midterm review - final copy - Week 1 Key Concepts 1 social...

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Week 1Key Concepts1. social constructionism vs. essentialismnature vs. nurturetwo theories about how sex, gender, and sexuality are related(1) essentialist theory (nature): sex (male/female) is a biological given that determines gender (boy/girl) and (hetero)sexualitybabies born with vaginas are girls and will naturally become women and desire men; babies born with penises are boys and will naturally become men and desire womenthe universal “facts of life”there’s nothing to explain except why some people (homosexuals, transgenders, intersex) don’t fit infour major proponents:(1) American popular belief(2) religious belief(3) political ideologies(4) evolutionary biology(2) social construction theory (nurture): sex (maleness/femaleness) is a biological substrate that, by itself, determines nothingbiological sex is used by people as a building block of culturemost social scientists and historians hold this theoryevidence for social construction(1) biology – the brain is the most important sexual organ(2) primatology – the study of humans, apes, and monkeysbonobos share with us a partial divorce of sex from reproduction(3) history(4) anthropology
2. sex vs. gendersex: the biological substrate(1) chromosomes(2) hormones(3) external and internal reproductive organsgender: theculturalsystem of symbols associated with, not caused by, sex differenceousually assigned at birth on the basis of external genitalsonot dichotomousour culture only recognizes two, but other cultures don’tamong Plains Indians, a person could attain gender reassignment through a vision at the beginning of puberty and become a “two spirit”3. gender dysphoriawhen one’s gender identity does not agree with his or her assignmentcan be expressed in transvestism or transsexualism4. transvestismwearing the clothing of the opposite gender5. transsexualismgender reassignment possible through hormone treatment and surgerysex (reproductive function) cannot be changed, but gender can be6. intersexed
formally called hermaphroditesabout 1 in 1000 babies are intersexedcreates a crisis for doctors and familiesgender is assigned (attribution) and surgery alters the body to resemble the biological sex of that gender7. sexualitysymbols in any form (actions, fantasies, artwork, games, music, ads) that are associated with and are supposed to lead, in any given culture, to genital arousalall symbols, including sexual symbols, are location-specificone must always take the context and audience into account8. sexual orientationenduring desires that affect a person’s fundamental identityheterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, sadomasochist, fetishist, etc.ReadingsSex as an Alternative to Aggression in the Bonoboby Frans de Waal - sexual sequences are used for purposes other than reproduction- he observed the extended sexual receptivity of the female bonobos- variable mounting positions including genital-genital rubbing and “kissing”

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