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134lecture12(feb07)bw - Sex vs gender Social Construction...

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1 © 2005 David Schweingruber Social Construction of Sex/ Socialization Feb. 7, 2005 http://www.iastate.edu/~soc.134 © 2005 David Schweingruber Sex vs. gender Sex: biological maleness or femaleness Gender: psychological, social, and cultural aspects of maleness and femaleness The two sexes are assumed to be Universal (found in all cultures throughout history) Exhaustive (there’s no third sex) Mutually exclusive (a person can’t be both) Recently, sociologists have been questioning the taken-for-grantedness of the categories “man” and “woman” Do the two sexes belong to the physical world or the world of meaning? Two important pieces of evidence: Cross-cultural variation Existence of intersexuals (and our reaction to them) © 2005 David Schweingruber Social construction of sex Our belief in two sexes is not universal (pp. 112-114) A brief history of the sexes in Western culture Pre-18th Century: One sex (females are inferior version) 18th Century: two sexes
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