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Chapter 13. Gender and Sexuality. Defining Some Terms. Sex: Whether you are biologically male or female Gender: All the psychological and social characteristics associated with being male or female; defined by one’s gender identity and learned gender roles

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Chapter 13

Gender and Sexuality


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Defining Some Terms

  • Sex: Whether you are biologically male or female

  • Gender: All the psychological and social characteristics associated with being male or female; defined by one’s gender identity and learned gender roles

  • Primary Sexual Characteristics: Sexual and internal reproductive organs

  • Secondary Sexual Characteristics: Features other than genitals and reproductive organs (breasts, facial hair, etc.) that appear at puberty

  • Menarche: Onset of menstruation; a woman’s first menstrual period


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Some More Terms to Know

  • Ovulation: Release of ova (eggs) from the ovaries

  • Menopause: End of monthly menstrual cycles; usually occurs in the late 40’s or early 50’s

  • Gonads: Sex glands; testes in males and ovaries in females

  • Estrogens: Female Hormones

  • Androgens: Male hormones

  • Testosterone: Male sex hormone (androgen) secreted mainly by the testes


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Dimensions of Sex

  • Genetic Sex: XX or XY chromosomes

  • Gonadal Sex: Ovaries or testes

  • Hormonal Sex: Predominance of androgens or estrogens

  • Genital Sex: Clitoris and vagina in females; penis and scrotum in males

  • Gender Identity: One’s subjective sense of being male or female


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Fig. 13.1 Cutaway view of internal and external male reproductive structures.


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Fig. 13.2 Cutaway view of internal and external female reproductive structures


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Prenatal Sexual Development

  • Androgen Insensitivity: Inherited disorder; male embryos fail to develop male genitals because of an unresponsiveness to testosterone

  • Intersexual Person: Ambiguous genital sexuality; having genitals that suggest both sexes

  • Androgenital Syndrome: Genetic abnormality; adrenals produce excess androgen, sometimes creating a female child with male genitals before birth

  • Biological Biasing Effect: Exposure to prenatal androgens and estrogens may influence the body, nervous system, and later behavior patterns


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Fig. 13.3 Prenatal development of the reproductive organs. Early development of ovaries or testes affects hormonal balance and alters sexual anatomy. (a) At first the sex organs are the same in the human female and male. (b) When androgens are absent, female structures begin to develop. (c) Male sex organs are produced when androgens are present.


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Gender Roles

  • Sometimes known as sex roles; favored pattern of behavior for males and females

    • E.g. girls are expected to be sensitive, and boys dominant

  • Gender Role Stereotypes: Oversimplified beliefs (stereotypes) about what men and women are really like

    • Gender roles appear to be learned

  • Instrumental Behaviors: Goal-directed behaviors

  • Expressive Behaviors: Expresses or communicates emotion or personal feelings


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Fig. 13.4 Recorded differences in various abilities that exist between women and men are based on averages. For example, if we were to record the number of men and women who have low, medium, or high scores on tests of language ability, we might obtain graphs like those shown. For other abilities men would have a higher average. However, such average differences are typically small. As a result, the overlap in female abilities and male abilities is very large (Breedlove, 1994).



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Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and Androgyny

  • BSRI: Created by Sandra Bem

    • Consists of 60 personal traits, 20 each for “masculine,” “feminine,” and “neutral”

  • Androgyny: Having both masculine and feminine traits in a single person

    • Androgynous individuals are more adaptable in our society

  • Rigid gender stereotypes can restrict behavior, especially males’


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Fig. 13.5 One study found that even the parents of 2-year-olds strongly encourage their toddlers to play with “sex-appropriate” toys. Parents’ nonverbal responses to toys were consistently more positive when a toy matched stereotypes for the child’s gender (Calder, Huston & O’Brien, 1989).


