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Sex, Gender, and Society.  . Gender - Intro. Sex refers to biological differences, while gender refers to the cultural construction of male and female characteristics.

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Sex, Gender, and Society

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gender intro
Gender - Intro
  • Sex refers to biological differences, while gender refers to the cultural construction of male and female characteristics.
  • Sexualdimorphism refers to marked differences in male and female biology besides the primary and secondary sexual features (for example, the average difference in height and weight between men and women is an aspect of sexual dimorphism, but not the differences in genitalia and breasts).
  • How and why do males and females differ physically, in gender roles, and in personality.
  • How and why do sexual behavior and attitudes about sex vary from culture to culture?
gender more definitions
Gender - More Definitions
  • Genderroles are the tasks and activities that a culture assigns to the sexes.
  • Genderstereotypes are oversimplified but strongly held ideas of the characteristics of men and women.
  • Genderstratification describes an unequal distribution of rewards (socially valued resources, power, prestige, and personal freedom) between men and women, reflecting their different positions in social hierarchy.
gender roles
Gender Roles
  • Many societies divide work along sex lines.
  • Why are there near-universal patterns in these divisions?
    • Strength theory
    • Compatibility with childcare theory
    • Economy of effort theory
    • Expendability theory
    • Criticisms of above theories
    • Friedl article
contributions to subsistence
Contributions to Subsistence
  • Primary subsistence activities are the food-getting activities: gathering, hunting, fishing, herding, agriculture.
  • Secondary subsistence activities involve preparing or processing food for eating or storage.
  • Women’s and men’s contributions in varying societies:
    • Horticulture
    • Intensive agriculture
    • Hunting-gathering
political leadership and warfare
Political Leadership and Warfare
  • Men largely participate in politics (in 87% of the world’s societies, women never participate in politics).
    • Even in matrilineal societies, men usually have substantial political power.
  • Reasons for male dominance:
    • men’s role in warfare
      • strength requirement
      • dangerous and not interruptible
      • expendable
      • greater height advantage
      • more gregarious
      • patrilocal society
relative status of women
Relative Status of Women
  • Various definitions of status:
    • how much importance society confers on females versus males
    • how much power and authority men and women have relative to each other
    • what kinds of rights women and men possess
  • Why is there variation in degree of gender stratification?
    • contribution to primary subsistence activities
    • value and esteem of warfare
    • centralized political hierarchies
    • place of residence - patrilocal/matrilocal
  • Status of women in varying societies: agricultural, horticultural, hunting/gathering
personality differences
Personality Differences
  • Mead - No universal personality differences based on sex
    • girls are not more dependent than boys
    • girls are not more sociable than boys
    • girls are not more passive than boys
  • Recent research - Some consistent sex differences in behavior
    • most consistent = aggression, nurturance
      • however, evidence suggests that women initiate aggression about 43% of the time, men 57% of the time
    • possibly the result of differences in chores, parental treatment
  • All societies have rules governing “proper” conduct sexually.
  • There is variation in the degree of sexual activity permitted or encouraged before, during, and after marriage.
    • premarital sex
    • extramarital sex
    • sex in marriage
  • Societies vary markedly in their tolerance of non-heterosexual sexuality.
  • Reasons for restrictiveness
    • population pressure
    • social inequality
    • control of property
  • There is no single definition of marriage that is adequate to account for all of the diversity found in marriages cross-culturally.
  • Generally, marriage means a socially approved sexual and economic union, usually between a man and a woman. It is presumed to be more or less permanent and it subsumes reciprocal rights and obligations between the two spouses and between spouses and their future children.
    • “Sexual relations can occur without economic cooperation, and there can be a division of labor between men and women without sex. But marriage unites the economic and the sexual.” - G.P. Murdock
why is marriage universal
Why is marriage universal?
  • Gender division of labor
  • Prolonged infant dependency
  • Sexual competition
  • Postpartum needs of the woman
economic aspects of marriage
Economic aspects of marriage
  • Bride price
  • Bride service
  • Exchange of females
  • Gift exchange
  • Dowry
  • Indirect dowry
whom should you marry
Whom should you marry?
  • Incest taboo is a universal in cultures around the world.
  • Reasons for taboo:
    • childhood-familiarity theory
    • Freud’s psychoanalytic theory
    • family-disruption theory
    • cooperation theory
    • inbreeding theory
  • Endogamy and exogamy
  • Polygamy/monogamy, polygyny/polyandry, group marriage
  • Families - matrifocal, nuclear, extended

p. 355

  • Divorce is found in many different societies.
  • Marriages that are political alliances between groups are harder to break up than marriages that are more individual affairs.
  • Payments of bridewealth also discourage divorce.
  • Divorce is more common in matrilineal societies as well as societies in which postmarital residence is uxorilocal.
  • Divorce is harder in virilocal societies as the woman may be less inclined to leave her children who as members of their father’s lineage would need to stay with him.
divorce in the us
Divorce in the US
  • The US has one of the world’s highest divorce rates.
  • The US has a very large percentage of gainfully employed women.
  • Americans value independence.
patterns of marital residence
Patterns of Marital Residence
  • Patrilocal - Son stays and daughter leaves (67%)
  • Matrilocal - Daughter stays and son leaves (15%)
  • Bilocal - Either son or daughter leaves, live near parents (7%)
  • Avunculocal - Son and wife settle near mother’s brother (4%)
  • Neolocal - Son and daughter leave, live apart from family (5%)
variations in residence patterns
Variations in Residence Patterns
  • Neolocal Residence
    • money or commercial economy
    • interpersonal tensions (Margaret Mead)
  • Matrilocal versus Patrilocal Residence
    • patrilocal - males contribute more
    • matrilocal - females contribute more
    • warfare - external versus internal
  • Bilocal Residence
    • choice or necessity
    • societies that have lost population (disease epidemics)
kinship diagrams
Kinship Diagrams
  • How to read and create kinship diagrams
  • Standard in cultural anthropology
kinship rules of descent
Kinship - Rules of Descent
  • Rules of descent are those that connect individuals with particular sets of kin because of known or presumed common ancestry.
  • Patrilineal descent
    • most frequent
    • through men only

Model of patrilineal descent; E&E p. 368

Triangles are males, circles are females

kinship rules of descent1
Kinship - Rules of Descent
  • Matrilineal Descent
    • descent through women only
  • Ambilineal Descent
    • through men or women

Model of ambilineal descent; E&E p. 369

Triangles are males, circles females

kinship rules of descent2
Kinship - Rules of Descent
  • Bilateral Kinship
    • kindred - person’s bilateral set of relatives who may be called upon for some purpose
    • ego-centered group
  • Unilineal Descent
    • patrilineal/matrilineal
    • definitions (see web page): lineage, clan, phratries, moieties
    • functions of groups: marriage, economic, political, religious
  • Ambilineal Systems
kinship terminology
Kinship Terminology
  • Consanguineal kin (related by blood) and affinal kin (related by marriage)
  • Differences in nomenclature of relatives.
  • Examples from other cultures:
    • Eskimo/Inuit
    • Omaha
    • Crow
    • Iroquois
    • Sudanese
    • Hawaiian