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Chapter 9 Sex, Gender and Sexuality Chapter Outline Sexual Differentiation Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Inequality Gender as Social Construction and Social Structure Differences in Life Chances by Sex Gender and Power The Sociology of Sexuality Where this Leaves Us Sexual Differentiation Sex v.s. Gender Sex is a biological characteristic: male or female Gender refers to the expected behaviors and dispositions that cultures assign to each sex. Gender roles refer to the rights and obligations that are normative for men and women in a particular culture. ◦ Although biology provides two distinct and universal sexes, cultures provide almost infinitely varied gender roles. Sexual Differentiation Gender Roles Across Cultures Gender roles vary widely across cultures Some similarities exist - in almost all cultures: ◦ Men tend to have more power. ◦ Almost universal preference for male children. Power difference produces widespread violence against women: ◦ “Violence and discrimination against women are global social epidemics” (Human Rights Watch, 2004) Sexual Differentiation Gender Roles Across Cultures Violence Toward Women: Each year, about 1.5 million American women are raped or physically assaulted by intimate partners. Between 100 and 140 million women, mostly in African countries but also in Asia, South America, and Europe, have undergone genital mutilation. In Afghanistan, Islamic fundamentalists have thrown acid onto the faces of girls who dare to go to school, disfiguring and sometimes blinding them. Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Inequality Structural-Functional Theory: Division of Labor A gendered division of labor is functional because specialization will: 1. Increase the expertise of each sex in its own tasks. 2. Segmented labor market - prevent competition between men and women that might damage the family. 3. Strengthen family bonds by forcing men and women to depend on each other. Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Inequality Conflict Theory: Sexism and Discrimination According to conflict theorists, women‟s disadvantage benefit men and the capitalist class. Sexism is the belief that women and men have biologically different capacities that form a legitimate basis for unequal treatment. ◦ Sexism as an ideology is part of a general strategy of stratification. Discrimination is the natural result of sexism. Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Inequality Symbolic Interactionism: Gender Inequality Study of preschoolers found that: ◦ Teachers structure children‟s play and impose discipline that reinforce gender differences. ◦ Boys are actively discouraged from playing “dress-up” and girls are actively discouraged from running, crawling, and lying on the floor. Study of sleep away camp found that: ◦ high-ranking athletic boys led other boys in teasing, assaulting, or excluding any boys they deemed too “feminine” and any girls they deemed too “masculine.” Gender as Social Construction and Social Structure Developing Gendered Identities Despite many changes in gender roles in the United States, boys and girls still tend to experience large doses of traditional gender socialization. When parents do not exhibit gender-stereotypic behavior and do not punish their children for cross-gender behavior, their children are less rigid in their gender stereotypes Gender as Social Construction and Social Structure Reinforcing Biological Differences The belief that males and females are biologically difference is a self-fulfilling prophecy that helps maintain males and females as biologically different. Belief in the naturalness of biological difference is reinforced through everyday interaction and what we see. ◦ Medicine – doctors prescribe hormones to limit female growth or increase male growth. Plastic surgery reinforces the idea of what is male and what is female. ◦ Sports – male (football) and female (cheerleaders); athletic rules are different for men and women; performance evaluations are different for men than women. Gender as Social Construction and Social Structure “Doing Gender” Refers to everyday activities that individuals engage in to affirm their commitment to gender roles. ◦ Male nurses sometimes talk about their athletic interests or heterosexual conquests to keep others from questioning their masculinity. Compulsive Heterosexuality – consists of continually demonstrating one‟s masculinity and heterosexuality. Connections: Personal Application How are you doing gender right now? Are you sitting with your legs apart or crossed at the ankles? Are you wearing makeup? What color and kind of clothes are you wearing? If you are snacking, do you feel you should apologize or explain (even in your head) that you know that you need to lose weight? Gender as Social Construction and Social Structure Gender as Social Structure Gender is also a property of social structure of society. Institutionalized differentiation: ◦ workplaces with no daycare; no paternity leave for fathers ◦ power tools, executive chairs, sports equipment sized to fit the average man ◦ the subtle ridicule of men who do housework ◦ differences in pay for men and women Differences in Life Changes by Sex Health Gender disadvantages work both ways in the US: Life expectancy for men = 76.4 yrs; women = 81.4 yrs (probability estimate for birth year 2015) Young men 2X more likely to die in auto accidents than women; 6X more likely to be killed by guns. Men more vulnerable to stress-related disease Men are 4X