Chapter 12 OutlinePlease note that much of this information is quoted from the text.I. BIOLOGICAL, SOCIAL, AND COGNITIVE INFLUENCES ON GENDER • Gender refers to the characteristics of people as females or males. • Gender role is a set of expectations that prescribe how females and males should act, think, and feel. • Gender typing is the process by which children acquire the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are considered appropriate for their gender in a particular culture. A. Biological Influences • The 23rd pair of chromosomes in humans are sex chromosomes that carry the genetic material that determines our sex. XX = male; XY = female 1. Hormones Estrogens primarily influence the development of female physical sex characteristics, help regulate the menstrual cycle, and are produced in the ovaries. Androgens primarily promote the development of male genitals and secondary sex characteristics and are produced in the adrenal glands in males and females and by the testes in males. To explore the biological influences on gender, research has focused on individuals who have been exposed to unusual levels of the aforementioned sex hormones during development. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH): Adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of androgens in girls. Girls/women are generally less content with being a female and show a stronger desire in being male than non-CAH peers. They enjoy and engage in more “masculine” activities. Androgen-insensitive males: Males without androgen receptors in their cells; thus, testosterone cannot affect the cells. If androgen insensitivity is complete, XY males’ bodies look female and they develop a female gender identity. Pelvic field defect: Boys exposed to normal levels of testosterone prenatally, but usually castrated just after being born. These children develop a male gender identity even if they are raised as girls. Identical twin with errant circumcision: One boy twin lost his penis and was surgically reassigned and raised as a girl. The “girl” never felt comfortable as a girl and eventually reassigned himself to be a male again. He committed suicide at age 38. Although sex hormones alone do not determine behavior, researchers have found links between sex hormone levels and certain behavior. Levels of testosterone are correlated with sexual behavior in boys during puberty. Violent male criminals have above-average levels of testosterone. Professional football players have higher levels of testosterone than ministers do. 2. The Evolutionary Psychology View Evolutionary adaptations produced psychological sex differences as men and women have faced different evolutionary pressures. Sexual selection: Men compete for access to women and so evolved dispositions that favor violence, competition, and risk taking. Women developed a preference for men who could provide resources and protection. Critics argue that this position is purely speculation and not based on evidence. Critics also claim that the evolutionary view pay little attention to cultural and individual variations in gender differences. B. Social Influences 1. Three theories discussed in the text emphasize the impact of social experiences on psychological gender differences: social role theory, psychoanalytic theory of gender, and social cognitive theory of gender.
a. Social role theory • According to Alice Eagly and others, psychological sex differences are caused by contrasting roles in society, not by evolved dispositions. • In most cultures, women have less power and control fewer resources than men. • As women adapted to roles with less power and status, they showed more cooperative, less dominant profiles than men. b. Psychoanalytic theory of gender • The Psychoanalytic Theory of Gender stems from Freud’s view that the preschool child develops a sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite sex. Freud theorized that about the age of 5 or 6, the child renounces this attraction because of anxious feelings and identifies with the same-sex parent, unconsciously adopting this parent’s behavior. Most experts today do not hold this view. c. Social cognitive theory of gender • The Social Cognitive Theory of Gender proposes that children’s gender development proceeds through observation and imitation of adults, the media, and peers; and through the rewards and punishments that children receive for gender-appropriate and gender-inappropriate behavior. • Bronstein emphasizes that mothers and fathers often interact differently with sons and daughters: • Mothers’ socialization strategies typically emphasize more obedience and responsibility in daughters than in sons, along with more restrictions on their autonomy. • Fathers’ socialization strategies typically involve paying more attention to sons than daughters and expending more effort in promoting their sons’ intellectual development. • Children also learn about gender from observing other adults in the neighborhood and in the media. • Peers reward and punish gender behavior. C. Cognitive Influences • Critics of social cognitive theory state that this explanation pays too little attention to the child’s own mind and understanding, and portrays the child as passively acquiring gender roles. This section discusses a theory that takes a more cognitive approach. 1. Gender Schema Theory • Gender schema theory states that gender typing emerges as children gradually develop gender schemas of what is gender-appropriate and gender-inappropriate in their culture. • A gender schema is a mental framework that organizes the world in terms of male and female. • Children are internally motivated to perceive the world and to act in accordance with their developing schemas. • Research In Life-Span Development: Young Children’s Gender Schemas of Occupations • Children as young as 3 to 4 years of age have strong gender schemas regarding the perceived competencies of men and women in gender-typed occupations. • Gender roles often constrict boys more than girls. • Gender stereotyping for occupations tends to decrease with age.II. GENDER COMPARISONS AND CLASSIFICATION A. Gender Stereotyping • Gender stereotypes are general impressions and beliefs about females and males. 1. Traditional Masculinity and Femininity
