Sex or Gender

Alan Pease, author of a book titled “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps”, believes that women are spatially-challenged compared to men. The British firm, Admiral Insurance, conducted a study of half a million claims. They found that “women were almost twice as likely as men to have a collision in a car park, 23 percent more likely to hit a stationary car, and 15 percent more likely to reverse into another vehicle” (Reuters).Yet gender “differences” are often the outcomes of bad scholarship. Consider Admiral insurance’s data. As Britain’s Automobile Association (AA) correctly pointed out – women drivers tend to make more short journeys around towns and shopping centers and these involve frequent parking. Hence their ubiquity in certain kinds of claims. Regarding women’s alleged spatial deficiency, in Britain, girls have been outperforming boys in scholastic aptitude tests – including geometry and maths – since 1988.On the other wing of the divide, Anthony Clare, a British psychiatrist and author of “On Men” wrote:”At the beginning of the 21st century it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that men are in serious trouble. Throughout the world, developed and developing, antisocial behavior is essentially male. Violence, sexual abuse of children, illicit drug use, alcohol misuse, gambling, all are overwhelmingly male activities. The courts and prisons bulge with men. When it comes to aggression, delinquent behavior, risk taking and social mayhem, men win gold.”Men also mature later, die earlier, are more susceptible to infections and most types of cancer, are more likely to be dyslexic, to suffer from a host of mental health disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and to commit suicide.In her book, “Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man”, Susan Faludi describes a crisis of masculinity following the breakdown of manhood models and work and family structures in the last five decades. In the film “Boys don’t Cry”, a teenage girl binds her breasts and acts the male in a caricatural relish of stereotypes of virility. Being a man is merely a state of mind, the movie implies.But what does it really mean to be a “male” or a “female”? Are gender identity and sexual preferences genetically determined? Can they be reduced to one’s sex? Or are they amalgams of biological, social, and psychological factors in constant interaction? Are they immutable lifelong features or dynamically evolving frames of self-reference?Certain traits attributed to one’s sex are surely better accounted for by cultural factors, the process of socialization, gender roles, and what George Devereux called “ethnopsychiatry” in “Basic Problems of Ethnopsychiatry” (University of Chicago Press, 1980). He suggested to divide the unconscious into the id (the part that was always instinctual and unconscious) and the “ethnic unconscious” (repressed material that was once conscious). The latter is mostly molded by prevailing cultural mores and includes all our defense mechanisms and most of the superego.So, how can we tell whether our sexual role is mostly in our blood or in our brains?The scrutiny of borderline cases of human sexuality – notably the transgendered or intersexed – can yield clues as to the distribution and relative weights of biological, social, and psychological determinants of gender identity formation.The results of a study conducted by Uwe Hartmann, Hinnerk Becker, and Claudia Rueffer-Hesse in 1997 and titled “Self and Gender: Narcissistic Pathology and Personality Factors in Gender Dysphoric Patients”, published in the “International Journal of Transgenderism”, “indicate significant psychopathological aspects and narcissistic dysregulation in a substantial proportion of patients.” Are these “psychopathological aspects” merely reactions to underlying physiological realities and changes? Could social ostracism and labeling have induced them in the “patients”?The authors conclude:”The cumulative evidence of our study … is consistent with the view that gender dysphoria is a disorder of the sense of self as has been proposed by Beitel (1985) or Pfäfflin (1993). The central problem in our patients is about identity and the self in general and the transsexual wish seems to be an attempt at reassuring and stabilizing the self-coherence which in turn can lead to a further destabilization if the self is already too fragile. In this view the body is instrumentalized to create a sense of identity and the splitting symbolized in the hiatus between the rejected body-self and other parts of the self is more between good and bad objects than between masculine and feminine.”Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, and Fliess suggested that we are all bisexual to a certain degree. As early as 1910, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld argued, in Berlin, that absolute genders are “abstractions, invented extremes”. The consensus today is that one’s sexuality is, mostly, a psychological construct which reflects gender role orientation.Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history at Indiana University and the editor of The Journal of American History observes, in her recently published tome, “How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States”, that the very meaning of masculinity and femininity is in constant flux.Transgender activists, says Meyerowitz, insist that gender and sexuality represent “distinct analytical categories”. The New York Times wrote in its review of the book: “Some male-to-female transsexuals have sex with men and call themselves homosexuals. Some female-to-male transsexuals have sex with women and call themselves lesbians. Some transsexuals call themselves asexual.”So, it is all in the mind, you see.This would be taking it too far. A large body of scientific evidence points to the genetic and biological underpinnings of sexual behavior and preferences.The German science magazine, “Geo”, reported recently that the males of the fruit fly “drosophila melanogaster” switched from heterosexuality to homosexuality as the temperature in the lab was increased from 19 to 30 degrees Celsius. They reverted to chasing females as it was lowered.The brain structures of homosexual sheep are different to those of straight sheep, a study conducted recently by the Oregon Health & Science University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, revealed. Similar differences were found between gay men and straight ones in 1995 in Holland and elsewhere. The preoptic area of the hypothalamus was larger in heterosexual men than in both homosexual men and straight women.According an article, titled “When Sexual Development Goes Awry”, by Suzanne Miller, published in the September 2000 issue of the “World and I”, various medical conditions give rise to sexual ambiguity. