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Chapter 4

SOC101Y1 - New Society - Sixth Edition - Chapters 4, 5, 6 & 14 Notes

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Adam Green

SOCIOLOGY REVIEW #2 (CHAPTERS 4, 5, 6 & 14) CHAPTER 4: GENDER AND SEXUALITY: THE CASE OF DAVID/BRENDA:  In April 1966, identical twin boys were circumcised but due to an error, one the babies had his penis entirely burnt  Baby was named David Reimer  Expert medical advice said he could never live as a man normally  His parents watched a CBC television program featuring John Money who could reassign David’s sex  On July 3, 1967, David underwent surgical castration and reconstructive surgery to become Brenda  But David/Brenda struggled against his/her imposed girlhood from the start  In 1979, Brenda made the decision to stop living as a girl  In 1980, her father told Brenda the truth and by the age of 16, she started taking male hormone treatments and had her breasts removed and a penis surgically constructed  He had sex with a woman at the age of 23  Later married her and adopted her three children  In May 2004, at the age of 38, his committed suicide  This case introduces many issues: how we define female and male? What is the relationship between biological sex and the attitudes and behaviours that we associate with being male or female? What are the implications of this relationship for our sexual identity and relations? DEFINING MALE AND FEMALE:  Most distinguish men and women on the basis of biological sex which depends on whether you were born with distinct make or female genitalia and the a genetic program that released either male of female hormones  Differences between sex organs are noticeable by the 14 week after conception  Only one scientific sex difference = the hypothalamus makes the female brain sensitive to estrogen and is responsible for creating menstrual cycles in women  Being male of female is more than just biological sex differences  Certain masculine and feminine feelings, attitudes and behaviours = GENDER = are important too  Gender comprises the feelings, attitudes and behaviours associated with being male or female  The identification with or a sense of belonging to a particular sex is GENDER IDENTITY  When people behave accordingly to expectations about males and females, this is known as GENDER ROLE  Expectations about how men and women are supposed to act have changed only somewhat since the 1960s (Example: in the 1960s-70s, males were expected to act tough and hide their emotions – this is still true today because boys still learn that displaying feelings in public is likely to result in taunts of being a “sissy”)  Great pressure can be brought to bear on individuals who do not conform (Example: Brenda)  People are TRANSGENDERED when their gender identity does not exactly match the sex assigned to them at birth; they blur widely accepted gender roles (Example: cross-dressing)  TRANSEXUALS 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  M. Eichler points out that if masculinity and femininity were less rigid, sex-change operations would be unnecessary since someone with a gender identity problem would not be defined as sick (Example: the rigidity of gender roles probably contributed to the failure of the Brenda’s sex-change operation)  The rigidity fosters the view that gender roles are entirely natural and spring fully formed human physiology  Expectations about sexual behaviour are arguably among the most rigid of our gender norms SEXUALITY:  Refers to the activities that are intended to lead to erotic arousal and produce genital response  Is guided by a set of sexual scripts that tell us whom we should find attractive, where and when it is appropriate to be aroused, what is permissible and how to behave sexually  Scripts are linked to gender roles  For a long time, it was assumed to be heterosexuality  Homosexuality was considered a serious disorder until 1974  COMPUSLORY HETEROSEXUALITY = when people assume that individuals should desire only members of the opposite sex; this has negative effects for gays and lesbians because they face discrimination, denied basic civil rights and risk abuse  A. Rich says that institutionalization of heterosexuality in marriage and family is a way of ensuring males’ rights to physical, economic, and emotional access to women SEXUAL ATTTUDES AND BEHAVIOUR:  Surveys reveal some departure from tradition and considerable diversity  Now premarital sex is accepted by the Canadian public and also approve of unmarried couples living together  A study shows men are more willing than women to participate in unconventional sexual activities  Sexual activity declines with age but a number of people over 70 say they engage in sexual activity at least once a week  For nearly all age groups, men report more frequent intercourse than women, while more women report abstention  Men and women differ in terms of the standards they use to justify sexual activity  Hobart distinguishes LOVE STANDARD = sexual activity is acceptable as long as the partners are in love /AND/ FUN STANDARD = sexual activity is acceptable as long as both want it  Men and francophones are more likely than women and Anglophones to endorse the fun standard  One study found that men over 18 have sexual thoughts more often than women, are more likely to have oral sex, have first intercourse at a younger age, have more sexual partners and are more in favour of casual sex  Canadians are also becoming more tolerant of homosexuality and same-sex marriage  Acceptance is strongly correlated with age, gender and region; young adults, women and residents of Quebec and BC are more accepting  Findings suggest that 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)  It is more appropriate to conceptualize sexuality as compromising sexual attraction, sexual desire, sexual behaviour and sexual identity  Attitudes about extramarital affairs are more conservative than those about homosexuality (Example: in 1975, 28% of Canadians