SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS
Secondary sexual characteristics are characteristics that
are sex related but are not directly connected with the physiology of reproduction (the
sex organs). The body image depends a good deal on the secondary sexual characteristics.
Statistically, men tend to be heavier with more muscle
mass and physical strength than women although there are some women heavier, more muscular
and stronger than some men. Darwin did not limit his discussion of sex differences in
variability to obviously secondary sexual characteristics.
Of humans he suggested that "the numerous
measurements of various other races with respect to stature, the circumference of the neck
and chest, and the length of the back-bone and arms, which were carefully made, nearly all
showed that the males differed much more from each other than did the females." He
also discussed studies in which various abnormalities, such as supernumerary digits,
occurred more frequently in men, noting that the data might be biased if women were more
likely to conceal such effects.
Darwin wrote of "the frequent and extraordinary
amount of variability presented by secondary sexual characters" of males and he
concluded from his studies of domesticated animals that "the male is more liable to
vary than the female." He reasoned that "all these contingencies are highly
favorable for sexual selection."
"Human female breasts are secondary sexual
characteristics that evolved to attract mates. - Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape, 1967).
An imbalance of maternal hormonal levels and some
chemicals may alter the secondary sexual characteristics of fetuses.
Ellis, H. 1894. Man and woman: A study of human secondary
sexual characteristics. Walter Scott, London.
The Psychological Significance of
Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Nine- to Eleven-Year-Old Girls. -
Brooks-Gunn, J.; Warren, Michelle P. - Child Development, v59 n4 p1061-69 Aug
Abstract: Studied the onset of puberty in girls aged nine to eleven as represented by
breast, pubic hair growth, and height. Breast growth, but not pubic hair growth was
associated with a positive body image, positive peer relationships, and superior
adjustment. Height was linked to superior adjustment and rating of career as important.
Beyond Gender-Specific Intervention: Theory-driven Praxis - by Laurie
Extract: In sociology, "sex" and "gender" are distinguished in
theoretical discussion. "Sex" is used to describe the biological, physiological
differences between boys/men and girls/women, although even these binary categories are
now under serious challenge. Some of the biological or physiological characterizations
utilized to differentiate among "sexes" are presence of mammary glands and
breasts, uterus, ovaries, vaginas, testicles, penises and the like, as well as what are
sometimes called secondary sexual characteristics, such as amount of facial hair, pitch of
voice, size of "Adam's apple," and such. "Gender" is the term many
social scientists deploy to describe the practices, behaviors, attitudes, representations,
and portrayals of masculinity and femininity. While debates continue regarding the
interchanging of the terms sex and gender, all agree that what is at stake is the meanings
and social significance of having differing physiological characteristics.
Sexual maturation in Turkish girls - Neyzi, Olcay; Alp, Hülya;
Source: Annals of Human Biology, Volume 2, Number 1, Number 1/January 1975.
Abstract: The time intervals from onset to completion of secondary sexual characteristics
were comparable to those reported for European girls for pubic and axillary hair
development, but relatively longer for the development of the breast. They differed little
between the socioeconomic classes.
Onset of secondary sexual characteristics and of menarche in the highest socioeconomic
class were early as compared to other population groups. Mean ages of attainment for the
initial stage of breast, pubic hair and axillary hair development were 9·8, 10·4 and
10·8 years respectively in this group. Mean menarcheal age was 12·36 ± 0·01 years.
Sexual precocity in girls. An association with sexual abuse?
Herman-Giddens ME, Sandler AD, Friedman NE. - Child Protection Team, Duke University
Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.
Am J Dis Child. 1988 Apr;142(4):431-3.
The development of secondary sexual characteristics before 8 years of age in girls is
uncommon and little is known of its epidemiology. In a retrospective study of a population
of 105 girls 10 years old and younger who were victims of confirmed or suspected sexual
abuse, we found a one in 15 prevalence of early development (before 8 years of age) of one
or more secondary sexual characteristics. We speculate on possible associations between
early development of secondary sexual characteristics and sexual abuse. The data suggest
that further research explore this possible association.
A study of developmental order of secondary sexual characteristics in Beijing
girls. (Article in Chinese) - Li JJ., Haidian Health and Epidemic Prevention
Station, Beijing. - Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1991 Jan;25(1):23-5.
A six-year (1980-1986) study of the developmental status of the secondary sexual
characteristics was made among 937 girls in Beijing. The mean age of the first appearance
of the secondary sexual characteristics was measured. The individual variation was very
Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Boys
Estimates From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1988-1994
Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, PA, MPH, DrPH; Lily Wang, MS; Gary Koch, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155:1022-1028.
Background Descriptive data on pubertal stages for a representative population of racially
and ethnically diverse boys in the United States have not been published to our knowledge.