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Fig. 13.6 Another indication of the possible benefits of androgyny is found in a study of reactions to stress. When confronted with an onslaught of negative events, strongly masculine or feminine persons become more depressed than androgynous individuals do. (Adapted from Roos & Cohen, 1987.)


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Sexual Behavior and Arousal

  • Erogenous Zones: Areas of the body that produce pleasure and/or provoke erotic desires (genitals, breasts, etc.)

  • Sexual Scripts: Unspoken mental plans that guide our sexual behavior

  • Sex Drive: Strength of one’s motivation to engage in sexual behavior


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Sexual Behavior (cont.)

  • Castration: Surgical removal of the testes or ovaries

  • Sterilization: Surgery (vasectomy or tubal ligation) to make a man or woman infertile

  • Masturbation: Self-stimulation of the genitals that causes sexual pleasure or orgasm


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Fig. 13.7 These graphs show the frequency of sexual intercourse for American adults. To generalize, about one third of the people surveyed have sex twice a week or more, one third a few times a month, and one third a few times a year or not at all. The overall average is about once a week (Laumann et al., 1994).


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Fig. 13.8 Average frequency of sexual intercourse per week for adults in the United States. Average intervals for intercourse decline from once every 4 to 5 days in young adulthood, to once every 16 days in the sixties. Remember that averages such as these are lowered by the inclusion of people ho are abstinent or who do not have sexual partners (such as many widowed persons). However, the age declines noted here also show up for people who are married, ranging from an average rate of intercourse of twice a week for couples younger than 30 to once every 3 weeks for those older than 70. This suggests that the average frequency of intercourse does decline with advancing age (Smith, 1990).


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Fig. 13.9 Percentage of women and men who masturbate. (data from James & Janus, 1993).


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Sexual Orientation

  • Definition: Degree of emotional and erotic attraction to members of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes

  • Heterosexual: Romantically and erotically attracted to the opposite sex

  • Bisexual: Romantically and erotically attracted to both sexes

  • Homosexual: Romantically and erotically attracted to the same sex

  • Homophobia: Fear of homosexuality




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Human Sexual Response: Masters and Johnson’s Discoveries

  • Sexual response can be divided into four phases that occur in the following order:

    • Excitement: Initial signs of sexual arousal

    • Plateau: Physical arousal intensifies

    • Orgasm: Climax and release of sexual excitement

    • Resolution: Return to lower levels of sexual tension and arousal


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Human Sexual Response: Masters and Johnson’s Discoveries (cont.)

  • Ejaculation: Release of sperm and seminal fluid (semen) by the male at orgasm

  • Refractory Period: Short time period after orgasm when males are unable to orgasm again


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Atypical Sexual Behaviors

  • Paraphilias: Sexual deviations; tend to be compulsive or destructive preferences or behaviors

    • Pedophilia: Sex with children; child molesting

    • Exhibitionism: “Flashing” genitals to unwilling viewers


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More Atypical Sexual Behaviors

  • Sexual Sadism: Deriving sexual pleasure from inflicting pain

  • Sexual Masochism: Deriving sexual pleasure from receiving pain

  • Frotteurism: Sexually touching or rubbing against a nonconsenting person, usually in a public place like an elevator or subway


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Child Molestation

  • Most are males and married

  • Two-thirds are fathers

  • Most molestations rarely exceed fondling

  • Impact of molestation depends on how long the abuse lasts and whether genital sexual acts are involved


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Signs of Child Molestation

  • Child fears being seen nude (e.g., bathing), when these fears were previously absent

  • Child develops physical complaints like headaches, stomachaches, and other stress-related symptoms

  • Child becomes markedly emotional and irritable


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More Signs of Child Molestation

  • Child engages in hazardous risk taking, such as jumping from high places or riding a bicycle dangerously in traffic

  • Child reveals self-destructive or suicidal thoughts

  • Child shows a loss of self-esteem or self-worth


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Tactics of Child Molesters

  • Most act alone

  • Most assaults take place in abuser’s home

  • Many abusers gain access to the child through caretaking

  • Children are targeted first through bribes, gifts, and games

  • Abuser tries to lull child into participation through touch, talking about sex, and persuasion (May occur through email or chat rooms)

