Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Sex & Gender Sexual Orientation All human activities, including sexual preferences, are to some extent learned and malleable (i.e., cultural). Sexual orientation refers to a persons habitual sexual attractions and activities.

Heterosexuality refers to the sexual preference for members of the opposite sex. Homosexuality refers to the sexual preference for members of the same sex. Bisexuality refers to the sexual preference for members of both sexes. Asexuality refers to having no sexual preference or attraction. American Psychological Assoc. on Sexual Orientation Sexual orientation exists along a continuum Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and selfconcept. Individuals may or may not express

their sexual orientation in their behaviors. Homosexuality and Culture: the Etoro (Sambia, P.N.G.) Boys have homosexual relations as part of initiation but enter heterosexual marriages as adults. Believe semen is necessary to give life force to a fetus and crops.

Men have a limited supply of semen. Sex saps male vitality. Homosexuality and Culture: the Etoro (Sambia) Heterosexual sex is seen as necessary to reproduce, but unpleasant because it eventually leads to death. Heterosexual sex is discouraged & limited to certain days.

Banned from community life & must take place in the woods far from the village. Homosexuality and Culture: the Etoro (Sambia) Homosexual sex between adult & adolescent males viewed as essential. In order for boys to grow into men, they must orally receive semen from older men.

Homosexual acts can take place in the village. Such sex between boys of the same age is discouraged. Sexuality and Culture Sexual norms affect sexual behavior & vary considerably. Cultures differ in:

Age sexuality begins & ends. Importance of sexual activity & acceptance of sexual behaviors. What is erotic and attractive. Inis Beag Society: Ireland Messenger studied (58-66) this Gaelic community of around 350 individuals. One of the most sexually nave of the worlds societies.

Women expected to endure sex. Refusing intercourse was mortal sin. Clothes worn during sex. Scarification, Papua N.G. 1975 Mens Initiation Rites Often validate male dominance. Legitimate a change of status from boy to

man. Over a long period of separation he learns the beliefs, skills, & knowledge to participate as an adult man in society. Womens Initiation Rites Generally performed at menarche. Often learn secret womens knowledge.

Occur in more societies Kukuyu, Kenya than mens rites. Gender Roles Tasks & activities assigned to sexes. the

Vary with environment, economy, adaptive strategy, & types of political & religious systems. Can change when any of factors change. these Recurrent Gender Patterns

Expressed & reinforced through religious beliefs & practices, language, political & economic structures, & social interactions. Universally expressed through adornment and comportment. Vietnamese gendered dress Gender Stratification

How gendered activities & attributes are related to the unequal distribution of resources, prestige, & power in a society. Economic Roles & Gender Stratification As womens contributions to subsistence lowers, gender stratification increases. Gender stratification is lower when domestic and public spheres are not clearly distinguished.

Private (Domestic)/Public Dichotomy Womens status lowered by identification with home and children. Men identified with public, prestigious economic & political roles. Public activities often have more prestige, promoting gender stratification. Continuum from foragers (none) to agriculturalists (typically strong)

Matrifocal Societies A survey of matrifocal (often with no resident husband-father) societies indicates that male travel & external warfare combined with a prominent female economic role reduced gender stratification. Tlingit of the NW Coast Gender relations were egalitarian and each could achieve prestige.

Sexual division of labor was not rigid. Women often negotiators & handled money for long-distance trade. Tlingit of the NW Coast Some women were heads of clans or tribes.

Ideal marriage was between a man and woman of equal rank. Roles based on ability, training, & personality rather than gender. Iroquois of the NE Coast Strong cult of masculinity, yet women's political & ritual influence could rival that of men.

External warfare. Women controlled local economy; men hunted & fished. Matrons determined entry in longhouses, nominated & impeached chiefs, & regulated war & peace efforts. Women had equal influence in the religious sphere.

Patrifocal Societies The spread of patrilineal-patrilocal societies tied to pressure on resources & increased local warfare. Resources become scarcer, warfare increases. The patrilineal-patrilocal complex concentrates related males in villages, which

solidifies their alliances. Patrifocal Societies Increases male prestige chances & results in higher gender stratification. Females cook & raise children, but are isolated from the public domain. Males consider females to be polluting.

Premarital & extramarital sex is more tolerated for males. Foraging Societies Least gender stratification. Hierarchy is least marked, aggression & competition are most discouraged, & the rights, activities, & spheres of influence of men and women overlap the most.

Most likely the ancestral pattern of human society. Horticultural Societies Usually a high degree of segregation between the sexes. Martin & Voorhies (1975) found women dominated horticulture in 64% of matrilineal

societies & in 50% of patrilineal societies. Women did most of the labor in 83% of the societies. Pastoral & Agricultural Societies Pastoral and agricultural societies tend to be male dominated (patriarchal), though there is variation.

In pastoral societies, womens status depends on how much herding is combined with cultivation, the historical context, & the diffusion of ideas. Agricultural Societies Women are cut off from production. Martin & Voorhies (1975) found women were the main workers in only 15% of agricultural societies.

Males dominated cultivation in 81% of agricultural societies. Agricultural Societies Shift due in part to the increase of heavier labor in agriculture & in the number of children. E.g., In European farming cultures men

did the farming, while women tended supplemental gardens, did low-prestige farm work, & took care of domestic duties. Agricultural Societies Social changes from agriculture reduced the status of women. Belief systems contrast men's valuable extradomestic labor with women's domestic role, now viewed as inferior.

The decline of polygyny and the new importance of the nuclear family isolated women from kin and co-wives. Agricultural Societies Female sexuality is carefully supervised & men have greater access to divorce & extramarital sex. There are many exceptions to this,

wherein women still do most of the cultivation work & have a correspondingly high status (e.g., the Betsileo of Brazil).

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