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Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Culture

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SOC 1100

Ch. 8 Understanding Sexuality Sex: A Biological Issue  Sex; the biological distinction between females and males o From a biological pov sex is the way that humans reproduce, a female ovum and a male sperm each containing 23 pairs of chromosomes combin to form a fertilized embryo  The mother contributes the X and the father either X or Y (XX female/XY Male) a child's sex is determined biologically at the moment of conception  If the embryo is male testicular tissue starts to produce large amounts of testosterone a hormone that triggers the develop. of male sex organs  If little testosterone is present female organs develop  There are about 105 boys for every 100 girls but with a higher death rate females make up a slight majority by their mid-thirties Sex and the Body  The two sexes have different primary sex characteristics namely the genitals and reproductive systems o At puberty additional sex differentiation develops secondary sex characteristics ; generally woman have wider ships for giving birth, milk producing breasts while men develop more muscular upper bodies and extensive body hair o *Sex is not the same as gender. Gender is an element of culture that refers to the personal traits and patterns of behavior attached to being male or female o Intersexual people refers to people whose bodies including genitals have both male and female characteristics (hermaphrodite)  A true hermaphrodite has both a female ovary and a male testis  Within our society the demand for clear labels require parents to record the sex of a child as one or the other o Transsexuals refer to those who feel they are one sex even while being biologically another  Becoming transgendered means disregarding the conventional ideas of how male and females are to look and behave  Gender reassignment; surgical alterations of their genitals accompanied by hormone treatments to match the biological sex to the mental sex Sex: A Cultural Issue Cultural Variation  In 1948 Kinsey found that most hetero couples in the US reported having sex in a single position (missionary), in the could seas most couples never have sex that way and find it strange o The practice of showing affection varies from society to society, modesty is also a cultural variable  Colton (1983) reports that when interrupted during a bath an Islamic woman covers her face, Laotian her breast… o Some societies restrict sexuality and others are more permissive, in China norms closely regulate sexuality The Incest Taboo  A cultural universal norm forbidding sexual relations or marriage between certain relatives o The closeness of relatives varies between societies in some places it is restricted to the immediate family (parents and siblings) other more extended (cousins)  The Dinee apply incest only to the mother and maternal relatives o Partially attributed to biology; reproduction between close relatives raises the odds of producing offspring with genetic diseases o The fact that humans are the only species that recognizes incest suggest that it is a necessary element of social organization limiting the sexual competition within families Sexual Attitudes  The early Puritan settlers demanded strict conformity in attitudes and behaviour, and imposed severe penalties for what they perceived as sexual misconduct; regulation of sexuality has continued ever since o Combined with our individualistic culture Canadian society is both restrictive and permissive with the majority seeing sexual conduct in terms of personal morality (so long as it is consensual) The Sexual Revolution  The 20th C saw profound changes in sexual attitudes and practices o Kinsey set the revolution post WW2 publishing his first study in 1948 causing an uproar both from his finding that revealed Americans as far less conventional than most thought and the fact that scientists were actually studying sex. o In the late 1960s youth culture dominated public life and expressed a freer attitude towards sex and the revolution truly came of age o Technology also played a part; the birth control pill made sex more convenient than condoms or a diaphragm because it didn't need to be taken directly prior intercourse allowing woman to be spontaneous  The revolution increased sexual activity overall but it changed the behaviour of woman much more than that of men o Societies double standard allows and even encourages men to be sexually active but expects woman to remain virgins until marriage and then faithful afterwards, each year after the revolution narrows the double standard The Sexual Counter-revolution  Politically speaking this was a conservative call for a return to "family values and a change from sexual freedom to what some viewed as sexual responsibility o Rejected free love, cohabitation and child bearing by unmarried couples  Did not cause a regression Premarital Sex  In Canada attitudes toward premarital sex changed dramatically between 1975 and 1995 o The view of premarital sex has changed (opinions of "not at all wrong" increased 39% to 57% and "always wrong" decreased from 19% to 13%) o Americans are less liberal o While general attitudes concerning premarital sex is divided it is widely practiced among young people Sex between Adults  Laumann found that the frequency of sexual activity varies widely amond Americans o 1/3 adults have sex with a partner a few times a year or not at all, another 1/3 once or several times a month and the remainder two or more times a week  Bibby found similar results in canada o 24% report rare or no sexual activity, 23% are active 1 to 3x a month and 53% have sex at least once a week, Quebecers report higher levels of sexual activity than Canadians as a whole  Laumann studied the subjective sexual well being of adults in 29 countries and found that sexual satisfaction also varies with Austria leading with 71.4% of sexually active adults feeling satisfied with their sex lives (Austria 1st, Canada 3rd, US 5th/Thailand, China and Japan among the least satisfied) Extramarital Sex  Is widely condemned more than 85% of Canadian and 90% of American adults consider extramarital sex to be "almost always wrong" or "always wrong". o Cultural ideals often differ form real life, extramarital sex is more common than it should be Sexual Orientation  Is a person's romantic and emotional attraction to another person o Heterosexuality; sexual attraction to a member of the opposite sex o Homosexuality; sexual attraction to a member of the same sex o Bisexuality o Asexuality  Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual behaviour, many people experience attraction to a sex that they never engage in sexual behaviour with mostly because society discourages such actions  Ancient Greeks among upper-class men homosexuality was considered the highest form of relationship (mostly because they saw woman as intellectually inferior) heterosexual relations was only necessary to produce children and "real men" preferred homosexual relations  Foucault (1978, 1990) establishes that until a century ago there was no distinct category for homosexual acts because people say no basis for the behaviour to have a special identity o Patterns of homosexuality differ across cultures, diverse patterns of sexual expression indicates that they are social constructs  Growing evidence suggests that sexual orientation is innate or biological o LeVay links sexual orientation to the structure of a person's brain finding a small but important difference in the size of the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates hormones. o One study found that in 44 pairs of homosexual brothers 33 pairs had a distinct genetic pattern on the X chromosome and that they also usually had a high number of gay male relatives on the mothers side  Some social scientists put the say population at about 10%  The gay rights mov't began using the term homophobia to describe the dread of close personal interaction with people thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual Controversies Teen Pregnancy  Surveys indicate that the rate of teen pregnancy in American is 100 per 1000, most are unplanned. US rates are the hiest of all high-income countries and twice that of Canada o Half of Canada's teen pregnancies end in abortion Pornography  Refers to sexually explicit material that causes sexual arousal and is legal in Canada, obscenity which is undue exploitations of sex and violations of community standards is illegal o Public concern is that pornography and violence encourages people to commit violent and sexually
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