Chapter 11: Sexuality And Gender Stratification
Sex Versus Gender
Is It A BoyOr 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. JohnMoney 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: SociobiologyAnd 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 - traditional gender roles help us to integrate into society 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 CritiqueOf Essentialism FromTheConflict 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 Constructionismand 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 “idealwoman”
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 Less gender separation when boundary crossing occurred while playing stereotypical opposite sex
games, projects, cross-gender contact ordered by adults, in private places where they wouldn’t be
scrutinized if the person was deemed agreeable by the opposite sex.
o 1. children are actively engaged in constructing gender roles (NOT passive of adult
o 2. children tend to segregate themselves by gender BUT boundaries between boys and girls
are sometimes fluid and sometimes rigid depending on social circumstances (NOT fixed).
Adult gender demands are important and reinforced by teachers boys do better in math and
science, girls do better in English generally true.
Single-sex schools allow children to develop faster because they emphasize on academic
excellence and less on physical attractiveness and heterosexual popularity.
Gender ideologies – is a set of interrelated ideas about what constitutes appropriate masculine and
feminine roles and behaviour
o Boys pick courses based on careers (math & science), girls base on career and home
o Women get lower-paying jobs because they consider child caring and housework 53%
women and 6% men “graduation, work, marriage, kids, stop working, work”
o Less women in science and business >75% women working in 10 lowest-paid jobs
The Mass Media and Body Image
Women in media clean houses, take care of children, modeling, acting as objects of male desire
Men in media are aggressive, action-oriented, and authoritative
Eg. Disney movies, Cinderella
People try to shape their bodies after the images portrayed in mass media body image now is a
self-definition women ideal became thinner
North Americans became overweight health problems = overweight desire to slim down
extreme body types = good for business fitness, diet, low-calorie food, and cosmetic surgery
56% of women and 43% of men graduates in a NA uni. were dissatisfied with their appearance
o 3% women and 22% men of those dissatisfied with their appearance wanted to gain weight
o Great desire for men to be muscular and women to be slim Canadian women 5x more
likely than men to be underweight
26 country study of women’s body dissatisfaction show at 24.7 years, most wanted to be slimmer
than they already were since their self-reported body image was heavier than the body ideal
which varied in every world region.
o American women most dissatisfied, men viewed heavier women more undesirable.
o Variation in dissatisfaction due to exposure to media from the Western world
Body dissatisfaction motivates people (80% women, 50% men) to diet
o 1/4 women 1/6 men would trade 3 years of their life to reach their weight goal
o 50% female 30% male smokers do so to control their weight
o 1-5% North American women suffer from eating and weight loss disorders
o 1-5% NA female, 0.2-1.5% NA male college students suffer from bulimia
Gender roles children learn form the basis of social interaction as adults
o Boys learn that social interaction is about competition, conflict, self-sufficiency and
hierarchical relationships. take center stage
o Girls learn that social interaction is about maintaining cordial relationships, avoiding
conflict, and resolving differences of opinion through negotiation don’t like being bossy
Thus, men and women often have conflict Eg. asking for directions
Glass ceiling – is a social barrier that makes it difficult for women to rise to the top level of
management o Eg. women consider everyone’s opinions while in a managerial position “we”, but men
don’t “I” and men can see women as indecisive and incompetent
Sexuality and Resistance to Conventional Gender Roles
Minority of people resist conventional gender role varying degrees of maleness and femaleness
Transgendered – people break society’s gender norms by defying the rigid distinction between
male and female 1/5000-10000 in North America
o Eg. cross-dressers – gender identify with one sex and dress in clothing for the opposite sex
o Transsexuals – believe they were born with the “wrong” body. They i