The teaching of courses in the 1960's, was careful to distinguish between gender and sex. Scholars defined sex as the biological anatomy of hormones and physiology. Gender, on the other hand, was the status achieved through cultural, psychological and social means. Such categorization shows how the relationship between cultural and biological processes are complex. Specific structural arrangements like a mother giving birth, enable capacities associated with biology. Philosophers in the 19th century thought that only one sex existed, and they asserted that the female genitalia was the inverted version of the male genitalia. That the womb and vagina was the scrotum and penis turned inside out. Western thinkers sometimes see men and women as two different species with different physical features. According to West & Zimmerman(1987), gender is the doing of the society, where the competence of members is hostage to the production. Therefore, defining gender is determined by interactional, perceptual and political activities which cast particular pursuits of masculine or feminine natures.
The inside-out mapping of bodies has not changed over the years; however, the justification for inequality has changed. If one socially takes a look at the position of men and women, natural law determined how they are placed depending on God-given physical features. Empirical knowledge replaced faith in the determination of social order when scientists questioned the divine basis for social order. Women had wombs and menstruated, hence made them very different from men; therefore, these destined women for different anatomy to that of men (Fausto-Sterling, 2000).
The society is made up of two classes of people, the man, and woman, who are discrete and distinguishable based on their attributes (Laqueur,1992). The social constructs create categories which uncover the ideologies and differences in the classes, from males to females, and heterosexuals.
Looking at men and women, they have many features alike except for the hormones and organs. Additionally, the genitalia develops from the same fetal tissue which causes infants at times to have ambiguous organs. When researchers interview pediatrics on sexual intersexuality, they say that an infant with abnormal genitalia with both XXY chromosomes is categorized as male or female depending on the size of the penis, if too small, they are a girl. During the 19th century, the absence of the womb was a determining factor for hermaphrodites, where, lack of the organ meant a woman was not able to procreate, hence incomplete.
West and Zimmerman (1987) suggest that gender is an accomplishment from new features of social interactions leading to various rationales we see for social arrangements legitimizing the divisions in the society. They look at the sociologist's gender views as well as the conventional treatment as the enactment of roles. The gender displays and gender roles focus on behavioral aspects of women and men as opposed to the differences in their biology. They assert that gender being a display relegates it to the periphery of interaction while gender as a role obscures work involved in producing gender activities. They suggest deciding the onset, whereby gender, sex and sex category is distinguishable from the start. Sex is determinable through the biological criteria, where one categorizes a people's gender into female and males. This classification happens at birth using genitalia, but sometimes, as is the case of heterosexuals, genitalia fails to offer a direct path. In such cases, doctors can use the chromosomes to determine the child's gender. The criteria mentioned is applicable when the child is too young to decide on their sexual orientation; however, categorization depends on socially identifiable details required to proclaim membership in one or both categories. Sex category presumes that sex is a proxy for many situations but sex category is independently variable and one can claim the gender without meeting the criteria. Gender represents conduct in the light of certain conceptions, activities or attitudes appropriate for a particular sex category (West & Zimmerman, 1987).
According to Lorber (1993), sex or gender are not neat categories. She asserts that a combination of incongruous genes, hormonal input and genes are ignored in the categorization of sex. It is also similar to the construction of gender status, where appearance, sexuality, identity, and physiology get ignored. She further asserts that gestation, menstruation, and lactation do not distinguish men from women. Some women stopped menstruating; others reached menopause, others have had vasectomies and others cannot give birth. These factors do not render them lessor women.
The conventional science categories have long questioned social categorization. When deconstructing sex, gender and sexual categories reveal many possibilities of social practices and experience. The new groups, if compared without consideration of who one is, can lead to re-grouping of other different categories. Such research taking a different approach based on other perspectives can lead to re-grouping (Legato & Bilezikian, 2004). Discovering the differences and similarities of people behavior as opposed to finding the difference between males and females is more efficient. Therefore, more often than not, gender is the dominant device that is used to limit people behaviors rather than having it the other way round. Sex, on the other hand, is only based on the psychological and biological compositions which bring the particular difference. For one to be able to define who a man or a woman is, it depends on the categorization one uses, whether biological or behavioral roles. The definition may vary from one person to the other depending on the factors discussed. Regardless, I determine a person's gender on the biological compositions and the chromosomes for that particular gender because when it comes to behavior, there is no universally accepted male and female behavior (Kimura, 1992).
Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000). Sexing the body: Gender politics and the construction of sexuality. Basic Books.
Kimura, D. (1992). Sex differences in the brain. Scientific American, 267(3), 118-125.
Laqueur, T. W. (1992). Making sex: Body and gender from the Greeks to Freud. Harvard University Press.
Legato, M. J., & Bilezikian, J. P. (Eds.). (2004). Principles of gender-specific medicine (Vol. 2). Gulf Professional Publishing.
Lorber, J. (1993). Believing is seeing: Biology as ideology. Gender & Society, 7(4), 568-581.
Trouble, G. (1990). Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & society, 1(2), 125-151.
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