Gender has been conceptualized by various authors as "the socially constructed roles associated with each sex" as "what culture makes out of the `raw material of biological sex” and as "nonphysiological aspects of being female or male--the cultural expectations for femininity and masculinity". To clarify their use of the term gender many authors contrast it with the term sex. For example Rosenblum and Travis (2003) described sex as referring "to females and males--that is to chromosomal hormonal anatomical and physiological differences" and described gender as referring to "the culturally and historically specific acting out of `masculinity and `femininity". The articles in this issue reflect the cultural context of gender and sexuality. For example Tolman Striepe and Harmon describe their endeavor into developing a model of sexual health for adolescent girls. Consistent with the emphasis on culture in the above definitions of gender their model includes not only variables at the level of the individual girl (e.g. does she have knowledge about sexual health is she aware of her own values) but also at three levels of contextual variables: variables at the personal relationship level (e.g. is she able to communicate with her partner about sexuality) the social relationships level (e.g. does she get social and emotional support from her family and peers) and the cultural level (e.g. does she have access to comprehensive sex education). The collection of articles in this special issue address gender and sexuality at all these levels. (excerpt)

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