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), involving excessive androgen production by the adrenal cortex, results in mixed genitalia. A person with the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) has a vagina, external female genitalia and functioning, androgen-producing, testes – but no uterus or fallopian tubes.People with the rare 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome are born with ambiguous genitalia. They appear at first to be girls. At puberty, such a person develops testicles and his clitoris swells and becomes a penis. Hermaphrodites possess both ovaries and testicles (both, in most cases, rather undeveloped). Sometimes the ovaries and testicles are combined into a chimera called ovotestis.Most of these individuals have the chromosomal composition of a woman together with traces of the Y, male, chromosome. All hermaphrodites have a sizable penis, though rarely generate sperm. Some hermaphrodites develop breasts during puberty and menstruate. Very few even get pregnant and give birth.Anne Fausto-Sterling, a developmental geneticist, professor of medical science at Brown University, and author of “Sexing the Body”, postulated, in 1993, a continuum of 5 sexes to supplant the current dimorphism: males, merms (male pseudohermaphrodites), herms (true hermaphrodites), ferms (female pseudohermaphrodites), and females.Intersexuality (hermpahroditism) is a natural human state. We are all conceived with the potential to develop into either sex. The embryonic developmental default is female. A series of triggers during the first weeks of pregnancy places the fetus on the path to maleness.In rare cases, some women have a male’s genetic makeup (XY chromosomes) and vice versa. But, in the vast majority of cases, one of the sexes is clearly selected. Relics of the stifled sex remain, though. Women have the clitoris as a kind of symbolic penis. Men have breasts (mammary glands) and nipples.The Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 edition describes the formation of ovaries and testes thus:”In the young embryo a pair of gonads develop that are indifferent or neutral, showing no indication whether they are destined to develop into testes or ovaries. There are also two different duct systems, one of which can develop into the female system of oviducts and related apparatus and the other into the male sperm duct system. As development of the embryo proceeds, either the male or the female reproductive tissue differentiates in the originally neutral gonad of the mammal.”Yet, sexual preferences, genitalia and even secondary sex characteristics, such as facial and pubic hair are first order phenomena. Can genetics and biology account for male and female behavior patterns and social interactions (“gender identity”)? Can the multi-tiered complexity and richness of human masculinity and femininity arise from simpler, deterministic, building blocks?Sociobiologists would have us think so.For instance: the fact that we are mammals is astonishingly often overlooked. Most mammalian families are composed of mother and offspring. Males are peripatetic absentees. Arguably, high rates of divorce and birth out of wedlock coupled with rising promiscuity merely reinstate this natural “default mode”, observes Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. That three quarters of all divorces are initiated by women tends to support this view.Furthermore, gender identity is determined during gestation, claim some scholars.Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii and Dr. Keith Sigmundson, a practicing psychiatrist, studied the much-celebrated John/Joan case. An accidentally castrated normal male was surgically modified to look female, and raised as a girl but to no avail. He reverted to being a male at puberty.His gender identity seems to have been inborn (assuming he was not subjected to conflicting cues from his human environment). The case is extensively described in John Colapinto’s tome “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl”.HealthScoutNews cited a study published in the November 2002 issue of “Child Development”. The researchers, from City University of London, found that the level of maternal testosterone during pregnancy affects the behavior of neonatal girls and renders it more masculine. “High testosterone” girls “enjoy activities typically considered male behavior, like playing with trucks or guns”. Boys’ behavior remains unaltered, according to the study.Yet, other scholars, like John Money, insist that newborns are a “blank slate” as far as their gender identity is concerned. This is also the prevailing view. Gender and sex-role identities, we are taught, are fully formed in a process of socialization which ends by the third year of life. The Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 edition sums it up thus:”Like an individual’s concept of his or her sex role, gender identity develops by means of parental example, social reinforcement, and language. Parents teach sex-appropriate behavior to their children from an early age, and this behavior is reinforced as the child grows older and enters a wider social world. As the child acquires language, he also learns very early the distinction between “he” and “she” and understands which pertains to him- or herself.”So, which is it – nature or nurture? There is no disputing the fact that our sexual physiology and, in all probability, our sexual preferences are determined in the womb. Men and women are different – physiologically and, as a result, also psychologically.Society, through its agents – foremost amongst which are family, peers, and teachers – represses or encourages these genetic propensities. It does