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Chapter 10: Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation

10.6 Test Your Knowledge

1. Sex refers to the anatomical and other biological differences between females and males, while gender is a social concept which refers to the social and cultural differences a society assigns to feminine and masculine characteristics based on biological sex. A third concept, sexual orientation, refers to a person’s preference for sexual relationships. While traditionally in the U.S., these categories have been perceived as binaries (male/female, masculine/feminine, heterosexual/homosexual), increasingly, each category is perceived as existing on a spectrum. Explain the difference between a binary and a spectrum and discuss how each of the three concepts above can be considered as a spectrum.

2. Outline the biological and cultural explanations for gender roles. Which do you think is most accurate?

3. If you were to apply the functional and conflict perspectives to the issue of gender inequality, how would they differ in their explanations of this issue?

4. The text describes different types of inequality women experience in everyday life and also discusses the costs and benefits of being male. What is meant by the ‘second shift’? What are some of the negative consequences of being a man in our society?

5. What percentage of women are in the labor force compared to men? What is the current pay gap and how has this changed since the 1980’s? What explanations exist to explain the pay gap between women and men?

6. Some of the sex discrimination in employment reflects the existence of the following phenomenon: the glass ceiling, glass escalator, the glass cliff and the triple burden. Explain each of these concepts and discuss how they contribute to economic inequality between women and men.

7. In addition to gender inequality, sexual orientation inequality is also pervasive in the U.S. and many countries around the world. What types of inequalities are faced by people related to sexual orientation and diversity of gender identity and expression?

8. In your textbook, there is a discussion of violence against women. Outline the rate of rape and sexual assault. What are the cultural beliefs and structural realities that help to explain sexual violence perpetrated against women? How can the rate of violence against women be reduced?

9. Feminism is the belief that women and men should have equal opportunities in economic, political, and social life. From this idea, a number of feminist social movements have emerged (1st Wave/Suffrage Movement, 2nd Wave Movement, 3rd Wave Movement, 4th Wave Movement), and four branches of feminism were founded. Outlne the goals and accomplishments of each of the waves of feminism.

10. Similar to women and racial-ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ population has experienced significant inequality and has been targeted for discrimination. What are some of discriminatory policies at the state and national levels that have resulted in inequality for this group? LGBTQ+ inequality has given rise to social activists working to bring about greater equality. Discuss some of the changes that have resulted from these efforts.


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Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean M. Ramirez; Suzanne Latham; Rudy G. Hernandez; and Alicia E. Juskewycz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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