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Chapter 4

New Society Chapter 4 Notes

5 pages30 viewsFall 2008

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC101Y1
Professor
Sheldon Ungar
Chapter
4

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Chapter 4: Gender and Sexuality
David/Brenda case study: Dr. Money believed he could completely reassign male/female identities to young
children
Dr. Money urged David’s parents to bring him up as a girl, giving him girl clothing, toys, regular doses
of estrogen; claimed that his experiment “nurture over naturewas a success
Failed to report David’s resistance to being a girl; insisted on being/doingguy” things, refused to
continue with vaginal surgery and was relieved to finally find out that he was a guy all along
David was ostracized for not acting like a girl after sex reassignment
-Biological Sex: determined by X and Y chromosomes (XX for female); chromosomes dictate the formation of
sexual organs with corresponding hormones
-Sociological Gender: feelings, attitudes and behaviors associated with being male/female
Gender identity: identification with a particular sex, (biologically, socially, psychologically)
Gender role: behaving according to expectations of how males/females are suppose to act
oExpectations have not changed drastically; boys still learn that crying is a not a very guy thing
to do so they learn to hide their feelings to fulfill gender roles
oIndividuals who do not conform to gender expectations are often not treated very well
-Transgendered people: individuals who want to alter their gender by changing their body/appearance; defy
conventional gender norms
-Transsexual people: individuals who feel like they have been born into the wrong body; they identify with
and want to live as a person of the opposite sex
-society’s rigid definition of male and female does not recognize/validate intermediate sexes and classifies
people like that as beingsick”
-gender roles are entirely natural; does not always agree with biological sex orientation
-Sexuality = activities that lead to erotic arousal
-sexual scripts dictate to us what we should find attractive or not etc…; linked to gender roles
-Compulsory heterosexuality: assumption that individuals should only desire members of opposite sex
oLeads to discrimination of gay and lesbians
oPuts women at a disadvantage b/c heterosexuality based on inequality between men and women
oInsists upon the idea that women are simply complementary to men, living under male control
oHeterosexuality is institutionalized in marriages and families
oFeminists view heterosexuality relationship as based on inequality, so should reject it completely
-Bryms view: System of male domination takes part in establishing the assumption that one should only
desire another of the opposite sex
Sexual attitudes and behaviors:
deviations from traditional sex script occurring; diversity in sexual behaviors and attitudes (eg. acceptance
of premarital sex by Canadians, unmarried couples living together)
Pattern is seen in younger people as well as older ones
Men are usually more willing to engage in non-conventional sexual activities
-Statistics for males show more frequent intercourse; reflects their tendency to exaggerate
-men more concerned with sexual intercourse; women more concerned about “love” for their partner
Canadians more tolerant about same sex marriage and homosexuality
Canadian law recognizes same sex marriages (no distinction between heterosexual marriages and
homosexual ones eg. civil union)
Religious organizations are not obliged to marry same sex couples
-estimating prevalence of homosexuality varies depending on how you measure it; asking people to identify
themselves as being homosexual or not usually yields lower numbers than asking them in terms of sexual
orientation (how a person derives sexual pleasure eg. who they find attractive/desirable)
-cannot simply split into two separate groups (homosexual or heterosexual)
Sexuality = sexual attraction, desire, behaviour, identity
-Religions and their positions on sexual issues: table 4.3 page 87
attitudes on extramarital affairs have a more conservative standing among Canadians
Increasing intolerance for affairs (5060% always wrong)
-attitude is a result of people wanting/having fewer partners
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Spread of sexually transmitted diseases
-attitudes towards sex and sexual conduct vary widely over time and places; should not think of sexuality as
natural or “fixed
Essentialism:
-see gender as naturally evolved dispositions; view the differences between male and female in sexual
scripts, division of labour at home & workplace etc…as natural and universal
Nature is the ultimate force shaping men and women
Brain studies: differences in brain structures account for the differences in behavior & achievement
Left hemisphere of brain = languages; right hemisphere = nonverbal perception, visual, spatial skills
Males: right brain dominant b/c left is washed over by testosterone as fetus; inhibits growth of it and
allows males to excel in math, art, music
oJobs that require logic and visual-spatial manipulation dominated by men (eg. pilots,
mechanics, scientists)
Females: left brain is bigger, able to use both brains equally well; have better intuition, language
skills, judgement, feelings
oJobs that require empathy, intuition, language skills (eg. teachers, social workers, mothers)
Sociobiology: E.O. Wilson leading exponent
-masculine and feminine behaviors became genetically coded due to the different reproduction systems and
wanting to maximize the passing on of genes
Different reproductive status of men and women different adaptive problems and strategies
Humans with most “masculineand “feminine” traits were selected for, hence the differences today
Genetic factors also trigger biochemical processes (varying hormone levels) to enhance differences
David Buss: proposal of 4 adaptive strategies that govern behavior of the sexes
Men want casual sex with women (women invest more into offspring)
Men treat women’s bodies as their property
Men beat/kill women who incite male sexual jealously
Women are greedy for money (so they can support the child after birth)
-noticeable trends in how men & women pick mates, but does not prove genetic basis for behavior
Freud: sexuality is main human instinct, motivating human behavior and accounting for the distinct male
and female gender roles
Little boys want their mother, but know they cannot so they identify with their father and develops a
strong masculine personality
Young girls feel inferior for having no penis, hates mother for “cutting it off” but identifies with her
anyways; transforms her want for penis into a need to have children
Females remain immature and dependent on men b/c of not being able to ever have a penis; need
men to induce a sexually satisfying orgasm
-anatomical sex differences observed by children give rise to gender roles
Critique of Essentialism:
-Ignores the historical & cultural variability of gender and sexuality
Men are socialized to be nurturing and sensitive;
Societies & culture change rapidly; does not coincide w/ genetic changes (eg. women in labour force)
-Ignore the fact that gender differences are becoming less pronounced
There are few gender differences, and even in those (usually small), the gap is closing rapidly
Eg. women becoming more assertive, independent, competitive, taking of non traditional jobs,
performing better on standardized tests
-Evidence used to prove their points are FLAWED
Eg. checking for genetic markers in homosexual brothers; did not check in heterosexual brothers
-Ignore variations within gender groups, generalizing from the average
Saying that men are inherently more aggressive, which assumes that all men are MORE aggressive
than women; not always the case
-Exaggerate/imply that gender differences are unchangeable when in fact, gender differences depend on the
social condition
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