Theories of Gender
It's not just what we inherit from our mothers and fathers that haunts us. It's all kinds of old defunct theories, all sorts of old defunct beliefs…. It's not that they actually live on in us; they are simply lodged there, and we cannot get rid of them.
It is time to turn to theories of gender. But before examining specific theories, let's first consider the general sorts of explanations that the most common theories of gender use to explain the behavior of men and women.
Theories of gender generally focus on four different levels of explanation: (a) group-level factors, (b) past biological and social-environmental factors, (c) current biological and social-environmental factors, and (d) traits residing within the individual (see Fig. 3.1). The group level (Level 1) of analysis considers you as a member of a group—either a biological group (e.g., people with XX chromosomes) or a cultural group (e.g., Latinas, members of the middle class, Southern Baptists, the social categories of “female” and “male”). Group-level processes include biological and cultural evolution, which respectively shape the characteristics of biological groups (such as species and the two biological sexes) and cultural groups (religious groups, ethnic groups, the socially defined categories of “male” and “female”).