so by propagating “gender roles” – gender-specific lists of alleged traits, permissible behavior patterns, and prescriptive morals and norms. Our “gender identity” or “sex role” is shorthand for the way we make use of our natural genotypic-phenotypic endowments in conformity with social-cultural “gender roles”.Inevitably as the composition and bias of these lists change, so does the meaning of being “male” or “female”. Gender roles are constantly redefined by tectonic shifts in the definition and functioning of basic social units, such as the nuclear family and the workplace. The cross-fertilization of gender-related cultural memes renders “masculinity” and “femininity” fluid concepts.One’s sex equals one’s bodily equipment, an objective, finite, and, usually, immutable inventory. But our endowments can be put to many uses, in different cognitive and affective contexts, and subject to varying exegetic frameworks. As opposed to “sex” – “gender” is, therefore, a socio-cultural narrative. Both heterosexual and homosexual men ejaculate. Both straight and lesbian women climax. What distinguishes them from each other are subjective introjects of socio-cultural conventions, not objective, immutable “facts”.In “The New Gender Wars”, published in the November/December 2000 issue of “Psychology Today”, Sarah Blustain sums up the “bio-social” model proposed by Mice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and a former student of his, Wendy Wood, now a professor at the Texas A&M University:”Like (the evolutionary psychologists), Eagly and Wood reject social constructionist notions that all gender differences are created by culture. But to the question of where they come from, they answer differently: not our genes but our roles in society. This narrative focuses on how societies respond to the basic biological differences – men’s strength and women’s reproductive capabilities – and how they encourage men and women to follow certain patterns.’If you’re spending a lot of time nursing your kid’, explains Wood, ‘then you don’t have the opportunity to devote large amounts of time to developing specialized skills and engaging tasks outside of the home’. And, adds Eagly, ‘if women are charged with caring for infants, what happens is that women are more nurturing. Societies have to make the adult system work [so] socialization of girls is arranged to give them experience in nurturing’.According to this interpretation, as the environment changes, so will the range and texture of gender differences. At a time in Western countries when female reproduction is extremely low, nursing is totally optional, childcare alternatives are many, and mechanization lessens the importance of male size and strength, women are no longer restricted as much by their smaller size and by child-bearing. That means, argue Eagly and Wood, that role structures for men and women will change and, not surprisingly, the way we socialize people in these new roles will change too. (Indeed, says Wood, ‘sex differences seem to be reduced in societies where men and women have similar status,’ she says. If you’re looking to live in more gender-neutral environment, try Scandinavia.)”

Ballet For Adults – Your First Steps in Ballet Dancing

Many adults may have been asking about learning ballet and if they can start learning ballet even at adulthood. Of course, you do not have to feel that it is too late. There is indeed ballet for adults. You can still learn and enjoy ballet and still reap their benefits. Although you may find it difficult to pursue a professional career on ballet dancing, you may still enjoy the many benefits of this classical dance.Toning your muscles, achieving flexibility, correcting posture – these are great benefits you can gain from learning ballet, even in adulthood. Ballet for adults is also a good way to relieve stress, and if you really are a lover of classical dance and you never had the chance in your childhood days to learn it, it is never indeed too late to learn.Taking the first stepIt is not surprising to hear stories about adults who got on pointe in their 40s and loved their experience. You may see college students taking ballet classes, or professional women making ballet their stress reliever and many more who take ballet classes to keep their body flexible. Indeed, there are lots of adults who love to do ballet.Do not live your life asking yourself what it is like to put on that ballet slippers and dance. So go ahead. Find dance studios that may help you learn it. In fact, you may be surprised that many dance studios accept adult classes. You can also supplement your learning with instructional videos that may help you enjoy the activity even at home.Setting your GoalsIf you want to enroll in ballet for adults, it is wise to set your goals from the start. If you want to achieve flexibility, set goals that are achievable. If you want to do ballet for adults because you are determined to dance en pointe, you can set that as your goal. Most often, adults learn ballet for fitness reasons, so if you are thinking the same way, take time to set smaller achievable goals. This will also help your ballet instructor on how to guide you in achieving your goals.Dressing for your DanceMost adults are not comfortable with tights and leotards but it will help you perform well and give you that confidence in dancing. You can however wear it under your t-shirt or short and you will indeed feel the difference. Dance studios have dress codes for their students but for adult classes, it is, most often, not required.Mastering the BasicsIt is common to hear French terms in ballet and positions are often named in French, so if you want to have a good jumpstart with your dancing lessons, you can start by learning the names of the positions. Ballet also has five basic positions that would be your foundation in learning dance moves. You can also start familiarizing yourself with these positions, and for sure, it will give you the excitement to take your first day of ballet lessons.Ballet for adults is indeed a fulfilling experience. You may not become a ballerina overnight but you can achieve your goals for as long as you don’t give up. Enjoy your lessons, enjoy your moves and you will find great joy in achieving your goals in dancing.

