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Gender and Sexuality. Some Definitions Sex—the biological category of male or female; sexual intercourse Gender—cultural, social, and psychological meanings.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender and Sexuality. Some Definitions Sex—the biological category of male or female; sexual intercourse Gender—cultural, social, and psychological meanings."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender and Sexuality

2 Some Definitions Sex—the biological category of male or female; sexual intercourse Gender—cultural, social, and psychological meanings associated with masculinity or femininity

3 Some Definitions Gender roles—behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits designated either masculine or feminine in a given culture Gender identity—A persons psychological sense of being male or female Sexual orientation—direction of a person's emotional and erotic attractions

4 Gender Role Stereotypes The beliefs and expectations people hold about the typical characteristics, preferences, and behaviors of men and women In the US, men and women view the female stereotype more positively than the male stereotype. This is called benevolent sexism

5 Gender Role Stereotypes There is a high degree of agreement on the characteristics associated with each sex among people of many different cultures

6 Gender Related Differences Differences do not mean deficiencies Three main areas of gender differences –Personality –Cognitive abilities –Sexual attitudes and behaviors


8 Personality Differences No significant differences between men and women on most characteristics Women tend to be more nurturant than men Men tend to be more assertive than women

9 Cognitive Differences No differences for most cognitive abilities Verbal, reading, and writing—females consistently score higher Spatial skills—males outscore females on mentally rotating objects, females score better on remembering locations of objects Math Skills—males score slightly better than females

10 Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Reported differences between males and females in these areas have become less pronounced since the 1960s Recent meta-analyses indicate that men tend to have more sexual partners, experience first intercourse at an earlier age, and masturbate more frequently than women.

11 Gender Role Development Between ages 2-3 years, children can identify themselves and other children as boys or girls. The concept of gender or sex, however is based more on outward characteristics such as clothing. Toddler girls tend to play more with dolls and ask for help more than boys

12 Gender Role Development Toddler boys tend to play more with trucks and wagons, and tend to play more actively After age 3 years we see consistent gender differences in preferred toys and activities

13 Social Learning Theory Gender roles are acquired through the basic processes of learning, including reinforcement, punishment, and modeling

14 Gender Schema Theory Gender-role development is influenced by the formation of schemas, or mental representations, of masculinity and femininity

15 Gender Schema Theory An example of how a child forms a schema associated with gender. A girl is offered a choice of 4 toys to play with. I am a girl Toy car Doll Orange Artichoke Approach object Who for? Is it relevant to me? Avoid/ Forget Assign to category and remember/ Approach Not for me For me Boys Girls

16 Human Sexual Response Stage 1: Excitement—beginning of sexual arousal Stage 2: Plateau—increased physical arousal Stage 3: Orgasm—male ejaculates, female vaginal contractions Stage 4: Resolution—arousal subsides



19 What Motivates Sexual Behavior Necessary for the survival of the species but not of the individual Lower animals motivated by hormonal changes in the female Higher species less influenced by hormones and more by learning and environmental influences

20 Sexual Orientation Sexual orientation—direction of a person's emotional and erotic attractions Heterosexual—sexual attraction for the opposite sex Homosexual—sexual attraction for the same sex

21 Sexual Orientation Gay—typically used to describe male homosexuals Lesbian—typically used to describe female homosexuals Bisexual—sexual attraction for both sexes

22 Determination of Sexual Orientation Genetics—role suggested by twin and family studies Brain structure—differences found in hypothalamus of homosexual and heterosexual men Complex issue with no clear answers

23 Some General Findings Sexual orientation is an early-emerging, ingrained aspect of the self that probably does not change No consistent relationship between orientation and childhood experiences (e.g., parenting, abuse, sexual experience) Controversial findings suggest a possible relationship among prenatal stress, androgens, and the development of brain systems that play a role in sexual attraction

24 Sexual Development Puberty—stage where an individual reaches sexual maturity and is physically capable of sexual reproduction Primary sex characteristics—sex organs directly involved in reproduction

25 Sexual Development Secondary sex characteristics— develop during puberty, not directly involved in reproduction, but distinguish male from female Adolescent growth spurt—period of accelerated growth during puberty Menarche—female’s first menstrual period

26 Sexuality in Adulthood Majority of adults (80%) report having none or one sexual partner in the past year (marriage factor) Majority of men ages 18-59 have sex about seven times per month.

27 Sexuality in Adulthood Majority of women ages 18-59 have sex about six times per month Vaginal intercourse is nearly universal as the most widely practiced sexual activity among heterosexual couples 50 percent of older Americans reported sexual activity at least once per month.

28 Sexual Disorders and Problems Sexual dysfunction—consistent disturbance in sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm that causes psychological distress and interpersonal difficulties 41% of women and 31% of men report sexual problems

29 Sexual Disorders and Problems Low desire and arousal problems common among women Premature ejaculation and erectile problems common among men

30 Paraphelia Any of several forms of nontraditional sexual behavior where sexual gratification depends on an unusual experience, object, or fantasy

31 Paraphelia –Exhibitionism—arousal from exposing one’s genitals to strangers –Fetishism—arousal in response to inanimate objects (shoes, leather) –Frotteurism—arousal from touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person, such as in a bus or subway

32 Gender Identity Disorder Persistent discomfort about one’s physical gender along with the desire to be a member of the opposite sex Previously termed “transsexualism” May undergo hormone treatment or sex-reassignment surgery

33 Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) STD—any of several infectious diseases transmitted through sexual intercourse or other sexual contact Of the 12 million cases of STDs diagnosed annually in the US, about 8 million are among people under 25 years of age

34 Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Many STDs have mild or no symptoms, yet left untreated can cause serious health problems

35 AIDS Epidemic Acquired immune deficiency syndrome—caused by exchange of bodily fluids (blood, blood products, semen) containing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and weakens the immune system HIV can stay in the body for many years without apparent symptoms

36 AIDS Epidemic As the HIV attacks the immune system, the person becomes very susceptible to other opportunistic diseases (pneumonia, cancers) Highest risk groups are gay men, IV drug users sharing needles, and people with multiple sex partners

37 Prevention and Treatment There is currently no cure for AIDS, but it can be treated with complex “drug cocktails,” which improve quality and duration of life, but have many side effects and are extremely expensive

38 Prevention and Treatment Prevention is possible using condoms, not engaging in other high risk behaviors such as sharing needles, and improved blood screening and infection control in health care settings.

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