SOC101Y1 TEXTBOOK NOTES (remember to review ppts)
Chapter 4 Gender and Sexuality
How do we define male and female?
Biological sex vs. attitudes and behaviors
Defining Male and Female: Sex and Gender
Summary of Biological Sex Differences during Typical Fetal Development
Variable Female Male
Chromosomal pattern XX XY
Gonadal Ovaries Testes
Hormonal More estrogens than More androgens than
androgens estrogens + MIH
Sex organs Uterus, fallopian tubes, Epididymis, vas deferens,
vagina, clitoris, labia seminal vesicles, prostate,
Sociological gender comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of being
Gender identity is identifying with a particular sex (biologically psychologically, and
Gender role is expectations of how male/female should act
Research shows that North American’s expectations of gender roles have changed somewhat
from 1960s. In 1960s-1970s, males were expected to act tough…as time went by, it became
less expected. Accountability structures (e.g. peers, family, church) sanction our ―abnormal‖
People are transgendered when their gender identity does not match their sex
assignment at birth. Transsexuals identify with the opposite sex from their assigned
sex, causing them to change their appearance (sex change).
From Eichler’s point of view, transgendered individuals are a ―problem‖ for people
because our society does not understand the intermediate sexes.
No one-to-one relationship exists between sex and gender
- refers to activities that intend ―to lead to erotic arousal and produce genital response
- sexual behavior is guided by a set of sexual scripts (tell us who we should find
attractive, when/where it’s appropriate to be aroused, what is permissible, and how to
behave sexually), which are linked to gender roles.
- The word homosexuality (same sex interests) appeared in 1860s and was thought as a
serious psychiatric disorder until 1974
- Heterosexuality = straight people
- Compulsory heterosexuality is assumption that people should only desire members of
Sexual Attitudes and Behavior
Men report more frequent intercourse than women (more women report abstention
than men) In Canada, men francophones are more likely than women and anglophones to
endorse the fun standard (sexual activity is acceptable as long as both partners want
Men are somewhat more concerned than women with sex
Women are somewhat more concerned than men with love
Sexual orientation refers to a way a person derives sexual pleasure, including whether
desirable partners are of the same or a different sex.
It is inaccurate to think about sexuality in terms of a strict dichotomy between heterosexuality
and homosexuality. It is more appropriate to conceptualize sexuality as comprising four
continua: Sexual attraction, Sexual desire, Sexual behavior, Sexual identity.
In 1975, 28% of Canadian adults think infidelity is ―almost always wrong‖ while 50% felt it
was ―always wrong‖. By 1995, these became 25% and 60% respectively. This change in
attitudes toward extramarital affairs is part of a more general tendency for people to have
fewer sexual partners.
1960s-1970s: promoted multiple sexual partners, HIV/AIDS not big problem yet
1980s: HIV/AIDS became widely known, so people became more cautious
Does Sex Determine Destiny?
Some analysts see gender as a reflection of naturally evolved dispositions
Essentialists 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. Then they interpret these differences as natural and
Has many variants, most of which originate in biology and psychology. The three most
popular variants: brain studies, sociobiology, and Freudian theory.
Male-female differences in brain structure sometimes said to account for their
differences in behavior and achievement
2 hemispheres: left hemisphere associated with language abilities, the right with
nonverbal perception ad visual and spatial skills
Right hemisphere becomes dominant in men (mathematical, artistic, musical, and
Left hemisphere becomes dominant in women (allows symmetrical use of
hemispheres, edge in feelings, intuition, language skills, and quick judgments)
From this line of reasoning, we can state that the gender division of labor is perfectly
natural, structured by our brains rather than by society
Over time, masculine and feminine behaviors became genetically encoded
Genetic factors trigger biochemical processes that further enhance sex differences
through varying levels of hormone production in women and men
David Buss Four adaptive strategies or ―universal features of our evolved selves‖ govern the
relations between the sexes and contribute to the preservation of the human species
o First, men want casual sex with women
o Second, men treat women’s bodies as men’s property
o Third, men beat or kill women who incite male sexual jealousy
o Fourth, women are greedy for money
Women have a bigger investment than a man in ensuring the survival of their
offspring. She produces <400 eggs in her reproductive years, while men release 200-
500 million sperm every time they ejaculate, which can be produced every 24-48 hrs.
Men compete for sexual access to women, therefore evolving competitive and
aggressive dispositions that include physical violence
Women look for men who can best help support the child after birth. Hence women’s
alleged greed for money in contemporary society
Believed that sexuality is the main human instinct. It motivates human behavior and
accounts for the development of distinct masculine and feminine gender roles.
A host of gender differences in personality and behavior follow from the anatomical
sex differences that children first observe around the age of three.
Young boy unconsciously develops a fantasy of sexually possessing his mother and
envies father but identifies with his father leading to strong masculine personality
Young girls develop sense of inferiority because of her ―penis envy‖ and resents
mother and develops an unconscious sexual desire for father
A 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 by essentialists is often deeply flawed.
4. Essentialists tend to generalize from the average, ignoring variations within gender
5. Essentialists exaggerate the degree to which gender differences are unchangeable.
6. Essentialists offer explanations for gender differences that ignore the role of power.
Main alternative to essentialism
Argues 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 and meaning. Social structure refers to the
way major institutions, such as families, the economy, and the political system are
organized. Social structures are patriarchal in that they reinforce inequalities between
women and men.
Stresses three main sociohistorical changes that led to the development of gender
1. Long distance warfare and conquest.
2. Plow agriculture
3. The separation of public and private spheres.
Constructing Gender through Socialization
Primary Socialization Parents encourage sons to engage in boisterous behavior and competitive play. They
tend to encourage their daughters to engage in cooperative play
Parents reinforce gender-specific behavior
Parents encourage their children to play with gender-stereotyped toys (action figure vs
In most schools, teachers assume boys will do better in science and math, girls in
Teachers praise boys more and give them more help than girls, thus reinforcing
gender stereotypes and resulting in less effective learning experience for girls
Boys tend to establish less intimate friendships than girls do. Moreover, boys’
friendships tend to be based on such activities as team sports, which focus on
independence, emotional control, and conquest
Girls tend to form less extensive friendship networks than boys do and focus on
sociability, popularity and attractiveness
Symbolic representation of gender
Creates and reinforces gender stereotypes
Begins when small children learn that only a kiss from Snow White’s Prince Charming
will save her from eternal sleep
Also in magazines, romance novels, ads, music, television, and the Internet
Its big business; the average romance reader spends $1200 a year on the genre
Gender Socialization and Sexuality
o In society, we receive little systemati