Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series)


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12.1. The Difference between Sex and Gender

He or she may procreate with a partner of the opposite sex, and may or may not appear to have an incongruous G-I1R at work and in other nonerotic, nonsexual contexts. Among primates, the sex-irreducible difference is that males impreg nate and females menstruate which also usually means ovulate , ges tate, and lactate. This division of reproductive labor holds throughout the diecious mammalian kingdom, but it does not invariably apply to diecious fishes.

In many diecious fish species, an individual spends part of its lifetime breeding as a male and part breeding as a female Chan, , or vice versa. Some may alternate, more than once, their capability to produce both eggs and sperms.

With each alternation is a concurrent capability of alternating the mating behavior of female and male. Both behavioral schemata are, by inference, on call in the brain and nervous system. The concept of a brain that has encoded in it both the male and female schemata of behavior is especially well illustrated in a parthen ogenetic species of whiptail lizard, Cnemidophorus uniparens, studied by Crews Being parthenogenetic, this species has no sex; all mem bers of the species are clones.

The clones hatch from eggs. When a lizard is in an ovulatory phase, it matches up with a nonovulatory clone, and together they simulate the behavior of mating seen in closely re lated diecious whiptail species.


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At a later phase, their roles may be reversed. Once science uncovers the secret of the hermaphroditic versatility of. Thus, one can envisage a future when the sex-irreducible G-I1R will no longer be fixed and irreducible, but, by a process equivalent to reverse embryogenesis, it will be sex reversible. That is, it may have its origin in the same hormones that in prenatal life program the dif ferentiation of the genitalia. This principle signifies that regardless of its chromosomal sex, the primary destiny of the fetus is to become Eve, not Adam. Adam re quires that something be added-namely, MIH Mullerian inhibiting hormone from the embryonic testes, to vestigiate the Mullerian ducts and prevent the growth of a uterus and fallopian tubes; and also tes tosterone, again from the testes, to induce development of the male organs.

If the testes fail to develop, a fetus will develop the genital morphol ogy of a female, minus ovaries. An obvious sex-derivative by-product of such a deandrogenized development in the human fetus is that the baby will grow up to urinate in the sitting position.

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The reverse may also occur, so that an excessively androgenized 46,XX fetus with ova ries is born with a fully formed penis and empty scrotum. When the latter condition is experimentally produced in animals, there is a species difference regarding the extent to which subsequent mating behavior will also be masculinized.

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The sheep has proved to be prepro. That is, the com plete repertoire of its adult mating behavior is preprogrammed pre natally by a sex-hormonal effect on the brain. A film from Edinburgh by Short and Clarke no date shows ewes impersonating rams at the first mating season.

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Their blood hormone levels at the time were nor mally female. They had been altered only in fetal life by the injection of testosterone into the pregnant mother. The timing was precisely cal culated so that it was too late for the external genital morphology to be masculinized, but not too late for the sexual brain to be masculinized. Thus, the animal was preprogrammed to behave like a ram when old enough for first mating-and to be responded to as a male rival by other rams.

This same hormonal-robot effect is not seen in primates. It is also. The terminology I have used for these sex-derivative aspects in human beings is that they are sex shared but threshold dimorphic. They are not dimorphic in the absolute sense of either male or female, but in the relative sense of being manifested with greater facility in one sex than the other. Paren talism is an example. Parentalism is sex shared insofar as it is exhibited by the father as well as the mother, but is threshold dimorphic insofar as an infant or child evokes it more readily and more frequently in the mother than the father.

For example, the sleeping mother is typically more sensitive to the stirrings of the neonate than is the sleeping fa ther. Nine Sex-Shared Threshold Dimorphisms To date, nine phyletically basic behavioral dispositions have been iso lated. Although they might appear as sexually dimorphic, they are ac tually sex shared and dimorphic only in either threshold or frequency of manifestation.


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  • With the advent of new research, the list may well need to be revised. First is kinetic energy expenditure, which, in its more vigorous, out door, athletic manifestations, is typically more readily elicited and prevalent in males than in females, even before males reach the post pubertal stage of being, on the average, taller, heavier, and more lean and muscular than females. Second is roaming and becoming familiar with or marking the boundaries of the roaming range. Whereas pheromonal odoriferous marking is characteristic of some small animals, in primates including humans vision takes the place of smell.

    The secretion of marker pher omones is largely under the regulation of male sex hormone and thus is more readily elicited in males than females. The extent of a sex dif ference in the threshold for visual marking in primates is still conjec tural. Third is competitive rivalry and assertiveness for a position in the dominance hierarchy of childhood, which is more readily elicited in boys than in girls.