• A classic study in the early 1970s found that traits associated with males were labeled instrumental (e.g., independent, aggressive, power-oriented), whereas traits associated with females were labeled expressive (e.g., warm, sensitive). • Instrumental traits paralleled the traditional masculine role of breadwinner, whereas expressive traits paralleled the traditional feminine role of caregiver. These roles and traits are different and unequal in terms of social status and power. • Research continues to find that gender stereotyping is pervasive. 2. Developmental Changes in Gender Stereotyping A recent study found gender stereotyping in children as young as 2 years of age, but increased considerably by 4 years of age. A recent study revealed that children’s gender stereotyping increased from preschool through fifth grade. Gender stereotyping may increase during early adolescence, and then decline again by late adolescence.B. Gender Similarities and Differences • When looking at differences between the sexes, it is important to remember that the differences are averages (not all females versus all males). • Even when differences are reported, considerable overlap exists between the sexes. • The differences may be primarily caused by biological factors, sociocultural factors, or both. 1. Physical Similarities and Differences • There are a variety of physical differences between men and women. • Women have about twice the body fat of men. • Males grow to be 10 percent taller than females. • Males and females differ in their sex hormones. • Females are less likely to develop physical or mental disorders. • Males have higher levels of stress hormones, which cause faster clotting and higher blood pressure. • Several differences have been found with respect to males’ and females’ brains: Female brains are smaller but have more convolutions (folds) which means that there is more surface brain tissue in females than in males. A part of the hypothalamus associated with sexual behavior is larger in males. An area of the parietal lobe associated with visuospatial skills is larger in males. • When gender differences in the brain have been revealed, in many cases they have not been directly linked to psychological differences. • There are far more similarities than differences in the brains of females and males. 2. Cognitive Similarities and Differences • Gender experts stress that the cognitive differences between females and males have been exaggerated. • Most research finds that males are better at math and visuospatial skills and females have better verbal abilities, although there is considerable overlap in scores. • Gender differences in standardized tests scores vary depending upon the test given. • Females earn better grades and complete high school at a higher rate than boys. • There is still a gender divide in terms of math and science careers. 3. Socioemotional Similarities and Differences • Boys are more physically aggressive than girls, especially when provoked. The difference occurs in all cultures and appears very early in children’s development. • When verbal aggression is considered, girls appear to be equal in aggression to boy, or perhaps even more aggressive. • Relational aggression involves harming someone by manipulating a relationship and is more common in girls. • Beginning in early adolescence, girls say they experience more sadness, shame, and guilt, and report more intense emotions, whereas boys are more likely to deny that they experience these emotions. • Males show less self-regulation of emotions which can lead to behavioral problems.
3.Gender Controversy Controversy continues about the extent of gender differences and what might cause them. Some focus on the evolutionary foundation for gender differences. Some focus on the social conditions that create gender differences. Janey Shibley Hyde concludes that gender differences have been greatly exaggerated. A recent meta-analysis by Hyde found that gender differences were either nonexistent or small in most areas, including math ability and communication. Gender differences in physical aggression were moderate. The largest differences occurred for motor skills, physical aggression, and sexuality. 4.Gender in Context • Gender behavior often varies across contexts. • Context and gender interact to influence helping behavior and displays of emotion. • Sociocultural contexts determine what is considered to be gender-appropriate and gender- inappropriate behavior. • In many cultures around the world, traditional gender roles continue to guide the behavior of males and females. • In the U.S., the cultural backgrounds of adolescents influence how boys and girls will be socialized.III. GENDER DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN A. Childhood • In childhood, children learn quickly about gender roles, and boys receive earlier and more intense gender socialization than girls. • Children show a preference for same-sex peers. • Boys might have a more difficult time learning the masculine gender role because male models are less accessible to young children and messages from adults about the male role are not always consistent. • Gender roles have become more flexible in recent years, but this flexibility applies more to girls than to boys. It is more acceptable for girls to demonstrate instrumental traits, but not as acceptable for boys to demonstrate expressive traits. B. Adolescence • The gender intensification hypothesis: Psychological and behavioral differences between boys and girls become greater during early adolescence because of increased socialization pressures to conform to traditional masculine and feminine gender roles. • Family context affects the strength of gender intensification. • Adopting a strong masculine role in adolescence is increasingly being found to be associated with problem behaviors. C. Adulthood and Aging 1. Gender and Communication Rapport talk is the language of conversation, a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Women enjoy rapport talk more, and men’s lack of interest in rapport talk bothers many women. Report talk is designed to give information which includes public speaking. Men prefer to engage in report talk, and they learn to use talk as a way of getting and keeping attention. Although some studies do support the notion of gender differences in communication, recent meta-analyses suggests that these differences are small in children and adults. 2. Women’s Development • Most experts believe that it is important for women to not only maintain their competency in relationships but also to be self-motivated, strong, assertive, and independent.