felt that sex with someone other than the partner was almost always wrong and 50% felt it was always wrong; in 1995, figures were 25% and 60%)  Changing attitudes are part of a general tendency for people to have fewer sexual partners due to STDs  The dangers of HIV/AIDS and other STDs have caused more to be more cautious in sexual relations  Surveys provide evidence of wide variation in attitudes toward sex and sexual conduct over time and place; they help to dispel myths but they do not answer questions about the origins of sexual scripts ESSENTIALISM:  First observe male-female differences in sexual scripts, the division of labour at home and in the workplace, mate selection, sexual aggression, jealousy, promiscuity, fidelity, etc…  Interpret these differences as natural and universal  Nature is the ultimate force at work shaping the differences between men and women  Has three variants 1) BRAIN STUDIES - Differences in brain structure are said to account for differences in behaviour and achievement - Brain researchers argue that the two hemispheres develop differently in boys and girls - Use of the right hemisphere becomes dominant in men and allows them to excel in mathematical, artistic, musical and visual-spatial abilities - The bundles of fibres connecting left and right hemispheres is bigger in women which allows them to use the hemispheres more symmetrically, giving them an edge in feelings, intuition, language skills, and quick judgements - It follows from this line of reasoning that the gender division of labour is perfectly natural, structured by our brains rather than by society 2) SOCIOBIOLOGY - Lead by E.O Wilson - Argues that all humans instinctually want to ensure their genes get passed on to future generations and to overcome different adaptive problems, they give rise to masculine and feminine behaviour - Individuals who possessed characteristics that best resolved these problems (the most feminine women, the most masculine men) had a better chance of surviving and passing their genes - Genetic factors also trigger biochemical processes that further enhance sex differences through varying levels of hormone production in women and men - D. Buss noted 4 adaptive strategies that govern the relations between the sexes: i. Men want casual sex with women ii. Men treat women’s bodies as men’s property iii. Men beat or kill women who incite male sexual jealousy iv. Women are greedy for money - Buss argues that a woman has a bigger investment than a man in ensuring the survival of their offspring because she reproduces less eggs than men reproduce sperm - it is adaptive for men to be promiscuous yet jealously possessive of his partners for such a man maximizes the chance that his offspring will be produced - it is in 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; he is the man who can best support the child after birth - Research supports the view that men and women emphasize different characteristics in selecting a mate - Attractive physical features were the most frequently mentioned desirable characteristic in a partner for both men and women - Women were more likely to list professional status, employment status, financial considerations, intelligence, commitment and emotion - Men were more likely to list attractiveness, physique and sexiness - Results do not establish that sex-typed mating preferences are genetically determined 3) FREUDIAN THEORY - Sexuality is the main human instinct and motivates human behaviour and accounts for the development of distinct masculine and feminine gender roles - Children around the age of 3-5 begin to pay attention to their genitals - Young boys become preoccupied with their penises and develops a fantasy of sexually possessing his mother and begins to resent his father because he can sexually possess the mother - Boy develops anxiety that he will be castrated by the father for desiring the mother - To resolve fear, boy represses feelings for his mother and this repression allows him to begin identifying with his father which leads to the development of a strong, masculine personality - Young girls develop a feminine personality when she realizes she lacks a penis - Because of her “penis envy”, the girl develops a sense of inferiority and grows angry with her mother for cutting off her penis - Girl rejects mother and sexually desires father - Realizing she will never have a penis, girl comes to identify with her mother and wish to have a penis is transformed into a desire to have children CRITIQUE OF ESSENTIALISM: 1. Essentialists ignore the historical and cultural variability of gender and sexuality 2. Essentialists ignore the fact that gender differences are declining rapidly and in some cases have already disappeared 3. The research evidence employed is often deeply flawed 4. Essentialists tend to generalize from the average ignoring variations within gender groups 5. Essentialists exaggerate the degree to which gender differences are unchangeable 6. Essentialists offer explanations for gender differences that ignore the role of power SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM:  Argue that gender differences are not the product of biological properties  Instead gender and sexuality are products of social structure and culture  Culture is composed of shared systems of meaning  Social structure refers to the way major institutions are organized; are mostly patriarchal  Stress three main sociohistorical changes that led to gender inequality: 1) Long distance warfare and conquest - Was gender equality in foraging and hunting-and-gathering societies - Between 7000 – 3500 BCE, men and women were equal - 4300 – 4200 BCE, Old Europe was invaded by people from the Asiatics, the Kurgans and the Semites which were based on a hierarchical and patriarchal social structure - Laws reinforced women’s sexual, economic, and political subjugation to men 2) Plow agriculture - Strong adults remain in the fields - Since men were on average stronger than women, and since women were