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University of Toronto St. George
Sheldon Ungar

Gender and Sexuality Defining Male and Female: Sex and Gender Your sex depends on whether you were born with distinct male or female genitalia and a genetic program that released either male or female hormones to stimulate the development of your reproductive system. Gender comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors associated with being male or female. Identification with, or sense of belonging to, a particular sex biologically, psychologically, and socially is known as gender identity. People adopt a gender role when they behave according to widely shared expectations about how males or females are supposed to act. Transgendered: gender identity does not exactly match the sex assigned to them at birth. Transsexuals identify with the opposite sex from that assigned to them at birth, causing them to change their appearance or resort to a sex-change operation. Transgendered people represent a problem for most people only cuz our society does not recognize the validity of intermediate sexes. Expectations about sexual behavior are arguably among the most rigid of our gender norms, yet sexual behavior often departs widely from biological sex and sociological gender. Sexuality refers to activities that are intended to lead to erotic arousal and produce genital response. Sexual behavior is guided by a set of sexual scripts that tell us whom we should find attractive, when and where it is appropriate to be aroused, what is permissible, and how to behave sexually. These scripts linked to gender roles. For a long time, sexuality was assumed to be heterosexuality. Even today, many people assume that individuals should desire only members of the opposite sex. Sociologists call this assumption compulsory heterosexuality. The assumption of heterosexuality has negative implications for both lesbians and gays. They face discrimination, are denied basic civil rights in most countries, and risk abuse, including gay-bashing. Adrienne Rich defines compulsory heterosexuality: the ideologically and materially enforced insistence that women see themselves entirely as the complements of men and live under male control or risk severe sanctions ranging from social stigma to death. Sexual Attitudes and Behavior Men and women differ in terms of the standards they use to justify sexual activity. Hobart distinguishes the love standard, according to which sexual activity is acceptable as long as both partners are in love, from the fun standard, according to which sexual activity is acceptable as long as both partners want it. He shows in Canada men and francophones are more likely than women and anglophones to endorse the fun standard. Also, men are somewhat more concerned than women with sex. Women are somewhat more concerned than men with love. American research shows that women are more likely to cite affection for partner as the major reason for their first intercourse experience followed by curiosityreadiness for sex. Men are often mention curiosity followed by affection. Canadians now are more tolerant with premarital sex and unmarried couple living together, as well with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Acceptance of homosexuality is strongly correlated with age, gender, and region. Estimates of the prevalence of homosexuality depend on how homosexuality is measured. An estimate based on sexual identity results in a lower percentage than does an estimate focusing on sexual orientation (the way a person derives sexual pleasure, including whether desirable partners are of the same or a different sex). It is more appropriate to conceptualize sexuality as comprising 4 continua: sexual attraction, sexual desire, sexual behavior, and sexual identity than in terms of a strict dichotomy btw heterosexuality and homosexuality. Changing attitudes toward extramarital affairs are part of a more general tendency for people to have fewer sexual partners. Although there are undoubtedly several reasons for this tendency, one of the most important is the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Does sex determine destiny? Essentialism Essentialism: perspective that gender is a reflection of naturally evolved dispositions. Social constructionism: perspective that gender is a reflection of the different social positions occupied by women and men. Essentialists first observe male-female differences in sexual scripts, the division of labor at home and in the workplace, mate selection, sexual aggression, jealousy, promiscuity, fidelity, and so forth. Essentialism has many variants, most of which originate in biology and psychology. Here we briefly consider 3 of the most popular variants: brain studies, sociobiology, and Freudian theory. Brain Studies Male-female differences in brain structure are sometimes said to account for male- female differences in behavior and achievement. Use of the right hemisphere of brain becomes dominant in men, which supposedly allows men to excel in mathematical, artistic, musical, and visual-spatial abilities. Women use the hemispheres more symmetrically, giving them an edge in feelings, intuition, language skills, and quick judgments. Men presumably best at jobs requiring logic and visual-spatial manipulation. Women presumably best at jobs requiring empathy, intuition, and language skills. Sociobiology E.O. Wilson argues that the different reproductive status of men and women means they have had to overcome different adaptive problems and develop different adaptive strategies. This gave rise to patterns of behavior we now call masculine and feminine. Individuals who possessed the characteristics that best resolved these problems had a better chance of surviving and passing their genes to their offspring. David Buss, a well-known evolutionary psychologist, argues that 4 adaptive strategies or universal features of our evolved selves govern the relations btw the sexes and contribute to the preservation of the human species. Men want casual sex, men treat women as property, men beat or kill women who incite male sexual jealousy, and women are greedy for money. Reason for Buss theory: women can produce less eggs so less sex, men produce more sperm so more sex.
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