• Women are more relationship oriented than men – and that this relationship orientation should be prized as a skill in our culture more than it currently is. Some consider this view stereotypical. 3. Men’s Development Pleck’s role strain view states that male roles are contradictory and create stress when they are followed and when they are violated. Areas of role strain for men: Health. Men live 8–10 years less than women do and have higher rates of stress disorders, alcoholism, car accidents, and suicide. Male-female relationships. Male roles require them to be dominant, powerful, aggressive, and to control women, who are looked at in terms of their bodies, and not as equal in work, earnings, and so forth, in some cases causing violence toward women. Male-male relationships. Emphasis on competition rather than cooperation, with little positive, emotional connections with other males. To reconstruct their masculinity in more positive ways, Levant suggests that every man should do the following: Reexamine his beliefs about manhood Separate out the valuable aspects of the male role Get rid of those parts of the masculine role that are destructive 4. Gender and Aging Some developmentalists believe that there is decreasing femininity in women and decreasing masculinity in men when they reach the late adulthood years. A possible double jeopardy also faces many women – the burden of both ageism and sexism. Older, minority women may face triple jeopardy – ageism, sexism, and racism. Contexts of Life-Span Development: Being Female, Ethnic, and Old Some research has found that older African American women have faced considerable stress in their lives. In the face of this stress, they have shown remarkable adaptiveness, resilience, responsibility, and coping skills. However, many older African American women would indeed benefit from improved support.IV. EXPLORING SEXUALITY A. Biological and Cultural Factors 1. Biological Factors • The pituitary gland and hypothalamus regulate the secretion of sex hormones. • For human males, higher androgen levels are associated with sexual motivation and orgasm frequency. • Sexual behavior is so individualized in humans that it is difficult to specify the effects of hormones. 2. Cultural Factors • Sexual motivation also is influenced by cultural factors. • The range of sexual values across cultures is substantial. • Sexual Scripts: Stereotyped patterns of expectancies for how people should sexually behave. • Traditional Religious Script: Sex is accepted only within marriage. Extramarital sex is taboo, especially for women. Sex means reproduction and sometimes affection. • Romantic Script: Sex is synonymous with love. If we develop a relationship with someone and fall in love, it is acceptable to have sex with the person whether we are married or not. • Females tend to link sexual intercourse with love more than males do, and males are more likely to emphasize sexual conquest.