restricted in their activities by pregnancy, nursing and childbirth, plow agriculture made men more powerful socially 3) The separation of public and private spheres - While men went public, most women remained in the domestic or private sphere - Persisted until the second half of the 20 century CONSTRUCTING GENDER THROUGH SOCIALIZATION: 1. PRIMARY - From birth, boys and girls are treated differently - Girls are more likely to be characterized as delicate, weak, beautiful and cute; boys as strong, alert and well-coordinated - Interpretations of behaviour vary by sex - Parents tend to encourage sons to engage in competitive play and daughters to engage in cooperative play - Boys are more likely than girls to be praised for assertiveness and girls are more likely to be rewarded for compliance - Parents reinforce gender-specific behaviour 2. SECONDARY - In most schools, teachers still tend to assume that boys will do better in the sciences and mathematics, girls in languages - Teachers praise boys more than they praise girls and give boys more help - They are likely to agree with boy’s comments during class and give boys instructions on how to complete a task rather than do the task for them - This reinforces gender stereotypes and results in a less effective learning experience for girls - By the age of 14, interaction with peers becomes an important factor in reinforcing gender-typed attitudes and behaviours because subcultures of male and female peer groups emphasize gender- stereotypical values - Boys establish less intimate friendships than girls do - Girls tend to form less extensive friendship networks and focus on sociability, popularity, and attractiveness 3. MASS MEDIA - Symbolic representation creates and reinforces gender stereotypes - Continues in magazines, romance novels, advertisements, music, television and the internet - A big business GENDER SOCIALIZATION AND SEXUALITY:  We receive little formal socialization  We tend to express our sexuality in a framework defined by early, informal gender socialization  For the most part, boys and girls try to develop the skills that will help them perform conventional gender roles  Conventions do change though; today is less sexist than a few generations ago  However the amount of change in gender socialization should not be exaggerated  For every Mulan there is a Little Mermaid, a movie that simply modernizes old themese about female passivity and male conquest  Research shows that men are still more likely than women are to adhere to sexual scripts emphasizing fun, conquest, and orgasm rather than love and emotion  Girls learn sexuality as something they must fear – unwanted pregnancy, sexual assault BODY IMAGE AND EATING DISORDERS:  Social construction of gender involves defining standards of physical attractiveness for women and men and are reinforced by the mass media  Physical attractiveness is important for women because they are judged on the basis of appearance more often than men are  Masculinity is more likely to be assessed in terms of status and power than in terms of physical attractiveness  Weight has gained importance since the 1960s  The cult of thinness has spawned major industries including diet and self-help, cosmetic surgery, diet foods and fitness  Standards of breast size pose a special problem; larger breasts have been popular since the 1960s  Body image is associated with self-esteem and behaviour  May result in anorexia nervosa or bulimia  There are cultural variations in standards of beauty (Example: black women are more likely to be above recommended body weight) MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: 1) SEXUAL ASSAULT - Perpetrators are typically male, known to the victim and in a position of authority over the victim - Victims are selected less because of sexual desirability than because of their availability and powerlessness - Men are the victims of violence too and are more likely to be assaulted by men - Women are more likely to use violence as a response to their own powerlessness, attacking partners out of self-defence or lashing out at their children following abuse - Men are likely to use force to retain control and power - The most severe form of sexual assault involves rape - Rapists learn not to empathize with women and want to dominate them - Rates of rape are highest in war situations when many conquering male soldiers feel justified in wanting to humiliate the vanquished who are powerless to stop them - Rape involves using sex to establish dominance 2) SEXUAL HARASSMENT - Two types:  QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT = takes place when sexual threats or bribery are made a condition of employment decisions  HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT = involves sexual jokes, comments, and touching that interferes with work or creates an unfriendly work setting - Women are more likely to be harassed - Large power imbalances between men and women and a culture that supports patriarchy are associated with high rates of sexual assault and harassment SEXUAL PLURALISM:  Assesses sexual acts only by their meaning for the participants  More accept that sexuality does not have to be expressed in traditionally feminine or masculine ways  Recognize that there will always be a need to regulate sexual behaviour  Do not automatically condemn a sexual practice because it is homosexual or heterosexual  Heterosexuality is not inherently about men dominating women any more than it is inherently about strict adherence to traditional masculine and feminine sexual scripts  May involve the perpetuation of harmful relations of domination or it may not  Fosters a view of sexuality as something more than a form of victimization because of unequal power relations  Encourages people to see sexuality positively, as a means of achieving greater pleasure, freedom of expression and self-realization CHAPTER 5: THE MASS MEDIA: INTRODUCTION:  Hours spent watching television have been declining while hours spent listening