The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction

By Wendy Stainton Rogers; Rex Stainton Rogers | Go to book overview

1
Biological
paradigms

Many studies have shown that there is a marked difference in how well
men and women register and remember details, and to a man dust on a
shelf or a scum ring around a bath are just that – details. Even if he does
notice them, he may simply not accord them the importance a woman
does. To her dirt is offensive, to him it is part of the natural world. From
very early childhood males have a greater tolerance for, and even liking
for dirt. What a man perceives as 'clean' a woman might find dirty, and
what he finds merely 'dirty' she might find utterly disgusting. His sense of
smell is different too; the stale socks and sweaty shirt don't bother him
because they are among the pheromone-related smells that women are
acutely aware of but men simply do not detect.

(Moir and Moir 1998: 252)

Recently, biological explanations of the differences between the way men and women act and see the world have become hugely popular. They argue – often very convincingly – that the reason why men are more promiscuous than women, and why men are more aggressive and win more Nobel prizes, is that their biology is different. In this book we directly challenge such biological explanations of people's social behaviour, and ask why, just now, they have such appeal. Before we can do that, though, we need to 'begin at the beginning' by seeing what biological explanations do have to tell us about sex, sexuality and gender – in particular about some of the differences between the sexes. This is what we will be doing in this chapter.


Psychology, the bio-social science?

From its beginning, psychology has differed from the other social sciences in taking many of its ideas and theories directly from natural science,

-11-

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The Psychology of Gender and Sexuality: An Introduction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Mainstream Psychological Approaches to Gender and Sexuality 9
  • 1: Biological Paradigms 11
  • 2: Social and Cultural Paradigms 37
  • 3: Interactive Paradigms 60
  • Part II - The Challenges to Mainstream Approaches 83
  • Introduction to Part II: Challenges 85
  • 4: Liberatory Challenges 93
  • 5: Feminist Challenges 120
  • 6: Postmodern Challenges 158
  • Part III - Applications of a Critical Approach 183
  • 7: Where's the Action? 185
  • 8: Aliens and Others 200
  • 9: Bodies 212
  • 10: Sex Crimes 229
  • 11: New Men, New Women, New Relationships? 242
  • Glossary 258
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 295
  • Health Psychology 306
  • Approaches to Psychology: 3rd Edition 307
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