W1- Biology versus culture—Biology is the answer
Sociobiology: The systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior. Within
the limitations imposed by our genes certain characteristics such as competitiveness and sexual
selection has become a part of human biogram.( genetically encoded biological prog). Basic
message: genetics is destiny. Sex based division of labour b/w m&f is genetically coded and can
never change no matter how much our societies develop in future.
Sociobiologists claim that at some point in human evolutionary history, certain forms of behave
maximized the reproductive success of the organisms that exhibited them and became
genetically encoded within the species through the operation of Darwinian natural selection.
Natural selection is used to explain both the physical characteristics of animals including humans
and their behave. Human behave is no different from rats or mosquitos. It is bred into Homo
sapiens through evolutionary pronicples.
Steven Goldberg- It is not environment but inborn differences that give masculine and feminine
direction to the emotions and behaviors of men and women
All past societies shows evidences of patriarchies- men dominate women. from Pygmy to Swede
(old to new societies)
Matriarchies-women dominate men are myths
All societies: highest statuses, politics ruled by hierarchies overwhelmingly dominated by men
Reasons: males exhibit necessary behaviors in environment to attain dominance in hierarchies
and male-female relationships. Desire for affection, health, family life, safety, relaxation etc to
attain dominance and status.
Exceptional individuals=Highly achieving woman do not refute the physiological roots of
Male dominance- Psychophysiological reality.
Any interpretation other than inborn differences bw men and women is wrongheaded and
ignorant. To say that socialization in a particular way has given males dominance is wrong- it is
nature that has made men more dominant and powerful over women.
Acknowledge this reality- don’t defend discrimination against women.
“Biology leads m&f to different behaviors and attiitudes regardless of how we feel or wish for it
to be different.
Parental Investment- Why women in all societies care for children. b/c a woman contributes
more than a man does from concepltion. Sperms are cheap( 1 eaculation= billion or more sperm
cells. Eggs precious ( 1 egg ripens/ month) each female has finite number of eggs.
Greater genetic investment for females
Sociobiologists declare “Evolutionary insanity” - if women relinquish primary responsibility of
childrearing after spending her bodily resources and 9 months time.
Cheap sperm/precious eggs- legitimate the double standard of human sexual behavior. Male
promiscuity= evolutionary adaptive as it increases the livelihood of mans genes will survive,
women should choose 1 best partner to mate. Males= promiscuous; female=monogamous
Sociobiologists say that monogamy evolved to promote infant survival and solidify bond.
Critics- sociobiology uses circular reasoning and is simplistic, reductionist, untestable. Have not
identified specific genes that influence social behaviors. Genetic exp cant account for rapid
sociocultural changes for ex: marital patterns, infant nurturing practices etc or for cultural
variations in human behav.
Sociobiology- gives aid to supporters of the “status quo” by stating that human nature is fixed,
unchangeable and any efforts to improve society are doomed to fail. Blatantly sexist &
androcentric in theories and examples. Ignore female chimpanzee sexual behavior as more
promiscuous. Selective use of species leveled against all research nd theorizing that attempts to
generalize from animal to human behav
Faulted for Anthropomorphizm- Sociobiologists generalized human behanvior and
characteristics to animals and even vegetation. For ex use of word “rape”
Sociologists- sociobiological position as unappealing as bypasses sociologys essential concern
human design their own cultures and unique ways of life. Reject mechanistic claim tht humannn
behav is attributable to genetic programming. Defy reduction to simple biological formula.
Evolutionary psychology: Attempt to blend biology, anthro, psych nd psychiatry by sociobio.
Genecentric focus on inherited traits- failure to consider the wide variation in human behave
Sociologists argued that gender socialization nd social location rather than evolutionary forces
are responsible for any sex differences in atitudes about love sexual fidelity etc.
Sam, Joe and bill fear their sexual problems damages their sense of masculinity. Making them
less of a “real man”
Gender and Sexuality are socially constructed
Sexuality varies from culture to culture we are made sexual beings not born
The foundation on which we socially construct sexuality is our gender
Gender informs sexuality; sexuality confirms gender
It is through our understanding of masculinity and feminity that we construct a sexuality and
through our sexualities that we confirm the successful construction of our gender
What we consider masculine or feminine in our culture is the result of neither some biological
imperative nor some religious requirement but a socially organized mode of behavior.
French men in 18 century- long hair, high heels facial powder and love for poetry is the
opposite of version of masculinity now.
Masculinity- avoidance of behaviors associated with femininity.
Male sexual socialization teaches young men that sex is secret, morally wrong and pleasurable.
They detach their emotions from sexual expression. Detachment requires a self-objectification,
distancing from ones self and development of a secret sexual self that performs sexual acts
according to culturally derived scripts.
Normative heterosexuality assigns to men the role of doer and woman the role of gatekeeper. W4: Women’s health
Health issues have galvanized political consciousness among women globally. Fundamental
political question: who is to control womens own bodies their physical selves?
These issues relate to how the health care system operates to reinforce and sustain power
hierarchies within a given race age and gender structure.
