Human Sexuality
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Human Sexuality



Defines sex and gender; looks at human sexuality as basis of culture and society; discusses cultural restrictions on sexuality; honor killings and clitoridectomy are two sanctons relating to ...

Defines sex and gender; looks at human sexuality as basis of culture and society; discusses cultural restrictions on sexuality; honor killings and clitoridectomy are two sanctons relating to sexuality.



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Human Sexuality Human Sexuality Presentation Transcript

  • Human Sexuality The Biological Foundation of Kinship
  • A Cultural Universal: Sex and its Cultural Derivative, Gender
    • If there is a universal among all cultures, let alone most animals, it is sex.
    • Because we are cultural beings, gender differences is everywhere present.
    • This section looks at the following:
    • The differences between sex and gender
    • The range of sexual restriction (sorry, we won’t look at people “doing it” across cultures)
    • The incest tabu and explanations of why this tabu is so widespread in the world’s culture.
    • The question of gender status
    • The gender division of labor
  • Gender and Sex
    • Sex refers to all the physical attributes that distinguish women and men
    • They include the reproductive systems and the body attributes of each sex.
    • Gender refers to the cultural attributes derived from sex differences.
    • The clothing styles that women and men wear is cultural.
    • The stereotyped personality differences is cultural; the kind of behavior expected from each gender
    • The tasks assigned to one gender or the other is derived from cultural expectations.
    • And, finally, the question of status between the two genders is a cultural one. The genders are nearly equal in status in some cultures and very unequal among others.
  • Where It All Begins: Sex Characteristics
    • There are two types of sex characteristics:
    • Primary sex characteristics are the reproductive organs.
    • Secondary sex characteristics are the body attributes of each sex.
    • Sexual dimorphism refers to the extent to which the secondary characteristics are evident between women and men.
    • What follows is a refresher on sex education.
  • A Refresher on Male Sex Characteristics
    • Males of our and all species have:
    • Testicles that produce sperm
    • Sperm that fertilizes the ovum
    • And contributes half the genes
    • The penis transmits sperm to the vagina when reproducing.
    • To overstate the obvious, the male role is brief, measurable in minutes.
  • A Refresher on Female Sex Characteristics
    • Females of our and all species have
    • Ovaries that produce ova (sing. ovum, or egg) then send them through the
    • Oviducts or Fallopian tubes that convey the egg to the
    • Uterus, “the “reception area” of the egg where, once fertilized by the sperm, the zygote (fertilized egg) is implanted.
    • Beforehand, the vagina has received the sperm which goes through the cervix and into the uterus.
    • Starting as the zygote, the lifeform as embryo then fetus develops in the uterus for the next nine months.
    • To state the obvious again, the reproductive role of the female takes much longer than that of the male
  • Reproductive Process: The Implications of Cooperation Between the Sexes
    • The sperm enters the cell wall of the ovum and fertilizes the nucleus, starting the process of mitosis that will lead to the embryo, fetus, and infant (upper left)
    • Of course, there are misconceptions as to the facts of life. . . (upper right)
    • In any event, it is clear why conception involves two constants that kinship has to address.
  • Secondary Sex Characteristics
    • Definition: Those physical characteristics that define the two sexes but not directly related to reproduction.
    • The associated characteristics may be quite pronounced among some species and barely perceptible among others.
    • Culture plays a role in defining their importance; nudity is allowed in some societies (mostly in tropical regions) whereas it is illegal in our own.
    • The Yanomamo and other societies in and near Amazonia allow near-nudity; yet even then Yanomamo males feel immodest without a penis string. Dani and other Western New Guinean males wear a namba or penis sheath.
    • In one sense, this shows that nudity is separated from sexual behavior; jealousy does occur among the Yanomamo, as does the incest tabu and mother-in-law avoidance.
  • Secondary Sex Characteristics: Animal Species
    • Sexual dimorphism varies from barely noticeable to the extreme.
    • Gibbons : Females and males are indistinguishable from each other (top photo)
    • (Burning question: would a gibbon buy Playboy or Playgirl —for the interviews, of course.)
    • Peacocks: Males have showy feathers—with functions of sexual attraction—while females are neutrally colored
    • Here, a peacock woos a peahen (bottom)
  • Secondary Sex Characteristics: Human Species
            • Censored
    • Human sexual dimorphism falls somewhere in the middle range of all animal species
    • Women have the following
    • Pendulous breasts for lactation
    • Wide pelvis for childbirth
    • Men have the following
    • Facial hair
    • Greater grip strength
    • Larger hearts and lungs
    • Narrow pelvis
    • (Censorship courtesy of Ethnocentrity, Inc. )
  • Gender Characteristics
    • Gender: the cultural attributes arising from sex differences
    • Haviland define gender as the “Cultural elaboration and meanings assigned to the biological differentiation between the sexes”
    • Examples include the following
    • Gender roles: bread winning among the men until the mid-20 th century; child rearing among women until about the same time.
    • Behavior: emotional expression (women), assertiveness (men)
    • Clothing, ornamentation, make-up were distinctive in 1940s North America (upper).
    • Morocco: Both men and women wear caftans; women’s caftans are more decorative; and most women also wear the veil (lower).
  • Rules Governing Sexual Behavior
    • All societies restrict sexual behavior in one way or another
    • Only 5% of the world’s cultures limit sexual behavior to marriage (including us, despite the “Sexual Revolution)
    • Of course, how we behave differs from the norm, in sexual as well as other matters.
    • Severity of punishment is more widespread, such as the “honor homicides” in the Middle East (next panel)
    • Clitoridectomy removes source of sexual pleasure in women throughout the Middle East and Africa (next panel)
    • Incest tabus are de facto restrictions, such as tabus in the family and the wider kin networks.
  • Enforcing Sexual Prohibitions: Honor Homicides
    • Honor homicides occur across the Middle East, usually in stoning the victim, usually but not always women.
    • “ Offense” is adultery, even in rape cases where a raped woman at least precludes her marriage
    • Upper left: A biblical scene of a mob threatening to stone Mary Magdalene for adultery.
    • This is the scene in which Jesus, on being asked about stoning her, says “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
    • Both men and women could be stoned to death, as in Afghanistan (lower left)
    • Here, a man is being stoned to death; the already dead woman is in the circle.
    • A question of ethical relativism ; do we as anthropologists suspend our judgment of this practice?
  • Clitoricectomy and Circumcision
    • Clitoridectomy is the removal of the clitoris in women; it eliminates sexual pleasure
    • Often, the term “circumcision” is applied to both women and men, but it obscures the distinction; in men, only the foreskin of the penis is opened and removed.
    • Above: Kipsigis girls (in veils) of East Africa are preparing for clitoridectomy.
    • Often, parts of the vulva are sewn afterward to ensure virginity.
    • Circumcision in males has also been questioned as a valid practice as well, as suggested in this political cartoon.
    • For more information, log on to EE030
  • On Human Sex and Sexuality
    • No matter the culture, two persons must always get together to reproduce offspring.
    • There are restrictions everywhere on mating.
    • Some sanctions may be preventive (clitoridectomy, for example), and others may be punitive (honor killings by stoning, to cite an example)
    • The most universal prohibition is the incest tabu, which we take up next.