• Some sexual scripts involve a double standard. B. Sexual Orientation 1. Heterosexual Attitudes and Behavior • Michael (1994) and his colleagues interviewed 3,500 Americans aged 18 to 50 years of age and found the following: 1. One-third have sex at least twice per week, one-third have sex a few times per month, and one-third have sex a few times per year or not at all. 2. Married couples have sex more often and are more likely to have orgasms. 3. Most Americans do not have kinky sexual acts. 4. Adultery is clearly the exception rather than the rule. 5. Men report thinking about sex far more than women do. 6. Overall, sexual behavior is ruled by marriage and monogamy for most Americans. Overall, sexual behavior is ruled by marriage and monogamy for most Americans. A recent study found that men report more frequent feelings of sexual arousal, have more frequent sexual fantasies, and rate the strength of their own sex drive higher than do women. Men are also more likely to masturbate and have more permissive attitudes about casual premarital sex. 2. Attitudes and Behavior of Lesbians and Gay Males • Sexual minority individuals include gay males, lesbians, and bisexuals. • Bisexuality: Being sexually attracted to people of both sexes. • Michael’s study found only 2.7 percent of the men and 1.3 percent of the women indicated that they had had homosexual sex in the past year. • No firm answers are available as to why some people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB). • Homosexuality was once classified as a mental disorder. This classification was discontinued in the 1970s. • A critical-period hypothesis suggests that exposure of the fetus to female hormone levels may cause the individual (male or female) to become attracted to males. • An individual’s sexual orientation most likely is determined by a combination of genetic, hormonal, cognitive, and environmental factors. • Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are no more likely to be homosexual than if raised by heterosexual parents. • No evidence proves that male homosexuality is caused by a dominant mother or a weak father, or that female homosexuality is caused by girls choosing male role models. • Many relationship characteristics and gender differences that appear in heterosexual relationships also occur in same-sex relationships, although there are some variations. • Below are some conclusions about research on gay male and lesbian relationships by leading expert Letitia Peplau and her colleagues: • Regardless of sexual orientation, most males and females emphasize the importance of affection, trust, and shared interests in a relationship. • Regardless of sexual orientation, a partner’s sexual attraction is more important to men while a partner’s personality characteristics are more important to women. • Lesbians have fewer sex partners than gay men, and lesbians have sex less often than gay males or heterosexual couples. • Traditional heterosexual marriages involve a gender-based division of labor and greater power by the man, whereas in same-sex couples, regardless of the sex, a more equal distribution of labor and power is emphasized. • Lesbians have less permissive attitudes about casual sex and sex outside a primary relationship than gay men. • Gays and lesbians experience life as a minority in a dominant majority culture. • Developing a bicultural identity and balancing the demands of the two cultures can lead to effective coping. • A special concern involving sexual minority individuals are the hate-crimes and stigma- related experiences they encounter.C. Sexually Transmitted Infections
• Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases that are contracted primarily through sexual contact. This contact includes oral-genital contact, anal-genital contact, and vaginal intercourse. • STIs are an increasing health problem, affecting about one of every six U.S. adults. • Common STIs in the US include: • Gonorrhea (650,000 cases/year) • Syphilis (40,000 cases/year) • Chlamydia (2.8 million/year) • Genital Herpes (20% of individuals 12 years and older have had a genital herpes infection) • HPV (over a million new cases per year) • HIV and AIDS (982,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the U.S.) • Protecting Against STIs • Know your partner’s risk status and remember that many people lie about it. • Obtain screening tests for STIs. • Have protected sex. • Don’t have sex with multiple partners.D. Forcible Sexual Behavior and Harassment 1. Rape • Rape is forcible sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex with a person who does not give consent. • Date or acquaintance rape is coercive sexual activity directed at someone with whom the individual is at least casually acquainted. It is an increasing problem on college campuses. • Most victims of rape are women, but male rape does occur. • By some estimates, two-thirds of college freshman women report having been date-raped or having experienced an attempted date rape at least once. About two-thirds of college men admit that they fondle women against their will, and half admit to forcing sexual activity. • Another major phone survey study of college women found that unwanted or uninvited sexual contacts were widespread, with more than one-third reporting these incidents. • Several factors were associated with sexual victimization: living on campus, being unmarried, getting drunk frequently, and experiencing prior sexual victimization. • Men in prison are especially vulnerable to rape, usually be heterosexual males who use rape as a means of establishing their dominance and power. • Male victims account for fewer than 5percent of all rapes. • Researchers have found the following common characteristics among rapists: (1) aggression enhances their sense of power or masculinity; (2) they are angry at women in general; and (3) they want to hurt and humiliate their victims. • The victim suffers a traumatic experience, and her recovery depends on both her coping abilities, social support, and her psychological adjustment before the assault. 2. Sexual Harassment • Sexual Harassment includes sexist remarks and covert physical contact to blatant propositions and sexual assault. • Millions of women experience sexual harassment each year in work and educational settings. Rates for sexual harassment for men are much lower than the rate for women. • A recent survey of college women revealed that 62% had experienced sexual harassment while attending college. • In a recent study of 12- to 18-year-old adolescent girls, 90% reported experiencing sexual harassment, 52% academic sexism, and 76% athletic sexism at least once. • Learning about feminism and gender-conformity pressures is related to increased perceptions of sexism. • Sexual harassment can result in serious psychological consequences for the victim.