Understanding the women health issues helps us understand an important impetus for women
to organize and reform society.
Definitions of health are culturally variable what is considered normal and what is considered
illness vary widely across societies
WHO: health as state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the
absence of disease and infirmity.
Womens health movement: health as not ust the absence of disease but and integral part of a
woman total life experience linked to her place in society.
Black women’s health imperative/ national black womens health project: recognized benefits of
physical activity for women. African American no parks to walk etc. obstacles black women
Women health movement took steps to reform the health care systems to make it responsive
for women needs. Called for changes in services a society provides for women as they have
been discriminated against not only as recipants but also providers of health care services.
Most medications were made on the basis of research on men and not much data was found on
appropriate amounts, side effects and effectiveness of those treatment and medications on
women. situation recently changing.
US women health activists- managed to keep abortion legal. Women now demand more
information about their body and health and stronger role in decision making regarding health
19 cent- western male medial establishment co-opted womens role in healing and
documented its consequences for women.
Most societies- women as caretakers: birth, care for infant and children, care for sick and
wounded, elderly and dead. Often no one to help caretaker in need of assistance.
Although regular day to day caretaking is done largely by women, male authorities in many
western societies dominate the more prestigious forms of healing, organizing into a professional
group that largely excludes women from its ranks.
Societies assign health care authority to men.
Men prevailed as leaders in 19 cent of professional health care system and propagated ideals
about what a normal womans health is like. Ideals were gender, class, race, and heterosexist
Menstruation seemed unhealthy, abnormal and dangerous to men. Pregnancy- mysterious and
frightening. If men are authorities of the health care system then their subjective intrepretations
are also conveyed to women who learn to perceive the world through mens “expert” eyes. Today: Western societies increasingly medicalized, object of medical knowledge. Menstruation,
pregnancy and delivery now the domain of medical establishment.
Woman as deviant. Woman as abnormal man has much deeper roots.
Greek physician women were inside out men, Galen viewed women as defective persons. Since
women are inferior diseases are caused by their inferior genitalia.
Later centuries new science and reason overtook the dominant role of these spiritual leaders in
western societies. Information about birth control and abortion, guidance for women etc now
Women as weaker sex: Women were placed in an illogical dichotomus position during industrial
revolution. Continued to be considered pathological( with diseases) women were considered as
moral guardians of society.
Women perceived as physically weak, delicate health and vulnerable from the fact that they
have wombs. Uterus as source of illness both of body and mind.
1970s less than 8% of all US physicians were female.
Western societies have medicalized menstruation, childbirth, menopause and sexuality.
Women’s bodies and men’s bodies are more alike than they are different from one another.
They are largely subject to the same hazards to their health: illness, accidents and disabilities.
Some significant differences- comparing m&f health status(rate of illness and death)
Some hazards are unique to women because they concern female reproductive organs and
Some hazards shared by both but experienced differently by women b/c of different roles
assigned to women.
Behavioral differences like substance abuse and driving behavior patterned by gender.
In the past men on average had greater access to nutritional foods and lived longer than
women. But now everywhere in world women outlive men.
Leading cause of death in men and women is coronary heart disease but more women die of it
According to indicators such as disability days, hospitalization and visits to physicians women
display greater rates of illness than men.
Risk factors affecting women health: Poverty, racial/ethnic discrimination, occupational health
risk, violence and rape.
Poverty- greatest hazard. Two out of three women suffer from it. single mothers and women
alone over age of 65. Malnutrition and fatigue. Outcome: premature death. Poor women=less
knowledge to identify. No health insurance, no financial resource to pay for treatment or means
of obtaining if free b/c of transportation cost or loss of work hours. Lack of shelter and adequate
clothes. Risk of violence. Women more likely to be poor then men
racial/ethnic discrimination: African americans higher rates of illness than white. Often
biological factors, but genetic inheritance alone is inadequate to account for health status.
Stress of race status affects physical and mental health( cardiovascular and depression prob)
Although all women face additional health risk cuz of gender factors such as poverty and racial
status combine to greater health risk for women. Some health care providers don’t understand same sex relations and might mistreat not provide
Heart disease, cancer, stds, birth control, sterilization and abortion.depression
One in every two women experience heart disease. Undertreats and underdiagnosis women
poor women more likely to get stds due to lack of information. Birth control options are limited
due to lack of research into effective new tech
Men of color, adolescent males, gay and bisexual males, prison inmates, male athletes, alcohol
abuse more likely to suffer from diseases mostly Aids, testicular cancer, hepatitis or
Tranditional masculinity endanger their health, and risk of illness and early death.
W5B1: Men as gendered beings
Men are not born they are made. Actively construct gender within a social and historical
Sex maybe male but our identity as man is developed through a complex process of interaction
with culture in which we learn gender scripts appropriate to culture.
French men 17 cent different from masculinity today.
W5B2: Homophobia among men.
Homophobia is the irrational fear or intolerance of homosexuality. Most often associated with
the fear of male homosexuality. In many cases is a characteristic of individuals who are generally
rigid and sexist. Not a medically recognized phobia.
Irrational: generally embodies misconceptions and