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'sex' And 'gender' And The Relationship Between Them

1839 words - 8 pages

In psychology many different perspectives seek to explain the differences between males and females. In societies they play distinctive roles and are treated and viewed differently. They behave differently too. To compare and contrast the accounts of sex and gender we need to define the terms sex and gender. To examine further we need to examine the key aspects of the biological, evolutionary, social constructionist and psychoanalytical perspectives focusing on similarities and differences regarding their accounts of sex and gender. Finally need to consider the ways in which these perspectives compliment, conflict or simply co-exist with one another.Often the term sex and gender are used ...view middle of the document...

To determine the individual's sex is through sex chromosomes and every human being has a pair of sex chromosomes; in females this pair normally comprises of two X chromosomes and in males an X and a Y chromosome. Another indicator of 'maleness' or 'femaleness' for biological theorists are the levels of specific hormones such as testosterone (male) and oestrogen and progesterone (female) which produce primary and secondary sexual characteristics and are different in males and females.But we must not fail to say that genetic abnormalities do occur for example Klinefelter's syndrome is when males inherit an extra X chromosome resulting in an XXY pattern resulting in many feminine physical characteristics. While these genetic abnormalities are unusual, they make clear that biological processes alone do not make us male or female (Hollway et al, 2003).Then again biological sex is not central to explaining what it is to be man or a woman and can be unreliable in some cases, it does offer simple explanations which can be tested empirically.Likewise the evolutionary perspective, while adopting a scientific approach similar to biological theorists, cannot be subjected to empirical testing and therefore can operate only at the level of speculation. This is due to its reliance in part on the principles of reverse engineering in constructing theoretical models regarding the origins of human behaviour (Hollway et al, 2003).Moreover evolutionary psychologists argue that genetic make-up and behavioural predispositions between males and females evolved according to the process of sexual selection. (Phoenix, 2002). They believe that reproduction is the only way for an inherited characteristic to be passed on from one generation to the next and thus their primary focus on explaining gender differences is in terms of reproductive behaviour and sexual style.In accordance to this it was found that evolutionary psychologist's females generally devote more time and energy to the care of their offspring. As a result of this greater parental investment (Hollway et al, 2003) different patterns of behaviour between males and females developed. Therefore successful females in an attempt to maximise their reproductive success they are more concerned with selecting a mate that has good genes and is willing to invest in offspring.On the other hand, males devote more time and energy to finding and attracting mates and are more concerned with mating as many times as possible. Clark and Hatfield (1989, cited by Hollway et al, 2003) carried out a study in which they found that 75% of male students as oppose to no female students consented to having sex with the opposite sex. They interpreted these results as supporting the evolutionary theory that women and men evolved different strategies and consequently different behaviour, for reproductive success.So we can say that the biological and evolutionary approaches are similar in that they view sex as the foundation of gender;...

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