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Evaluate two perspectives on the psychology of sex and gender. What can these perspectives tell us about what it is to be a man or a woman?

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Introduction

Evaluate two perspectives on the psychology of sex and gender. What can these perspectives tell us about what it is to be a man or a woman? The notion of what it is to be a man or woman is a hugely difficult subject to pin. There is a multitude of research into the differences between the sexes, some of which is demonstrated here in this essay. Biological accounts of what it is to be a man or woman present the biological evidence; characteristics such as the biochemistry involved (genes, hormones or molecules) and the imaging studies which have shown differences the brains of men and women. With all this taken into account, the social constructionist perspective uses the discourses created about masculinity and femininity within society, and how individuals create their own gender through experience. This essay favours the biological perspective; being descriptive in its prose. The first section focuses on the physical aspects of what it is to be a man or woman. This is further developed in the next section by discussing the discourse generated within society. Other areas which are explored are the cognitive differences between boys and girls, and the notion of masculinity and femininity. ...read more.

Middle

For example: research into masculinity in schools by observation and discourse analysis, suggest two themes, one of which is ...`masculine identities are constructed through power relations...partly produced by having control over others, access to resources of some kind, or special social status or practices that others do not have. (Wetherell, 1996). To support this notion Francis (1997, 1998) observed school children (aged 7 to 11 years) in imaginary play. Francis found that children played in gender typical roles; boys took on typically masculine roles and the girls took ok typically feminine roles. `Francis interprets the children` s constructions of oppositional gender roles to be part of a process of identity maintenance. ` (Gove and Watt, 2004) Money and Erhardt (1972) conducted a study of differences in behaviour and cognitive skills between boys and girls. They looked for a correlation between the effects of progestin on girls and if they were more masculinized than other girls whom had not been subjected to progestin. The things they looked for ranged from, whether they played with boys or girls toys, acted in tomboyish ways and what sort of clothes they wore (it is important to take into consideration the context of what it is to be boyish or girlish, it is open to interpretation and can be different amongst cultures). ...read more.

Conclusion

and Erhardt, A.A. (1974) `Pre - natal androgen, intelligence and cognitive sex differences`, in Friedman, R.C., Richart, R.M. and van Deeds, R.L. (eds) Sex Differences in Behaviour; New York, Wiley. Cooke, B., Hegstrom, C.D., Villeneuve, L.S. Breedlove, S.M. (1998) `Sexual differentiation of the vertebrate brain: principles and mechanisms`, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, vol.19, pp. 323 - 26. Francis, B. (1997) `Power plays: children` s constructions of gender and power in role plays`, Gender and Education, vol.9, pp. 179 - 91. Francis, B. (198) ` Oppositional positions: children` s construction of gender in talk and role plays based on adult occupation`, Education Research, vol. 40, no.1, pp.31 - 43. Gove and Watt (2004) cited in Holloway, W., Cooper, T., Johnston, A. and Stevens, R. (2003) in Cooper, T. and Roth, L. (eds) Challenging Psychological Issues; The Open University, The Bath Press, Bath Hofman, M.A. and Swaab, D.F. (1991) `Sexual dimorphism of the human brain - myth and reality`, Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology, vol.98, pp.161 - 70. Holloway, W., Cooper, T., Johnston, A. and Stevens, R. (2003) in Cooper, T. and Roth, L. (eds) Challenging Psychological Issues; The Open University, The Bath Press, Bath. Holloway, W., Cooper, T., Johnston, A. and Stevens, R. (2003) in Cooper, T. and Roth, L. (eds) Challenging Psychological Issues; The Open University, The Bath Press, Bath Kimura, D. (1992) `Sex differences in the brain`, Scientific American, September, pp. 81 - 7. ...read more.

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