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SC2220: Gender Studies Biology, Sex & Gender (The Sex/Gender Distinction) Dr. Eric C. Thompson
Key Points ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
1. Human Sexual Reproduction and Gender
What is so good about Sex? ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Asexual Reproduction (Example: Hydra) (Note: This Hydra, a Mythical Greek Beast, is not what I’m talking about!) Hydra grow “buds” that drop off, grow large, and grow their own buds. Hydra are  biologically immortal  (they don’t age!). Hydra are small creatures that live in water.
Sexual Reproduction (1): Sequential and Simultaneous Hermaphrodites Clown Fish: Male to Female Sex Change (Nemo’s deep dark secret?) Wrasse: Female to Male Sex Change Hamlet Fish: Simultaneous Hermaphrodites (Take turns during extended, multiple mating sessions, lasting several days) Banana Slug: Simultaneous Prefers to mate with partner, but self-fertilizes if necessary.
Sexual Reproduction(2): Heterosexuals Homo sapiens sapiens Hoverflies Rabbits
Human Heterosexuality shapes Gender ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
But Biology Does Not  Determine  Gender. ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
The Sex / Gender Distinction ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Male, Female, Other, Don’t Know? ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],*For technical reasons, becoming female is considered the ‘normal’ developmental sequence; and “masculinization” is a deviation.
Human Hermaphrodites “Intersexed” Individuals ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],The Reclining Hermaphrodite 1 st  century BCE sculpture See the Short Film XXXY: Intersex Genital Mutilation
2. Biology, Gender and Cultural Myth-making
Heterosexed Individuals ,[object Object],[object Object]
Why are we obsessed with Biological Sex Differences? ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
“ Sexing the Brain”* ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],*See Fausto-Sterling,  Sexing the Body  (2000) Chapter 5 (This is among the supplementary readings)
Ok, so there is a lot of misleading of scientific information,  BUT  men and women are still different in many ways,  on average , right? ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],ABSOLUTELY TRUE! But, what does “ average”  mean? Is everyone pretty much average?
Problem with Averages ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],“ Even when scientists themselves are cautious… popular renditions of new scientific findings dispense with linguistic subtlety” (Fausto-Sterling pg.236)
FEMALES MALES 80% 20% 80% In US Army physical tests: top 20% of women had the same average as bottom 20% for men. (These statistics then get used both  for  and  against  women in the military) How big is the difference? Example of a test of physical ability; emphasizing upper body strength.*
How much can  you  lift? Udomporn Polsak (Female, Thailand, Height 150 cm, Weight 53 kg): Lifted 125 kg* Tang Gonghong (Female, China, Height 172 cm, Weight 120 kg): Lifted 182.5 kg Halil Mutlu (Male, Turkey, Height 150 cm, Weight 56 kg): Lifted 160 kg Hossein Reza Zadeh (Male, Iran, Height 185 cm, Weight 160 kg): Lifted 262.5 kg *All results for “Clean & Jerk” 2004 Olympics
“ Strong Masculine Bodies” ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Turning Averages into Absolutes ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],In almost every case, the abilities of woman and men overlap.
3. Sex Differences that Matter in (Some) Social Contexts *Sexual Dimorphism *Reproductive Strategies *Sexual Competition *Hormones
Sexual Dimorphism ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Reproductive Strategies ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Sexual Competition ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Some Consequences of Reproductive Strategies ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Testosterone (Hormone) Theory ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
A Few Facts about Testosterone ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Social Effects of Testosterone ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Beyond Testosterone ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
Biological Differences Matter. But  Myths Matter More . Biology is not destiny. Gender is a process we live and a project we construct every day of our lives.

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Sc2220 Lecture 3 2009

  • 1. SC2220: Gender Studies Biology, Sex & Gender (The Sex/Gender Distinction) Dr. Eric C. Thompson
  • 2.
  • 3. 1. Human Sexual Reproduction and Gender
  • 4.
  • 5. Asexual Reproduction (Example: Hydra) (Note: This Hydra, a Mythical Greek Beast, is not what I’m talking about!) Hydra grow “buds” that drop off, grow large, and grow their own buds. Hydra are biologically immortal (they don’t age!). Hydra are small creatures that live in water.
  • 6. Sexual Reproduction (1): Sequential and Simultaneous Hermaphrodites Clown Fish: Male to Female Sex Change (Nemo’s deep dark secret?) Wrasse: Female to Male Sex Change Hamlet Fish: Simultaneous Hermaphrodites (Take turns during extended, multiple mating sessions, lasting several days) Banana Slug: Simultaneous Prefers to mate with partner, but self-fertilizes if necessary.
  • 7. Sexual Reproduction(2): Heterosexuals Homo sapiens sapiens Hoverflies Rabbits
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13. 2. Biology, Gender and Cultural Myth-making
  • 14.
  • 15.
  • 16.
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19. FEMALES MALES 80% 20% 80% In US Army physical tests: top 20% of women had the same average as bottom 20% for men. (These statistics then get used both for and against women in the military) How big is the difference? Example of a test of physical ability; emphasizing upper body strength.*
  • 20. How much can you lift? Udomporn Polsak (Female, Thailand, Height 150 cm, Weight 53 kg): Lifted 125 kg* Tang Gonghong (Female, China, Height 172 cm, Weight 120 kg): Lifted 182.5 kg Halil Mutlu (Male, Turkey, Height 150 cm, Weight 56 kg): Lifted 160 kg Hossein Reza Zadeh (Male, Iran, Height 185 cm, Weight 160 kg): Lifted 262.5 kg *All results for “Clean & Jerk” 2004 Olympics
  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23. 3. Sex Differences that Matter in (Some) Social Contexts *Sexual Dimorphism *Reproductive Strategies *Sexual Competition *Hormones
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26.
  • 27.
  • 28.
  • 29.
  • 30.
  • 31.
  • 32. Biological Differences Matter. But Myths Matter More . Biology is not destiny. Gender is a process we live and a project we construct every day of our lives.