  • Abuser then uses force, anger, threats, and bribes to gain continued compliance


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Attitudes and the Crime of Rape

  • Double Standard: Applying different rules for judging the appropriateness of male and female sexual behaviors

  • Acquaintance (Date) Rape: Forced intercourse that occurs in the context of a date or other voluntary encounter

  • Forcible Rape: Sexual intercourse that is carried out against the victim’s will, usually under the threat of bodily violence

    • Rape is a crime of violence, brutality, and aggression

    • Men can also be subjected to rape


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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s)

  • A disease that is passed from one person to another by intimate physical contact; a venereal disease

  • Asymptomatic: Having a disease while lacking obvious symptoms of illness

    • Makes the disease harder to detect

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): Sexually transmitted virus that disables the immune system

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS): Caused by HIV and frequently fatal. The immune system is weakened, allowing other diseases and infections to invade the body

    • White Blood Cell count is often lowered dangerously


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STD: Risky Behaviors

  • Sharing drug needles and syringes

  • Anal sex, with or without a condom

  • Unprotected sex (without a condom) with an infected partner

  • Sex with someone you know, or do not know, who has several partners

  • Vaginal or oral sex with an intravenous drug user

  • Having many sex partners


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Fig. 13.12 Popular professional basketball start Earvin “Magic” Johnson stunned fans when he announced that he had tested positive for HIV. Johnson, who is heterosexual, emphasized that his infection is a warning that anyone who is sexually active can contact HIV if they don’t follow safe sex practices. Johnson further stressed that abstinence is the surest way to prevent AIDS. Johnson’s infection increased public awareness about AIDS. Unfortunately, though, it has resulted in little real change in risky behavior (Brown, et al., 1996).


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Safer Sex Practices

  • Not having sex

  • Not injecting drugs

  • Using a condom

  • Sex with one mutually faithful, uninfected partner

  • Not engaging in sex while intoxicated

  • Reducing the number of sex partners


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Sexual Desire and Arousal Disorders

  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire: Persistent, upsetting loss of sexual desire

    • Both aspects must be present

  • Sexual Aversion: Feelings of fear, anxiety or disgust about engaging in sex

  • Erectile Disorder: Inability to maintain an erection for lovemaking and intercourse; once known as impotence. Also known as erectile dysfunction

  • Psychogenic: Having psychological and not physical causes

  • Sensate Focus: Type of therapy that directs attention to natural sensations of pleasure and also builds communication skills


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Orgasmic and Sexual Pain Disorders

  • Female Orgasmic Disorder: Persistent inability to reach orgasm during lovemaking

    • The woman may reach orgasm during masturbation, however

  • Premature Ejaculation: Ejaculation that persistently occurs before the male and his partner want it to occur

    • Squeeze Technique: Method for inhibiting ejaculation by compressing the tip of the penis

  • Dyspareunia: Genital pain before, during, and after intercourse

    • Rare in males

  • Vaginismus: Condition where muscle spasms of the vagina making penetration by the penis difficult, painful, or impossible


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Sexual Satisfaction (McCarthy, 1995)

  • Elements necessary for a continuing healthy sexual relationship

    • Sexual anticipation

    • Valuing one’s sexuality

    • Feeling that you deserve sexual pleasure

    • Valuing intimacy


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Ways to Avoid Intimacy (Strong & DeVault, 1994)

  • Don’t talk about anything meaningful

  • Never show your feelings

  • Pretend everything is okay, even if you are upset or dissatisfied

  • Always win, never compromise

  • Always keep busy


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Ways to Avoid Intimacy (cont.)

  • Always be right

  • Never argue

  • Make your partner guess what you want

  • Always take care of your own needs first

  • Keep the television set on


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