to the radio have remained stable  We spend more time interacting with the media than doing anything else  Media is a means for connecting two or more points  Associated with communication = unifying by establishing shared meanings and understandings between groups and individuals and occurs through the transmission of information, knowledge or beliefs  Mass media = communication flows are unidirectional, going from a transmission point to an audience  Interactive media = communication flows back and forth as people interact in the transmission and reception of communication  Critical theorists argue that social values, interests and conflicts shape the technological development, use and impact of the media THE TECHNOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:  Derives primarily from H. Innis and M. McLuhan  Innis distinguished TIME-BIASED MEDIA and SPACE-BIASED MEDIA  Time-biased: - modes of communication that endure over time but are relatively immobile across space such as writing on stone or clay tablets - are conducive to a strong sense of tradition and custom which promote religious forms of power and belief  Spaced-biased: - cover much greater space but are less durable over time - assist territorial expansion, empire building and secular forms of power and culture - create different types of social division and conflict - the elite that controls the means of communication tries to use it to preserve its own privilege and interests - those excluded struggle against elite control and stimulate the development of new, alternative forms of communication  These two types foster different arrangements of institutions and cultural values  McLuhan argued that the relationship between communication and institutions and culture (Example: the invention of printing undermined oral communication and ushered in a more visually oriented culture and fosters individualism, privacy, rationality and social differentiation)  The spread of electronic media marked the end of the era of print dominance  The impact of TV is crucial because: - It does not rely on one sense - Allows communication to be instantaneous, creating a global village - McLuhan tended to see media technologies as an autonomous force that operates outside social and human control THE CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE:  Institutions and processes cannot be understood from the viewpoint of society as a whole, but only from that of unequal and conflicting groups and classes  Has two variants: - One emphasizes the relationship between media and inequality  Derives from orthodox Marxism  The role of the media is defined in terms of how the media serve the economic interests and political power of those who own and control the means of material production  The dominant class exercises control over the production of ideas, beliefs, values and norms that constitute a society’s dominant ideology  Developed by M. Horkheimer and T. Adorno who saw the mass media as part of a boarder culture industry that functions to create mass deception about the exploitative and oppressive character of capitalist society  The role of mass media is to distract and pacify people by feeding them standardized images and messages that stifle the capacity for independent, critical thought ; the propaganda model by filtering information  Herman and Chomsky identify 5 main filters: 1. The media’s orientation to profit making 2. Their dependence on advertising for revenue and profit 3. Their reliance on powerful institutions and individuals as sources of information 4. Negative reaction 5. Their adherence to anticommunism as an overarching belief system - Emphasizes the relationship between media and social conflict  The capitalist class and other powerful groups use dominant ideology to reinforce their position and maintain status quo through the establishment of hegemony (the use of media and cultural institutions to represent their interests, values and understandings as natural and universal)  Inequality can spawn resistance and struggle which create perspectives that allow one to interpret and criticize social reality and the dominant ideology  Open to the challenge of competing interpretations  Hegemony has to be flexible to accommodate and incorporate a range of different viewpoints POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE MEDIA:  Social and cultural roles of the media depend on their role as agents of political and economic interests  To analyze the relationship empirically is that of political economy  Political economy focuses on the ownership and control of economic resources and the effect of technology and economic power on cultural values, social structure and political decision making  Media are controlled and owned by large corporation that function like bureaucracies and sustain themselves economically though commercial revenue, government funding, subscriber fees and donations, or mixture of these  Ownership and control is becoming more concentrated in a smaller number of giant corporate hands due to economic globalization and leads to multimedia chains (corporations that own a diversified array of media operations and outlets in different fields) ; mainly US-based  To secure and enhance their market position, multimedia chains practise HORIZONTAL INTERGRATION (the sharing of facilities and resources between different plants and outlets) and VERTICAL INTERGRATION (the control of resources and assets at different stages of production  The development of digital technology has enhanced both horizontal and vertical integrations and has led to mergers  Critics argue that this reduces the range of voices and perspectives that the mass media represents  The focus of mainstream corporate media on profits impedes progressive social change by favouring the interests of the powerful NEWSPAPER: CONCENTRATION, MONOPOLY AND ADVERTISING:  Ownership and control of daily newspapers has undergone rapid change si
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