more likely to commit suicide Differences in Life Changes by Sex Education Men and women are equally represented among graduates of high school, Bachelor‟s and Master‟s degrees. Differences in representation occur at Ph.D. level and advanced professional degrees Differences in type of education occur from 5th grade up: Boys tend toward science and math; girls tend toward language and literature. Studies show that these differences are largely socially constructed and structurally reinforced. Percentage of Bachelor’s Degrees Earned by Women by Field in 1971 and 2007 Field of Study 1971 2007 Business 9 49 Computer and Information Sciences 14 19 Education 75 79 Engineering 1 18 Health Sciences 77 86 Home Economics Education 97 99 Library and Archival Sciences 92 88 Pre-Law 6 58 Mathematics 38 44 Social sciences and history 37 50 Differences in Life Changes by Sex Work and Income Among Americans age 25 – 34, 92% of men compared with 75% of women are in the labor force. Gap continues to shrink. Despite growing equality in work force involvement, major inequalities in pay ratios persist. Labor-Force Participation Rates of Men and Women 16 and Over Differences in Life Changes by Sex Work and Income Different Occupations, Different Earnings: 1. Gendered Occupations - Lower paying jobs tend to be “women‟s work”. 2. Different qualifications - Women are less likely to have as much experience or education as men. 3. Discrimination works against women‟s options in the world of work. Differences in Occupation by Sex, 2004 Differences in Life Changes by Sex Work and Income Same Occupation, Different Earnings: 1. Different titles – „janitor‟ and „assistant executive‟ (male titles) earn more than „maid‟ and „executive assistant‟ (female titles). 2. Discrimination – even women with same titles earn less than men. ◦ Ex: male lawyers earn more than female lawyers; are hired more by large firms to specialize in „prestigious‟ areas of law). ◦ Glass Ceiling – an invisible barrier to women’s promotions ◦ Glass Escalator - an invisible advantage that rapidly moves men into administrative positions and prestigious specialties Sex Differences in Representation and Median Weekly Earnings by Occupation* Occupation Male Female % women Income Income workers Chief executives $1903 $1603 24 Lawyers 1751 1509 38 Computer programmers 1261 1003 22 Elementary / middle school 994 871 81 teachers Retail salespersons 623 440 43 * Full time, year-round workers only Gender and Power Unequal Power in Social Institutions Women‟s subordinate position is built into most social institutions. In colleges, women‟s basketball coaches are paid less than men‟s basketball coaches. In politics, prejudice against women leaders remains strong, and women still comprise only a minority of major elected officials in the United States and around the world. Gender and Power Unequal Power in Interaction Studies of informal conversations show that men regularly dominate women in verbal interaction. Men take up more of the speaking time, they interrupt women more often, and most important, they interrupt more successfully. Women are more placating and less assertive in conversation than men, and women are more likely to state their opinions as questions. Gender and Power A Case Study: Sexual Harassment Consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Although estimates vary depending on the definition and sample used, as many as half of all working women probably experience sexual harassment during their lifetime. Two types: ◦ expectation of sexual favor in exchange for something else (keeping your job, better grades, etc) ◦ hostile sexual climate makes it impossible to do your job (pornographic materials displayed, sexual jokes, etc) Gender and Power Fighting Back Against Sexism The Feminist Movement has united women in the fight against sexual harassment, woman battering, job discrimination and other equal rights issues. First Wave – mid-nineteenth century. Issues: right to own property, right to vote, right to education, right to enter into contracts. Nineteenth Amendment 1920. Second Wave – „liberal feminist‟ issue was equal rights; „radical feminist‟ issue was violence – war protests, violence against women, rights of woman‟s own body. Third Wave – focus on different effects of inequality among different groups of women. Gender and Power Connections: Social Policy Title IX of the federal Educational Amendments of 1972 is a product of liberal feminist activism. It prohibits sex discrimination in any educational institution or activity that receives federal funding. Title IX has led to a dramatic rise in women‟s educational attainment and their athletic participation. The U.S. Women‟s Soccer Team, which won the 1991 and 1999 World Cups, would not have achieved this success without Title IX. The Sociology of Sexuality Sexual Scripts Sexual scripts are cultural expectations regarding who, where, when, why, how, and with whom one should have sex. There is variation between the sexual scripts of different cultures; and there is some variation in sexual scripts within a culture. We are exposed to sexual scripts from multiple sources: parents, teachers, friends, religious leaders, mass media Sexual scripts we adopt often change over time. The Sociology of Sexuality Premarital Sexuality Premarital intercourse has become increasingly accepted over the last few decades. The proportion of never-married teenagers who say they have had sexual intercourse increased from 40% in the 1950s to 50% for girls and 60% for boys by the late 1980s. Since then, rates