Being male or female involves not just biology but also certain “masculine” and “feminine”
feelings, attitudes, and behaviours.
Gender comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviours associated with being male or female.
Expectations about how men and women are supposed to act have changed only somewhat
since the 1960s.
Males are generally expected to act tough and hide their emotions. Boys tend to learn at a young
age that crying or displaying their feelings in public is likely to result in taunts and accusations of
being a “sissy.”
Great pressure can be brought to bear on individuals who do not conform to gender expectation
o Brenda was tormented by her peers for not acting feminine.
According to Dr. Diane Watson 1 in every 5000 to 10,000 Canadians is transgendered and 1 in
30,000 Canadians is fully transsexual.
The apparent contradiction between biological sex and gender experienced by these individuals
(Transsexuals) brings us back to the question of how we define males and females.
We typically accept “masculine men” and “feminine women” as normal – transgendered
individuals suffer from a psychiatric disorder.
Margrit Eichler (sociologist) points out that sex-change operation would be unnecessary if
masculinity and femininity were less rigid since “gender identity problem” would not be defined
o Our society does not recognize the validity of intermediate sexes
Evidence suggests that if gender reassignment takes place before the age of 18 months, it tend
to be “successful”
o This was why David/Brenda was a failure (He has 2 years old when the sex reassignment
Gender roles are entirely natural and spring fully formed from human physiology. But no one-to-
one relationship exists between sex and gender. The two may be in discord, as transgendered
individuals and transsexuals demonstrate.
Sexual behaviour often departs widely from biological sex and sociological gender.
Sexual scripts are linked to gender roles.
Mean are expected to be the sexual aggressors, and women are expected to desire love before
intimacy, giving only subtle cues to indicate their interest in male overtures. Women are often
held accountable for moral standards and contraception.
Sexuality was assumed to be heterosexuality.
Homosexuality was considered a serious psychiatric disorder until 1974.
The assumption of heterosexuality has negative implications for both lesbians and gays, they face
discrimination, are denied basic civil rights in most countries.
Feminists say that heterosexuality puts all women at a disadvantage, because heterosexuality is
based on unequal economic, political, legal and social relations between women and men.
o Some says that women should reject heterosexuality altogether since all such
relationships are based on inequality.
Institutionalization of heterosexuality in marriage and the family is a way of ensuring males’
rights to physical, economic, and emotional access to women.
Premarital sex is widely accepted by the Canadian public, the great majority of Canadians also
approve of an unmarried couple living together.
o Premarital sex extends to teenagers
Men are more willing than women to participate in unconventional sexual activities.
Sexual activity declines with age.
Men report more frequent sexual intercourse than women, while women more often report
abstention than men.
Men and women differ in terms of the standards they use to justify sexual activity.
o “love standard” – sexual activity is acceptable as long as the partners are in love. o “fun standard” – sexual activity is acceptable as long as both partners want it.
In Canada, men and francophones are more likely than women and Anglophones are more likely
than women and anglophones to endorse the fun standard.
Hatfield reports that men are somewhat more concerned than women with sex. Women are
somewhat more concerned than men with love.
Women are more likely to cite “affection for partner” as the major reason for their first
intercourse experience. Men most often mention “curiosity.”
3% of women report having their first sexual experience for physical pleasure. In contrast, 12%
of men cite this reason.
Men have sexual thoughts more often than women, and more likely to have first intercourse at a
Canadians are being more tolerant of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
o Acceptance of homosexuality is strongly correlated with age, gender, and region.
Estimates of the prevalence (very common) of homosexuality depend on how homosexuality is
o An estimate based on sexual identity results in a lower percentage than does an estimate
focusing on sexual orientation.
It is inaccurate to think about sexuality in terms of a strict dichotomy between heterosexuality
o More appropriate to conceptualize sexuality as comprising four continual sexual attraction,
sexual desire, sexual behaviour, and sexual identity.
Attitudes about extramarital affairs are more conservative than those about homosexuality.
Changing attitudes toward extramarital affairs are part of a more general tendency for people to
have fewer sexual partners. (ex. HIV/AIDS)
In 1960s – 1970s, sexual attitudes were relatively liberal, but once sexually transmitted diseases
became widely known 1980s, many people became more cautious in their sexual relations.
Most arguments about the origins of gender differences in human behaviour depot one of two
perspectives, essentialism and social constructionism.
Essentialism has many variants, most of which originate in biology and psychology.
o Three most popular variants: brain studies, socio-biology, and Freudian theory.
Brain studies – Brain comprises two hemispheres, some rain researchers argue that the two
hemispheres develop differently in boys and girls.
o For males, secret testosterone washes over the brain and briefly inhibits the growth of
the left hemisphere. Use of the right hemisphere becomes dominant in men.
o The bundle of fibres connecting the left and right hemispheres is bigger in women, which
allows them to use the hemispheres more symmetrically.
o The gender division of labour is perfectly natural, structured by our brains rather than by
society (Men are excel in math, artistic, musical whereas women are excel in language
Sociobiology – E. O. Wilson (1975) is its leading exponent.
o Wilson argues that all human beings want to ensure that their genes get passed on to
future generations. The most feminine women and the most masculine men had a better
chance of surviving and passing their genes to their offspring.
o David Buss argues that four adaptive strategies govern the relations between the sexes
and contribute to the preservation of the human species. First, men want casual sex with
women. Second, men treat women’s bodies as mens’ property. Third, mean beat or kill
womean who incite male sexual jealousy. Fourth, women are greedy for money.
o Buss bases argument that a woman has a bigger investment than a man in the survival
of their offspring. He says that it is ain a woman’s best interest to maintain primary
responsibility for her genetic child and to look around for the best mate with whom to
intermix her genes. Women’s alleged greed for money in contempo