Ways to Stimulate a Woman and Give Her Blistering HOT Sex

Terrific sex is an awesome experience which everybody enjoys. Women like sex just as much, if not more, than guys! This may go against what you believed you understood, but it’s accurate. But have you discovered of recent that your lovemaking has lost a little of it’s dazzle? Never stress or give up on it! There are a number of things which you can possibly do in order to restore it to its former glory and you can possibly be giving her leg rattling climaxes in no time!Firstly, right here are 6 excellent suggestions that will give you a running start in giving her the best sex she’s ever had.Tip #1.One particular cornerstone of incredible sex is establishing the scene and constructing an atmosphere around you. Pay very close attention to the sights and sounds about you. Maybe try fitting a few colored light blubs to offer the area a sexy backdrop. It has been found in studies that the color purple can accentuate a woman’s sexual climax. This is a really quick way to rev up her erotic energy. Whilst you are at it, why not play some tunes to provide a sound track to your session? Just before starting sex, women appreciate a moment of intimacy and affection. Try sipping on a couple of glasses of wine and listening to something hot and steamy on the CD player. Explore her body and locate her pleasure areas in front of a fire place if your have one.Tip #2.Take your time and do not hurry into sexual activity. This could be amongst the biggest mistakes you can make if you want to get your woman ABSOLUTELY turned on. Most of the time, a woman will take a little while to come around to the suggestion of sex and become aroused, where as a male can do the exact same thing in a heart beat. For many women, a sensual massage will get her motor running hot. This particular sort of massage, in contrast to a normal one, is one where you will concentrate more on her erotic zones. Take your time to find where these are. They can differ from woman to woman. Fun sex positions that have worked for a significant other previously might not work for your current lady. Be really seductive and attentive toward her and she will soon let you know when it’s time to take it to the next level.Tip #3.She is going to find sex a dull or boring affair if you are short of a little bit of creativity in the bedroom. Using your imagination, I bet you can think of some fun sex positions to try. While her body is not something you should look over, her mind is the most essential sex organ and the one that you must look to stimulate the most. Look directly into her eyes and adore her with your words and touch. She will be a lot more open to sex if your tickle her fancy a little. Something that can get her really hot is a bit of tasteful erotic literature. If you wish, you might like to try reading her a few pages from this adult material just before going off to bed. When you get there, she could have a little something more than sleep on her mind.Tip #4.You might have heard this one before, but I simply cannot stress enough how much women like being kissed by their lovers. It is something so crucial and basic but yet it seems to be neglected by a lot of men. Try some of these sexy moves on your girl if you want to sizzle up your sex life. Suck on an ice cube or sip on a cold beverage just before kissing her. This will get her hot in no time flat! Or perhaps try introducing some literal sweetness to a kiss by consuming strawberries or placing a small amount of honey in your mouth right before locking lips. It’s also essential not to forget to kiss her while in the act of having sex.Tip #5.Make it so that your actions appear to have a natural flow and rhythm. A very good way to find out what turns her on is to introduce a few sex toys into your foreplay. It will be a really excellent way for you to discover what turns her on and get in sync with her sexuality. If she owns a vibrator, you can learn a lot from her if you get her to show you how she uses it. Pay attention to the speed, angle and the sort of pressure that she uses to pleasure herself and then mimic these methods on her using your fingers, tongue or your penis!Tip #6.Probably the least interesting place that you can have sex is your bedroom. If you wish to spice up the whole sexual experience, sex furniture is a fantastic way to go. Sex furniture is generally very discreet and blends in well with the other things in your home. Unlike flat surfaces like a bed or a mattress, this kind of furniture is going to let you explore a broad range of positions that you ‘d have previously not thought achievable. You are a lot more likely to find fun sex positions which are going to stimulate her clitoris and g-spot in something like a sex swing as opposed to on a bed.You can really give her something to discuss with her friends if you try a few of these tips out. Females talk about sex with their girlfriends far more than men do, believe me. If you wish to really inject some spice into you love life, try out some of these techniques when things next get hot and heavy with your lover.