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University of Toronto Scarborough
Women's and Gender Studies
Victoria Tahmasebi

SECTION 1 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 behavior  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. W3:  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 faced.  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 care policies.  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. th  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 biases.  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 available.  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 experiences.  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 than men.  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 proper help.  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 tuberculosis.  Tranditional masculinity endanger their health, and risk of illness and early death. SECTION 2 W5B1: Men as gendered beings  Men are not born they are made. Actively construct gender within a social and historical context.  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
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