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Chapter notes for NS: Gender and Sexuality (5th ed)

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

of 14
Chapter 4: Gender and Sexuality
oAccording to Dr. Money, age at which individuals become locked into their gender
closes at two years of age; a gender identity gate
oDavid Reimer was assigned a female gender Brenda Reimer—he was given
female hormones at puberty and given dresses to wear
However, David/Brenda acted like a boy and still wanted to do male things
1979: David decided to stop living as a girl
David/Brenda started taking male hormones at the age of 16
Committed suicide at the age of 38
oReveals that we are not defined as male or female based on biology alone
Defining Male and Female: Sex and Gender
oSex: distinct male or female genitalia and a genetic program that releases male
or female hormones to stimulate ones reproductive system
oAbout 1 in 400 children is born with an abnormal 46th chromosome (sex
determinant, XX being female, XY being male)
Caused by failure of sperm to divide properly
oGonads begin to develop in the sixth or seventh week of gestation
Differences noticeable in the 14th week after conception
oScientists agree on one sex difference in the brain: the hypothalamus in the
female brain is sensitive to estrogen and is responsible for creating menstrual
oGender is composed of feeling, attitudes, and behaviours associated with being
male or female
Belonging to a particular sex, psychologically, biologically, and socially is
known as gender identity
People adopt gender roles when they act according to widely shared
expectations about how males and females are supposed to act
Expectations on how men and women are supposed to act has
only changed somewhat over the last 40 years
oEx. Boys in the 1960s-1970s were expected to hide their
emotions. Today it is true to a lesser extent, but boys still
learn that crying in public is associated with being a sissy.
oThere are pressures on individuals who dont conform to gender roles. The
following highlight that biology alone does not define males or females.
Transgendered people are individuals who want to alter their gender by
changing their appearance or resorting to medical intervention.
1 in every 5000 to 10000 Canadians are transgendered
Transsexuals are people who believe they were born in the wrong body;
they identify with the opposite sex and often go through procedures (i.e. to
have a sex-change operation).
1 in 30000 Canadians
WHO classifies transgendered individuals as suffering a psychiatric
Margarit Eichler points out that if masculinity and femininity were
less rigid, gender identity issues would not be seen as a problem
and sex-change operations would not be needed.
Transgendered individuals are only seen as a problem because
people dont recognize intermediate sexes.
Evidence suggests gender reassignment tends to be successful before
the age of 18 months
Box 4.1: The Third Way: Refusing to Gender Identify
Matt Lundie was born Fiona
oDoesnt want to be a woman or a man but will begin taking
male hormones and undergo a mastectomy (removal of
boobs) but not genital reassignment
oBelieves people shouldnt have to live based on their
biological sex
oSexuality refers to activities that are intended to lead to erotic arousal and
produce a genital response.
Assumed to be heterosexual for a long time
Term was coined 30 years after homosexuality appeared in the
oHomosexuality was considered a serious disorder from the
mid-19th century to 1974
oMany people still assume individuals should only desire
those of the opposite sex. This assumption is called
compulsory heterosexuality.
Negative effects for lesbians and gays
Denial of civil rights (Ex. Marriage)
Abuse (Gay-bashing)
Negative effects for all women according to some
Heterosexuality is based on unequal
economic, political, legal, and social
relations between men and women
oSome feminists suggest rejecting
heterosexuality altogether as the
relationships are based on
Adrienne Rich defines it as the ideologically and
materially enforced insistence that women see
themselves entirely as the complements of men
and live under male control or risk sever sanctions
ranging from social stigma to death.