    A position of dominance may be accorded an indi vidual without fighting or after a victory. Whereas fighting and aggres siveness per se are not sexually dimorphic, despite a widespread sci entific assumption that they are, sensitivity to eliciting stimuli may or may not be. An example of the latter is retaliation against a deserter or rival in love or friendship, which is not sex specific.

    Fourth is fighting off predators in defense of the troop and its terri tory, which, among primates, is typically more readily elicited in males than females.

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    Fifth is fighting in defense of the young, which is more readily elic ited in females than males. Females are more fiercely alert and respon sive to threats to their infants than, in general, are males. Sixth is a provision of a nest or safe place for the delivery, care, suckling, and retrieving of the young.

    This variable may be associated with a greater prevalence of domestic neatness in girls than in boys, as compared with the disarray that is the product of, among other things, vigorous kinetic energy expenditure. Seventh is parentalism, exclusive of delivery and suckling.

    Masculinity femininity: basic perspectives

    Eighth is sexual rehearsal play. Evidence from monkeys is that ju venile males elicit presentation responses in females, and juvenile fe males elicit mounting responses in males more readily than vice versa. The taboo on human juvenile sexual rehearsal play and on its scientific investigation prohibits a definitive generalization regarding boys and girls at the present time. Ninth is the possibility that the visual erotic image more readily elic its an initiating erotic response in males than in females, whereas the tactile stimulus more readily elicits a response in females.

    Here again, no definitive generalization can yet be made because of the effects of the erotic taboo and erotic stereotyping in our society. Sex-derivative roles are, by definition, not sex exclusive, but are sex shared or interchangeable. Statistically there is overlap, so that ex tremely masculinized people of either sex resemble one another more closely than do men at either end of the scale of masculinization-and, conversely, women. In fact, men find it a severe hardship to be forced by cuJtural tradition into an ultramacho sex-derivative role to a degree.

    To illustrate: fetal androgen has a sex irreducible effect in forming the male genitalia.

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    It has also a sex-deriv ative effect in setting thresholds for certain constituents of behavior that are manifested more prevalently, or with more facility, in the play of boys than in the play of girls. With puberty, androgen reasserts its sex-irreducible effect, although it can be attenuated or, by castration, interrupted.


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    • It governs the maturation of the male reproductive sys tem, and also the growth of bone, fatty tissue, and muscle in such a. Thus, in all the millennia prior to the modern age of industrial, farming, and domestic laborsaving devices, it made sense for societies to have a sex-based division of labor. This division of labor was, in ancient times, based on the greater mobility of the male as compared with the restricted mobility of the female while pregnant or breast-feeding. Women moved in closer prox imity to the home base than did men, and they were chiefly responsi ble for feeding not only their babies but all members of their troop.

      The men ranged more widely in hunting, fighting, and trading. This ancient system of the division of labor survived the partial equalization of the sexes made possible first by the domestication of animals of transport. It is surviving less well the mechanization of transport by land, sea, and air, the invention of automated and computerized labor saving devices, and the discovery of infant feeding formulas, prepared baby foods, and ready-to-eat meals for the family. The age-old division of labor has also been rendered anachronistic by the invention of contraception, which permits an abbreviated breed ing period.

      Fewer births are needed, because infant mortality is down, and a world already exploding with population needs a smaller next generation. Added to these population dynamics is the dramatic increase in lon gevity from an average age of 35 in to around 70 or older today. Adulthood begins earlier, with the age of puberty having lowered by 4 months per decade for a century and a half, or longer. These life-span changes mean that men and women have longer adult lives in which not to be enchained to the obligation of a sex-stereotyped division of labor in order to ensure that they will successfully launch a family in their formerly short life span.

      They have more years in which to do d fferent types of work. These tides of change that have set in motion the destereotyping of sex-adjunctive roles have also provoked a backlash. Most of the current feuding and political debate about equal rights for men and women rage around social, legal, and economic rights and restrictions of sex adjunctive work roles and play roles. Science has been drawn into this dispute. Funding for research on the psychology of sex differences, on closer scrutiny, turns out to be funding for research in -sex differences in work or play.

      The current fashion is to research these differences in terms of aggression, delin quency, emotionality, learning disability, space-form perception, verbal ability, mathematical ability, and homosexuality in relation to sex dif ferences in hormone levels, age of pubertal onset, and brain lateraliza tion. All too often, the hidden assumption behind such research is that. It is totally oblivious to the critical-period hypothesis and to the possibility that in some in stances that which is postnatally learned becomes permanently en coded in the brain.

      Sex-arbitrary roles pertain to issues of sex-divergent body language, ornamentation, grooming, clothing, and etiquette.

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      Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series) Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series)
      Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series) Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series)
      Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series) Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series)
      Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series) Masculinity Femininity: Basic Perspectives (Kinsey Institute Series)
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