of sexual intercourse among teens have declined to about 46% among both boys and girls. The Sociology of Sexuality Premarital Sexuality Explaining the Decline in Sex Among Teens Research consistently finds no credible evidence that abstinence-only sex education programs work except in the very short term. The drop in teenage sexual activity more likely reflects the growing awareness of the threats posed by AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The percentage of teenagers who report using condoms the last time they had intercourse has increased steadily since 1988. The Sociology of Sexuality Marital Sexuality Sexual scripts followed by married couples have changed little over time in some ways… ◦ Most couples find that the frequency of intercourse declines with the length of the marriage. ◦ The decline appears to occur regardless of the couple‟s age, education, or situation. Sexual scripts followed by married couples have changed in recent years in many ways… ◦ Oral sex has become more common. ◦ Women and men are equally likely to have extramarital affairs. The Sociology of Sexuality Sexual Minorities Homosexuality in Society: Homosexuals are people who prefer sexual and romantic relationships with members of their own sex. Somewhere between 2 - 6% of Americans admit recent homosexual activity or describe themselves as homosexual. Rates are about 2X as high among men as women. Gallup Poll 2008: 55% of surveyed Americans said that homosexual activity between consenting adults should be legal. The Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement… Increasing acceptance of homosexuality is a direct result of the gay and lesbian rights movement. Movement evolved out of civil rights and feminist activism in late 1960s and early 1970s. Stonewall Riots were sign of change – patrons fought back when police raided a New York City gay bar. Police retaliation only increased numbers of rioting gays and lesbians – over 2000 people involved over a few days. Riot gave birth to the modern gay rights movement. Identification of AIDS in 1981 and epidemic spread had heterosexuals realizing how many friends, relatives, coworkers and neighbors were affected. Today 21 states and DC outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Sociology of Sexuality Sexual Minorities Transgender in Society: Transgendered persons are individuals whose sex or sexual identity is not definitively male or female. There are two types of transgendered people: – Intersex persons are individuals who are born with ambiguous genitalia, such as a small penis as well as ovaries. – Transsexuals are persons who psychologically feel they are trapped in the body of the wrong sex. Where This Leaves Us… Universal biological basis for sex differentiation, but variability also exists in the roles assigned to men and women. Structural functional explanation – division of labor between sexes builds strong families and reduces competition. Conflict explanation – male hegemony and capitalism benefit from sexism. Symbolic interactions explain how gender inequality is perpetuated. Socialization creates and maintains sex stratification. Gender is a property built into the social structure. Both men and women face disadvantages due to gender roles. Men and women are growing more similar in educational attainment and the percentage of their lives spent in the labor force. Women hold lower pay jobs; they are paid less for the same jobs. Position of US women has improved due to the feminist movement. Homosexuality is growing more accepted in the United States. Quick Quiz 1. Gender roles refer to: A. the rights and obligations that are normative for men and women in a particular culture. B. behaviors that can only be performed by one sex or the other (e.g. only females can bear children). C. biological differences between men and women. D. innate tendencies for males to be masculine and females to be feminine. Answer: A Gender roles refer to the rights and obligations that are normative for men and women in a particular culture. 2. Which of the following seems to be universally true across nearly all cultures? A. violence against women is not tolerated B. women prefer monogamy C. female children are more valued than male children D. women have less power than men Answer: D The following seems to be universally true across nearly all cultures: Women have less power than men. 3. Sam says that having a segmented labor market in which women work in some kinds of jobs and men work in other kinds of jobs is not really needed and that the inequality is the result of men wanting to have and maintain their powerful position over women. Sam is probably: 1. an anarchist. 2. a conflict theorist. 3. a structural functionalist. 4. a symbolic interactionist. Answer: B Sam is probably a conflict theorist. A labor market in which women work in some kinds of jobs and men work in other kinds of jobs is called a segmented labor market. Conflict theorists claim that it is not really needed and that the inequality is the result of men wanting to have and maintain their powerful position over women. 4. Jaimie was born with ovaries and a penis. Jaimie‟s parents decide to raise Jaime as gender neutrally as possible and to defer surgical alteration until their child has had time to develop. Jaimie has the characteristics of: A. a transexual. B. a homosexual. C. an intersex person. D. twins. Answer: C Jaime has ambiguous biological characteristics – both male and female. This is known as intersexuality.
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