first step towards becoming a male or a female - You won’t possess any reproductive organs in the first few weeks after conception B) The Gonadal factor ( development of reproductive organs: testes or ovaries) a. Depends on whether the Y chromosome is present of absent i. If present, a. Stimulates the development of testes b. Inhibits the development of ovaries - PROBLEMS: “True Hermaphrodites” b. A genetic female (XX); with a tiny piece of a Y chromosome that attached to an X chromosome (XXy) i. The Y chromosome is big enough to stimulate the development of testes, but not big enough to inhibit the development of ovaries (therefore, the person possesses both) - Even if you do have the right chromosomes, you still don’t have a penis/clit C) The Hormonal Factor (development of sex organs: penic or clitoris and vagina)  Testes produce androgens (also called the male sex hormones even though the females also have some)  When androgens are present, a penis develops called the Adam Principle  When androgens are absent, a clitoris and vagina develop called the Eve Principle - PROBLEMS: o The Andrenogenital syndrome  Genetic females with unusually active adrenal glands in the prenatal development (produce androgens) SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization October 25, 2010  The result is that the fetus develops sex organs that appear to be “male” (clit is enlarged, and vagina is fused); usually some confusion about the baby’s sex when it’s born o Androgen-insensitivity syndrome:  Genetic male with normal testes that produce normal levels of androgens  BUT the body is insensitive to androgens; body doesn’t respond to them- like they are not present  So the baby is born with sex organs that have a female appearance; thus it also causes confusion about the baby’s sex - if everything goes as planned, you are now a biological male/female (end of prenatal sexual differentiation) - BUT you still can’t reproduce (for about a decade) D) The Puberty Factor (involves hormones) o For girls age 10-12 and boys 12-14 o During this time we see 2 changes:  We see the development of secondary sex characteristics • Boys and girls: pubic hair, growth spurt • In girls: development of breasts • In boys: facial hair ,deeper voice, larger penis  Gonads (reproductive organs) mature: • Menstruation in girls (mature eggs are released from ovaries) • The first ejaculation in boys (production of mature sperm from the testes) - The road to becoming a male of female does not end with biological maturation of the body o Also involves a psychological development Part 2: Our 2 basic identities 1. Sexual Identity (given to you by biology) 2. Gender identity; reflects your perception of yourself as a male or female. Beliefs about what it means to be a male or female SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization October 25, 2010 o “gender roles”- society’s expectations about how males and females should behave o Given to you by SOCIETY (not biology like your sexual identity); nearly every society that’s been studies has expectations about how males/females should behave o Nearly every society expects males and females to be different  Not every society has the same expectations but they all have a unique set of expectations  OUR society is no exception - Consider “gender stereotypes” common in our society o What are the characteristics of the avg man and woman in our society ?  The things that they mention are rarely the same  Women are describes by The Communal Dimension (also called the expressive, socially-oriented, feminine dimension)  Specific attributes are caring, nurturant, affectionate, helpful  Men are describes as The Agentic Dimension (also called the instrumental, the task-oriented, masculine)  Aggressive, dominant, independent, self-reliant  These dimensions share universal characteristics - To illustrate in a general way how we are influenced by gender stereotypes - STORY: father and son involved in a car accident. Both seriously injured and rushed to different hospitals. Asa the son is prepared for surgery, the surgeon says that he can’t operate b/c he’s HIS son. It’s impossible for him to be his father b/c the father is at a different hospital. o Solution: automatic tendency to think that the surgeon is a male BUT the surgeon was actually his MOTHER - 2 questions: o Are these gender stereotypes accurate?  Research suggest that these stereotypes DO contain a kernel of truth o Where do these differences come from? Why are women more communal on avg and men more agentic?  Possible that they stem from biological factors (p311-313) SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization October 25, 2010  Regardless of the role of biology, these differences also depend on how we are SOCIALIZED • Thus, we have to LEARN to be male/female Part 3: Gender-Role Socialization - VERY early in life - First thing baby does is CRY, regardless of the sex - Immediately given a gender appropriate name - Showered with gender appropriate gifts and cloths o Differentiates from birth - He was born at Vic hospital…baby boys were given a blue blankets, and girls get pink. He got a pink blanket cause they ran out of them that day and he loved it forever - The colour distinctions are not as distinct today as they used to be but they are still there A. The Role of Parents - They perceive baby boys and girls differently - They behave differently towards them o At a very young age (reacting to fussiness; baby boys are likely to be picked up but girls are more likely to be looked at and spoken to) could be a reason why boys are more fussy b/c when they are, they get picked up which is a reward for them so they continue doing it - Study: first time parents were itneviewed within 24 hr of baby’s birth. There is no physical difference with the babies. (usually have to ask). The parents of girls perceived their babies to be softer, smaller and more finely featured than the parents of boys who described their babies as stronger, sterdier, larger, better coordinated it was their perception of the differencves of boys and girls that got them to c these differences. If parents r applying the gender beliefs as soon as the baby is born, would knowledge of the sex b4 the birth influence the mother’s behaviour? Will she b more cautious if it’s a girl cause shes carrying a delicate thing, or less cautious cause boys are sturdy. Parents behave differently towards their baby boys and girls - Video of a 9month old ½ told that they were watching a boy and ½ that it was a girl but all saw the same video but only their gender identity (expectations) were different. Their perceptions of the child were influnenced; adult was playing with a jack in the box and the baby started crying- the observers who thougth they were watching a boy they concluded SEX AND GENDER: Becoming Male/Female; The Biology of Socialization October 25, 2010 that he was angry but the ppl that thought they werte watching a girl thought that she was afraid (even thoug they watched the same clip) - And when the child gets older: o Boys are encouraged to develop “wings”- given the opportunity to explore the world
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