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Natalie Angier. Woman: An Intimate Geography. CH 14: Wolf Whistles & Hyena Smiles. Media imagery of young girls versus reality Commercials for girls toys (sweet) “first job of being a girl is to survive in a group of girls” Girls are aggressive

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natalie angier

Natalie Angier

Woman: An Intimate Geography

ch 14 wolf whistles hyena smiles
CH 14: Wolf Whistles & Hyena Smiles
  • Media imagery of young girls versus reality
  • Commercials for girls toys (sweet)
  • “first job of being a girl is to survive in a group of girls”
  • Girls are aggressive
  • Why describe girls in biological theory as “prosocial”; “verbal, interactive, attentive, amiable”??
turner s syndrome
Turner’s Syndrome
  • Genetic condition in which a female has only one X chromosome
  • The X thus comes from either the male or the female parent.
  • Girls/women with the X from their fathers are more genial than girls with the X from their mothers.
turner s cont
Turner’s (cont)
  • Scientists interpreting these data concluded that girls with the paternal X were more girl-like girls
  • those with the maternal X “boylike”
  • How does this follow?
  • Small N study (100)
  • Chromosomal abnormalities are difficult to study under most controlled circumstances
turners cont
Turners (cont)
  • Angier’s critique is the scientist’s application of social norms to their supposedly scientific research (see pg 262).
  • What about aggression in girls?
  • Male aggression is more obvious?
    • Commit most murders
    • Most muggings
    • Almost 100% of rapes
  • Violence – public health?
  • Degree of physical aggression?
  • Degree of social determination to ignore female aggression?
  • Aggression as a social negative.
hostess example
Hostess example
  • Guest arrives at home and is offered food or drink
  • Guest refuses
  • Polite interaction?
  • Hostess establishing control? Guest refusing to allow control?
  • Hostess being rejected?
  • Context is key
  • The hormone of aggression?
  • Women have testosterone but much less of it (btw/20-70 nanograms of circulating blood)
  • Production 50/50 adrenal glands and ovaries
  • Men: 400-700 nanograms is normal
  • Production in testes
high t women
High T Women ?
  • Women’s testosterone quotient on the upper end of the female range
  • More dedicated to career, sexually assertive, less interested in children
  • Little evidence for this
  • H: Because women have low levels of testosterone they are sensitive to small variations.
testosterone the myth
Testosterone the myth?
  • Existing theories of brain sexing:
  • Male brain – testosterone works in utero and then later is activated at puberty
  • Female brain – steady state – no exposure to T prenatally; women reach puberty when estrogen and progesterone begin female specific brain design
  • Angier thinks these arguments are limited.
alternative view
Alternative view
  • Testosterone may not be what matters during the prenatal imprinting
  • Some believe T that reaches the brain is converted to estrogen and only as estrogen does it impact the brain
  • Which means that estrogen is what counts for the sexing of the brain and thus, aggression
problems with hormones
Problems with Hormones?
  • Research on hormones is inconclusive at best.
  • Testosterone is presumed to be the hormone of aggression not because the scientific evidence is conclusive but because it seems like a reasonable hypothesis.
  • Hyenas and androstenedione (andro-steen-DIE-own)
  • Hormones don’t cause behavior (influence)
  • Behavior can influence hormones