The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction

The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction

The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction

The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction

Synopsis

The authors introduce and explain traditional approaches to the study of sex and gender whilst acknowledging their weaknesses and exploring a range of alternative ways of tackling this extremely complex subject.

Excerpt

In terms of psychology textbooks, 'gender' and 'sexuality' are comparatively new kinds of language. Their use in psychology today reflects recent changes in the way that psychology is taught, studied, researched and practised. These changes include a growing sensitivity to the politics of the discipline, which has been prompted by inputs from critical and feminism-informed scholars. Many mainstream psychologists are strongly resistant to the idea that psychology has any engagement with politics. Psychology is generally assumed to be a science and, as such, outside of politics. But as you will see as you progress through this book, there are a number of movements both within and outwith psychology that have challenged this claim, notably feminism, social constructionism and postmodernism. Indeed, all of these movements pose an even more extensive challenge to science itself. They argue that science is profoundly political, not in a party politics sense, but in terms of the politics of power.

This concern with the politics of power has led to a fuller awareness of the reflexive relation between language, knowledge and power. This too has been a major stimulus to the introduction of gender and sexuality into psychology's domain. Both of these are areas of human experience and action in which language, knowledge and power are played out. To give just one example, this is how one psychologist began to open up the question of how language and gender are connected:

'man' and 'person' have been synonymous in Western, patriarchal
thought, as is evidenced by the use of the terms 'man', 'mankind',
and 'he/him' as universals. As women we can strive to be 'people'

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