Introduction sex gender and sexuality
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Introduction: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. SO 4403/6403. Sex. Refers to the biological differences between males and females : Based on primary sexual characteristics (genitalia) and chromosomes Can be ambiguous

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Introduction: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

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Introduction sex gender and sexuality

Introduction: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

SO 4403/6403


Introduction sex gender and sexuality

Sex

  • Refers to the biological differences between males and females:

    • Based on primary sexual characteristics (genitalia) and chromosomes

    • Can be ambiguous

    • We usually rely on secondary sexual characteristics to help us identify individuals – what happens when we can’t figure it out?

    • We have a sex


Gender

Gender

  • Refers to the behaviors, attitudes, and identities thought to be socially and culturally appropriate for women and for men.

    • Socialization from before birth

    • Held accountable for these norms in appearance, interactions

    • We do gender


Gender consists of

Gender consists of:

  • Gender identity: the gender that we consider ourselves to be. Our internalized sense of being masculine or feminine.

  • Gender of assignment: the gender category assigned to us by others. What others take us to be.

  • Gender performance: the particular enactment of gender that we “do” or perform within certain cultural settings. (E.g., emotional labor of flight attendants, Playboy Bunnies, male erotic dancers, men and women executives or professors)


Is gender the natural outcome of sex

Is Gender the Natural Outcome of Sex?

  • No, gender varies in important ways that reveal it is not automatically linked to sex:

    • Across cultures

    • Within cultures across time and place

    • Within individuals over the life course

  • Our genders are not a reflection of immutable sex differences; otherwise we would not see these variations


Sexuality

Sexuality

  • We often assume the following:

  • sex → gender → sexuality

    • female → feminine woman → heterosexual

    • male → masculine man → heterosexual

  • Conflating sex, gender, and sexuality is not only inaccurate, it is damaging

    • Posits anyone who is not heterosexual as unnatural, “doing gender” incorrectly, and punished accordingly


Sexuality consists of

Sexuality consists of:

  • Individual and social dimensions, just as in the case of gender

  • Cultural understandings and labels for sexual orientation.

  • Norms about who are appropriate sexual partners.

  • Norms about what are appropriate sexual desires and activities.

  • Norms about appropriate ages for onset of sexual behaviors.

  • Like gender, these norms vary across space, time, and over the life course


Sexual fluidity and societal clashes

Sexual Fluidity and Societal Clashes

  • Individuals who change their genders may run into problems of practical living, legal couples.

  • For example: If one partner in a heterosexual marriage changes his/her gender, are they now a gay couple? Are they legally married? Does it depend solely what state they live in?


Sexual diversity

Sexual Diversity

  • The variation in practice, identity, and sanctions demonstrates the social construction of sexuality

  • Homosexuality is a constant; what varies is how homosexuality is defined and treated

    • Ritual homosexual contact between men and boys

    • Defining “gay sex” as being penetrated, “straight sex” as being the penetrator, regardless of the sex of one’s partner

    • Pragmatic use of homosexuality among men to control birth rate

  • Which gender is the initiator or aggressor varies

  • Other variations: number of orgasms considered “typical;” kissing; time of day; indoors versus outdoors; daytime or nighttime


Sex gender and sexuality distinctive yet intertwined

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality:Distinctive yet Intertwined

  • Sex: Biologically-based and harder to change than gender (but changeable nonetheless e.g., hormonal fluctuations)

  • Gender: Socially constructed and changeable over time and place.

  • Sexuality: We know least about this, given the difficulty of doing research on sexuality in our culture. Much of what we know is related to reproductive health issues.


Invisibility

Invisibility

  • That which is considered normal and valuable is invisible (Caucasian, man, straight)

  • Less valued statuses are visible, and those who hold them are found to be lacking

    • Gay man, woman President, Black woman.


In conclusion

In Conclusion

  • The sociological relevance of gender and sexuality is not the fact that they exist, but that we as a society work so hard to maintain the gender system despite its flaws and evidence that it is not natural, inevitable, or even beneficial


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