This OpenStax book is available for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6 The terms sex and gender refer to two different identifiers. Sex denotes biological characteristics differentiating males and females, while gender denotes social and cultural characteristics of masculine and feminine behavior. Sex and gender are not always synchronous. Individuals who strongly identify with the opposing gender are considered transgender.
Children become aware of gender roles in their earliest years, and they come to understand and perform these roles through socialization, which occurs through four major agents: family, education, peer groups, and mass media. Socialization into narrowly prescribed gender roles results in the stratification of males and females. Each sociological perspective offers a valuable view for understanding how and why gender inequality occurs in our society.
When studying sex and sexuality, sociologists focus their attention on sexual attitudes and practices, not on physiology or anatomy. Norms regarding gender and sexuality vary across cultures. In general, the United States tends to be fairly conservative in its sexual attitudes. As a result, homosexuals continue to face opposition and discrimination in most major social institutions.
Section 12.1 Sex and Gender
Section 12.2 Gender
Gender and Socialization
Social Stratification and Inequality
Theoretical Perspectives on Gender
Section 12.3 Sex and Sexuality
Sexual Attitudes and Practices
Sexuality around the World
Sexuality in the United States
Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Sexuality