SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Kurgan, Sexual Assault, Liberal Feminism
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Chapter 11: Sexuality And Gender Stratification
Sex Versus Gender
Is It A Boy Or Girl?
A baby boy lost his penis during a circumcision procedure and would be intersexed for his life.
Intersexed - infants are babies born with ambiguous genitals because of a hormone imbalance in
the womb or some other cause
Dr. John Money reassigned the baby to female. Reassigned as a man, BUT David Reimer committed
Gender Identity And Gender Role
Sex - depends on whether you were born with distinctive male or female genitals and genetic
programs that released either male or female hormones to stimulate the development of your
Gender - refers to the feelings attitudes desires and behaviors that are associated with a particular
Gender has three components:
o Sexuality- refers to a person's capacity for erotic experiences and expressions.
o Gender identity- refers to a person sense of belonging to a particular sexual category (male,
female, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual)
o Gender role- refers to the behavior that conforms to widely shared expectations about how
members of a particular sexual category are supposed to act
Babies have a vague sense of identity at 1 and fully developed gender identity at 2 and 3.
If gender assignment is before 18 months = successful before social learning, NOT biological
Heteronormativity - Is the belief that sex is binary (one must be either male or female as
conventionally understood) and that sex ought to be perfect aligned with gender (one's sexuality,
gender identity and gender role ought to be either male or female as conventionally understood).
Social learning is heteronormative heterosexuality is seen as normal
Heterosexuality- is the preference for members of the opposite sex as sexual partners.
BUT Some reject the gender assigned to them negative sanctions to conform or punish them
Theories Of Gender
Essentialism - is a school of thought that views gender differences as a reflection of biological
differences between women and men gender as a essence of biological makeup
Social constructionism - gender is constructed by people living in historically specific social
structures and cultures gender differences due to different social positions of women and men
Modern Essentialism: Sociobiology And Evolutionary Psychology
Sociobiologists and Evolutionary psychologists - all humans instinctively try to ensure that their
genes are passed on to future generations BUT men and women have different strategies
o Women produce a small number of eggs and must find the best mate (support with money)
o Men have unlimited sperm cells, thus many chance to pass on genes (Promiscuity,
competitiveness and aggressiveness increases chances) casual sex
Functionalism And Essentialism
Functionalism - traditional gender roles help us to integrate into society
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o Men work in the paid labor force (masculinity essence), women raise children & manage
the house (femininity essence) each generation learns (men ≠ feminine, women ≠
A Critique Of Essentialism From The Conflict And Feminist Perspectives
Conflict and Feminist theorists - disagree with essentialism
o Essentialism ignores the historical and cultural variability of gender and sexuality
o Gender inequality, male violence against women, criteria for mate selection all have
o Eg. Women select mates with less of a provider role and men choose women with less
domestic skills in low-inequality societies.
o Eg. Women become lawyers and police officers inducing their masculinity
o Eg. Men are aggressive and females are too, their aggressiveness overlaps.
o There is little/no evidence supporting essentialists No evidence of genes that cause male
jealousy, female nurturance and unequal division of labor
o “Existing behavior patterns ensure survival of species” WRONG ignores men are in
Conflict theorist Friedrich Engels located the root of male domination in class inequality.
preliterate societies produced more than needed for their own survival (industrial capitalism)
some men gained control over economic surplus. Rules:
Only men could own property wealthy, powerful
Women have to be sexually faithful to husbands subordinate, domestic
Feminist theorists - male domination greater in pre-capitalist, agrarian societies. It’s evident in
socialist or communist societies more related to patriarchal authority relations, family
structures, and patterns of socialization and culture Behavioral differences result from men
being in a position to impose their interests on women.
Social Constructionism and Symbolic Interactionism
Social constructionism - apparently natural or innate features of life, such as gender, are actually
sustained by social processes that vary historically and culturally conflict, feminist and
symbolic interactionists (attach meanings to gender) theories are a type of social constructionism
Barbie dolls were the first doll modeled after an adult 1959, seen as the “ideal woman”
o Eg. pre-set workout scale at 110 pounds, many outfits, bathrooms, gyms, beauty parlors all
to seemingly please Ken body image concern to please men
Gender neutral toys are now decreasing more stereotypical toys reinforce beliefs
Parents, specifically fathers, treat infant boys and girls equal in physicality differently; Girls
feminine characteristics, boys masculine characteristics. Gender stereotype perceptions of
People judge a baby’s startled reaction based on gender, boy angry & girl scared.
Parents (fs) boys = encourage energetic & competitive, girls = encourage cooperative & role-
Girls greater development of verbal and emotional skills, awards for compliance
Boys concern with winning and hierarchy, praise for assertiveness
Gender Segregation and Interaction
Barrie Thorne - children self-segregated themselves in the classroom and while playing games
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