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Sex Vs. Gender

Sex Vs. Gender

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Sex Vs. Gender

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  1. Sex Vs. Gender • Sex: Biological status of being male or female. • Used when you are referring to biologically based aspects. • E.g., physical changes of puberty • Gender: Social aspect of being male or female. • Used when referring to cultural or socially based aspects. • E.g., body image issues in females • Some characteristics thought to be sex differences eventually turn out to be gender differences • E.g., “Women are unsuited for physical labor”

  2. Females in Traditional Societies • Adolescent girls learn to run the household • Remain under the authority of adults, remain close to mothers, stay at home • Often, adults restrict girls’ sexuality • Restrict opportunities for exposure to boys • Female circumcision rituals– lessen likelihood women will have sex with multiple partners

  3. Rates of Female Circumcision

  4. Males in Traditional Societies • Manhood must be achieved (Gilmore, 1990), must prove one has potential to: • Provide (economically, for wife and children) • Requires perseverance, stamina • Protect family, group (learn to fight, use weapons) (requires courage, strength) • Procreate (prove one’s capability by gaining sexual experience before marriage) • Requires confidence, boldness leading to sexual opportunities

  5. Females in America, Historically • 18th & 19th Century: Females should avoid intellectual or physical work • (bad for their reproductive cycles, or too fragile) • Until mid 1900’s most girls were not told about menarche in advance • Physical appearance: Women have long had to live up to ideal images • E.g., corsets worn until 1920’s • Dieting, shaving legs began in 20’s, also

  6. Males in America, Historically • 17th and 18th centuries, roles of provider and protector more important than individual success (Rotundo, 1993) • 19th century, ‘self-made manhood’ • Males went to cities, became independent of families, importance of strong individual character • Strong work ethic, self-control, strong will • 20th century, ‘passionate manhood’ • Individualism, self-expression, self-enjoyment instead of self-control/self-denial

  7. Gender Intensification • Hypothesis that gender differences become more pronounced in adolescent years (Hill & Lynch). • Thought to be a result of social pressures to conform to gender roles • Hill & Lynch believed pressures are stronger for girls (e.g., physical appearance so important) • Research has shown support for gender intensification, but for both boys and girls. • Strength of it may be related to parental socialization practices (Crouter et al., 1995).

  8. Changing Cultural Beliefs

  9. Parental Gender Socialization • E.g.: Infant dress (e.g., colors) • Adults engage in gender specific activities when told an infant is a boy vs. girl • Subtle messages re emotion displays during childhood • More restrictions with girls than boys during adolescence

  10. Media and Gender • Magazines for adolescent girls (e.g, Seventeen, YM) • Emphasize appearance (fashion, weight loss, cosmetics) • Movies, TV: • Emphasis on obsession with sex and romance • Boys: emphasis on looking/being cool, hero is unaffected by anxiety, aggressive

  11. Masculine and Feminine Traits • Stereotypic masculine traits: self-reliant, independent, athletic, assertive, willing to take risks, dominant, competitive • Stereotypic feminine traits: yielding, sympathetic, understanding, warm, gentle, yielding. • In adolescence, “androgyny” (balance of both masculine and feminine traits) is associated with higher self-esteem and peer acceptance in girls, but for boys masculinity is optimal. WHY? • For boys, any femininity may be threatening, but for girls some masculinity is acceptable, because certain masculine traits are part of higher social status.