C HAPTER 13 – GENDER & S EXUALITY
G ENDER R OLES & STEREOTYPES
- By age two and a half children can correctly identify their own gender.
- Gender Role: a set of norms, or culturally defined expectation, that define how people
of one gender ought to behave.
- Stereotype: a rigid set of beliefs about a group of people that distinguishes them from
others and is applied to all members of that group.
- Heterosexuality is viewed as an important part of gender roles.
G ENDER SCHEMA T HEORY
- Agender schema is a set of ideas (about behaviours, personality, appearance, and so on)
that we associate with males and females.
- Causes us to dichotomize information based on information based on gender.
- Causes us to distort or fail to remember information that is stereotype-inconsistent.
THE T RADITIONAL SEXUAL SCRIPT
- Scripts are cognitive frameworks for how people are expected to behave in social
- Traditional Sexual Script (TSS) specifies how men and woman are expected to behave
in (heterosexual) sexual situations.
- The ways in which society conveys to the individual its norms or expectations for his or
- Gender roles themselves are universal – all societies have gender roles.
- Exact content of these roles varies according to culture, ethnicity and social class.
G ENDER R OLES & ETHNICITY
- Acculturation: the process of incorporating the beliefs and customs of a new culture.
The SouthAsian Communities
- Religion major focus.
- Hard work, education, and achievement are seen as important.
- Respect for traditional values (may include arranged marriages).
- Woman submissive to men.
- Boys given more privileges (dating, sexual experience prior to marriage).
- Men take lead in sexual situations.
- Woman shouldn’t question men (can’t complain about extramarital sexual activity).
The Chinese Community
- Largest visible minority group in Canada.
- Responsibility to family/community over self-fulfillment/individualism.
- Marriage highly valued.
- Men head of household wife submissive.
- Wife expected to be virgin at marriage.
- Education and achievement are highly valued.
English-Speaking Caribbean Communities
- Strong sense of family/community. - Man = provider. Woman = household/child duties.
- More restrictions on girls.
- Before contact with Europeans some peoples had relative egalitarian gender roles.
- Acculturation caused more of a male dominated society.
- Two thirds of the 200Aboriginal languages have a term that refers to a third gender
(LGBs & trans).
G ENDER DIFFERENCES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING
- Cross-culturally males are more aggressive than females
- Differences in verbal & non-verbal communication (women tend to disclose more).
- Contemporary ethic of good communication/openness/self-disclosure between men and
- Women are better than men at decoding non-verbal cues & discerning emotions.
G ENDER DIFFERENCES IN SEXUALITY
- At least once in their lives 92% of men & 58% of woman masturbated to orgasm
- Women begin at a later age then men.
ATTITUDES A BOUT CASUAL S EX
- Men considerably more approving.
- Out of 237 reasons for having sex male and female university students ranked the same
reasons as the top 25.
USE OF PORNOGRAPHY
- Men were considerably more likely than woman to report using porn.
AROUSAL TO EROTICA
- Most erotic material is produced for a male audience.
- Men are more aroused but the gender difference is not large.
- Penile Strain Gauge: flexible loop fit around the base of the penis used to measure
physiological sexual arousal.
- Photoplethysmograph (photometer): acrylic cylinder placed inside the vagina to
measure physiological sexual arousal.
- Problem with these devices is that they are intrusive and neither can be used for both
- Thermal Imaging: a remote camera is focused on the genitals to detect genital arousal
- Both genders respond most strongly (physiologically & in self-ratings) to erotic &
erotic romantic tapes (women more aroused then men).
- Both genders found the female-initiated & female-centered tape to be most arousing.
- Women were sometimes not aware of their own physiological arousal.
- Women & men are quite similar in their responses but women are sometimes unaware
of their physical arousal. - Low correlation between women’s self-reports and physiologic measures of arousal.
- Physiological sexual arousal is category specific only in men (straight men more
aroused by women).
- Straight women and lesbians show similar arousal to both male and female stimuli.
- Brain regions that “fire” (in the limbic system) are the same in both genders.
- Men show increased activation in the hypothalamus (important to the release of
O RGASM C ONSISTENCY
- Men are more consistent than woman at having an orgasm during sex.
SEX D RIVE
- Men, on average, have a stronger sex drive than women do.
- Men think about sex more and have more varied fantasies than women.
- Men desire more sexual partners and a greater frequency of intercourse.
W HY THE D IFFERENCES?
- Important to remember that these differences are in the average scores and there is
considerable variation between both genders.
A RE THED IFFERENCES B OGUS?
- Could be that people report what is expected of them, shaped by gender norms.
- In an experiment where participants were told a lie-detector would judge their responses
it was found that men’s and women’s reports of their number of sexual partners were
nearly identical (women’s were slightly higher).
- Does not mean that all differences are bogus but that some self-reports are
exaggerations of the truth.
- Because the woman’s genitals are not in plain view and their arousal response is less
obvious than a male’s, women are less likely to masturbate or be fully aware of their own
- Hormonal explanations rest on the finding that testosterone is related to sexual
- Females have lower levels of testosterone in their tissues (e.g. have about one 10 of the
level men have in their blood).
- Two problems with this logic: (1) it may be that women are more sensitive to
testosterone than the comparable cells in men, (2) hormonal studies were conducted on
animals – we must be cautious when making inferences to humans.
C ULTURAL FACTORS
- Our culture has traditionally placed tighter restrictions on women’s sexuality and
vestiges of these restrictions linger today.
- The sexual double standard gives woman less sexual freedom than men.
- People now approve of premarital intercourse for women about as much as they do for men.
- Casual sex is still considered less acceptable for women.
- Men’s estimates of their partner’s ideals were more similar to their estimates of what the
average woman would want than they were to the actual preferences stated by their
partner (and vice-versa for women).
- People use stereotypes to guide their understanding of their partner’s sexual preferences
(and possibly the way they make love) more than they use explicit or implicit information
provided by the partner.
O THER FACTORS
- Typically boy’s sexual experiences are with masturbation (learn they can produce their
own sexual pleasure).
- Girls typically have their earliest sexual experiences in opposite sex touching and
fondling (learn that their sexual pleasure is produced by a male).
B EYOND THE Y OUNG ADULTS
- Men: Teenagers (sexuality intensely genital focused) 30s (highly interested in sex but
not as urgently) 50s (satisfied by 2 orgasms/week, sex becomes more sensuous with a
greater emotional component).
- Women: 20s (orgasmic response is slow & inconsistent 30 (may only start to
masturbate by this age) Mid 30s (quicker & more intense sexual response, orgasms
- Men begin with an intense genitally focu