12.1 Sex and Gender

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.

12.2 Gender

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.

12.3 Sex and Sexuality

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

  • sex: a term that denotes the presence of physical or physiological differences between males and females
  • gender: a term that refers to social or cultural distinctions of behaviors that are considered male or female
  • sexual orientation: a person s physical, mental, emotional, and sexual attraction to a particular sex (male or female)
  • heteronormative society: a society which assumes sexual orientation is biologically determined and unambiguous
  • heterosexism: an ideology and a set of institutional practices that privilege heterosexuals and heterosexuality over other sexual orientations
  • homophobia: an extreme or irrational aversion to homosexuals
  • DOMA: Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 U.S. law explicitly limiting the definition of  marriage to a union between one man and one woman and allowing each individual state to recognize or deny same-sex marriages performed in other states
  • gender role: society s concept of how men and women should behave
  • gender identity: a person s deeply held internal perception of his or her gender
  • transgender: an adjective that describes individuals who identify with the behaviors and characteristics that are other than their biological sex
  • transsexuals: transgender individuals who attempt to alter their bodies through medical interventions such as surgery and hormonal therapy
  • gender dysphoria: a condition listed in the DSM-5 in which people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with. This condition replaces "gender identity disorder"

Section 12.2  Gender

  • sexism: the prejudiced belief that one sex should be valued over another
  • doing gender: the performance of tasks based upon the gender assigned to us by society and, in turn, ourselves
  • social construction of sexuality: socially created definitions about the cultural appropriateness of sex-linked behavior which shape how people see and experience sexuality
  • biological determinism: the belief that men and women behave differently due to inherent sex differences related to their biology

Section 12.3  Sex and Sexuality

  • sexuality: a person s capacity for sexual feelings
  • double standard: the concept that prohibits premarital sexual intercourse for women but allows it for men
  • queer theory: an interdisciplinary approach to sexuality studies that identifies Western society s rigid splitting of gender into male and female roles and questions its appropriateness

Section 12.1 Sex and Gender

Sexual Orientation
Gender Roles
Gender Identity

Section 12.2 Gender

Gender and Socialization
 Social Stratification and Inequality
Theoretical Perspectives on Gender
 Structural Functionalism
 Conflict Theory
 Feminist Theory
 Symbolic Interactionism

Section 12.3 Sex and Sexuality

Sexual Attitudes and Practices
 Sexuality around the World
 Sexuality in the United States
 Sex Education
Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Sexuality
 Structural Functionalism
 Conflict Theory
 Symbolic Interactionism
 Queer Theory

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