V. SEXUALITY THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN A. Child Sexuality • Most children engage in some sex play, usually with friends or siblings, but no link has been found between child sexual play and sexual adjustment later in life. • As the elementary school years progress, sex play with others usually declines, although romantic interest in peers may be present. • Sexual curiosity remains high in the elementary school years, especially about reproduction. B. Sexuality in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood 1. Adolescence • Adolescence is a critical juncture in the development of sexuality as pubertal changes unfold and individuals develop a sexual identity. • At this time, sexual exploration, experimentation, fantasies, and incorporating sexuality into one’s identity occur. Curiosity is extremely high. • Adolescents learn a great deal about sex from television. • Adolescents who view more sexual content on TV are more likely to initiate sexual intercourse earlier than their peers who view less sexual content on TV. a. Developing a Sexual Identity • Mastering emerging sexual feelings and forming a sense of sexual identity is a multifaceted and lengthy process. • An adolescent’s sexual identity involves activities, interests, styles of behavior, and an indication of sexual orientation. • Some gay and lesbian adolescents quietly struggle with same-sex attraction in childhood, do not engage in heterosexual dating, and gradually recognize that they are gay or lesbian in mid- to late adolescence. • Others have no recollection of same-sex attractions and experience a more abrupt sense of their same-sex attraction in late adolescence. • The majority of adolescents with same-sex attractions also experience some degree of other-sex attractions—some fall in love with these individuals; others are purely physical. b. The Timing and Frequency of Adolescent Sexual Behaviors • The timing of sexual initiation varies by country as well as by gender and other socioeconomic characteristics. • In the United States, males, African Americans, and inner-city adolescents report being the most sexually active, while Asian American adolescents have a more conservative sexual timetable. • A recent 2005 national survey found that 63% of 12th graders reported having had sexual intercourse compared with 34% of 9th graders. • Adolescent males are more likely than adolescent females to say that they have had sexual intercourse and are sexually active. • Recent research indicates that oral sex is now a common occurrence in U.S. adolescents. • Adolescents are using oral sex as a recreational activity—not within the confines of an intimate, caring relationship. • Adolescents do not see oral sex as really sex. • Those who engage in oral sex consider themselves virgins. • Those who engage in oral sex perceive it as safer; hence, less likely to result in a STI than sexual intercourse. • Many adolescents appear to be unaware of the health risks linked to oral sex. c. Sexual Risk Factors in Adolescence • Many adolescents are not emotionally prepared to handle sexual experiences, especially in early adolescence. • Early sexual activity is linked with adjustment problems and risky behaviors such as excessive drinking, drug use, delinquency, and school-related problems.
Additionally, early sexual intercourse and affiliation with deviant peers at the age of 10–12 years is linked with substance use disorders in emerging adulthood. • In addition to having sex in early adolescence, other risk factors for sexual problems in adolescence include contextual factors such as SES, family/parenting, and peer factors. • Factors contributing to early sexual behavior include: • Having older sexually active siblings • Having a pregnant or parenting teenage sister • Not feeling close to parents • Having low self-esteem • Watching TV extensively • Not living with both biological parents • Low parental monitoring • Better academic is a protective factor in keeping boys and girls from engaging in early initiation of sexual intercourse. • Self-regulation—the ability to control one’s emotions and behavior— and attention problems are other important factors in sexual risk taking.d. Contraceptive Use • Sexual activity can lead to unintended pregnancies and STIs if safeguards are not taken. • Adolescents are increasing their use of contraceptives. • Although adolescent contraceptive use is increasing, many sexually active adolescents still do not use contraceptives, or they use them inconsistently. • Sexually active younger adolescents are less likely than older adolescents to take contraceptive precautions.e. Sexually Transmitted Infections • Every year more than 3 million American adolescents acquire an STI. • Adolescent girls in many African countries are vulnerable to being infected with HIV by adult men.f. Adolescent Pregnancy • In cross-cultural comparisons, the United States continues to have one of the highest adolescent pregnancy and childbearing rates in the industrialized world, despite considerable decline in the 1990s. • In 2004, births to adolescent girls fell to a record low. However, the U.S. adolescent birth rate increased in 2006. • There is a special concern about the continued high rate of adolescent pregnancy in Latinas. • Adolescent pregnancy creates health risks for both the mother and the baby. Infants are more likely to have low birth weights or neurological problems and childhood illness. • A longitudinal study revealed that these characteristics of adolescent mothers were related to their likelihood of having problems as emerging adults: a history of school problems, delinquency, hard substance use, and mental health problems. • Often, it is not the pregnancy alone that lead to negative consequences—low SES backgrounds and low achievement in school prior to the pregnancy are also contributors. • Adolescents can benefit from comprehensive sexuality education, beginning prior to adolescence and continuing through adolescence. • Applications in Life-Span Development: Reducing Adolescent Pregnancy • One strategy for reducing adolescent pregnancy, called the Teen Outreach Program, focuses on engaging adolescents in community service and stimulates discussion that helps adolescents appreciate the lesson they learn through volunteerism.
• Girls, Inc., includes four programs that are intended to increase adolescent girls’ motivation to avoid pregnancy until they are mature enough to make responsible decisions about motherhood. • Currently, a major controversy in sex education is whether schools should have an abstinence-only program or a program that emphasizes contraceptive knowledge. 2. Emerging Adulthood • Slightly more than 60% of individuals have had sexual intercourse at the beginning of emerging adulthood, but most have had sexual intercourse by the end of emerging adulthood. • The average age of marriage in the United States is currently 27 for males and 26 for females. • Patterns of heterosexual behavior for individuals in emerging adulthood include the following: Males have more casual sexual partners and females report being more selective. Approximately 60% of emerging adults have had sexual intercourse with only one individual in the past year, but compared with young adults in their late twenties and thirties, emerging adults are more likely to have had sexual intercourse with two or more individuals. Most emerging adults have had sexual intercourse with only one individual during a year. Emerging adults have sexual intercourse less frequently than young adults. Casual sex is more common in emerging adulthood than in young adulthood. • Individuals who became sexually active in adolescence engage in more risky sexual behaviors in emerging adulthood than do their counterparts who delayed their sexual debuts until emerging adulthood. • More religious emerging adults have had fewer sexual partners and engage in less risky sexual behaviors than their less religious counterparts. • When emerging adults drink alcohol, they are more likely to have casual sex and less likely to discuss possible risks. • A recent study found that emerging adult women who engaged in casual sex were more likely to report having depressive symptoms than emerging adult men.C. Sexuality and Aging 1. Middle Adulthood Climacteric is a term that is used to describe the midlife transition in which fertility declines. • Menopause is the time in middle age when a woman’s menstrual periods cease completely because of a dramatic decline in estrogen production by the ovaries. This dramatic decline in estrogen can produce hot flashes, nausea, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, or other symptoms in some women. • In the United States, the average age of menopause is 51. • Perimenopause is the transitional period from normal menstrual periods to no menstrual periods at all, which often takes up to 10 years. • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) augments the declining levels of reproductive hormone production by the ovaries, but may increase the risk of some diseases. • Because of the potential negative effects of HRT, many women are seeking alternatives such as regular exercise, dietary supplements, herbal remedies, relaxation therapy, acupuncture, and nonsteroidal medications. • For men, testosterone production and sperm count decline, but men are still able to produce offspring. The drop in testosterone could affect the man’s sex drive though. Erections are less full and less frequent, and require more stimulation to achieve them. • As much as 75% of the erectile dysfunctions in middle-aged men stem from physiological problems such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol levels.
• Drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis are 60 to 80 percent effective in treating sexual dysfunction. • Men and women continue to be able to function sexually, but sexual activity declines. • Middle-aged men want sex, think about it more, and masturbate more often than middle- aged women • A spouse or live-in partner makes all the difference in whether sexual activity occurs, especially for women over 40 years of age.2. Late Adulthood • Age has more effect on men than women as orgasm becomes less frequent and more stimulation is needed. • Even when intercourse is impaired by infirmity, other relationship needs persist, among them closeness, sensuality, and being valued as a man or a woman. • Recent survey data reveals that many older adults are sexually active as long as they are healthy.