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Second lecture

Course Code
Jennifer Jackson

of 2
Male and female
Sexual dimorphism
Sex and gender 1920s - M. Mead
1960s-1980s - A. Meigs
1990s - G. Herdt
D. Kulick
Sex and gender and sexuality
What it means to be male and female - ideas and roles
Varies between societies
Because of the variation, it is not driven by physiology
We act human in extremely different ways when it comes to being female or male
What comes naturally to us may not come naturally to any other person
Sex refers to the anatomical or biological differences between male and female
Gender is the cultural or social elaboration of those differences
Mead one of the first to write about sex vs gender - made the distinction conceptually
Sex - biological bedrock
Gender - elaboration of inevitable biological facts (malleable, and can be changed)
Gender changes from culture to culture
Interested in delinking the differences - argue against biological reductionist
explanations in American society in 1920s
Against the idea that there is something within us that makes us who we are
Male and female weren't explicable in terms of biology
Wrote about Simoa - growth transition was relatively easy (no trouble teenage years,
no emotional stress, no rebellion)
Contrasted with American society
Wanted to show that what it takes to become a woman is not natural
Claiming that these things have to be culturally determined because we do have the
same physiology, the only difference is the cultural context
Scientists in 1960s were trying to do the same things as Mead
We cannot understand these things by looking at our physiological selves
During the time, there was the sexual revolution, civil rights movements, etc.
Questioning about what kind of world we want to live in, what world we do live in, and
how to create a better world
Feminists raised issues about gender inequalities - pay, work (given or allowed)
Women were not exploited or subordinated in similar ways - why?
We are not born to be who we are
Are there logical requirements of men and women?
Because men and women live differently around the world, it does not follow logically
that we have to do something the same way - gender behaviours were a consequence
of culture
Biology not destiny
Genders are not predictable based on sex
Multiple genders can be built on two sexes
Genders can be infinite - decision is for society to make
All dual sexed beings but we have many different cultural elaborations of those
Because of this weird possibility of multiple genders, there is no simple relationship
between sex and gender
Most of what is significant of being male and female is the matter of culture and not
nature - culturally specific
Complicated relationship
No biological bottom-line - everything is culturally constructed
Highland, New Guinea - organs are seen as male and female - they don't care about
the sex organs, they look at what people do in their everyday lives - these things
determine what gender the person is
Don't focus on genitalia - see gender as constantly in motion - question of degree
rather than kind
Sex is a cultural construct - in flux - overrides understanding of physiology or biology
Gender should be seen as a process rather than a category
Gender created through everyday actions
Sexuality draws attention to the performative aspect
Gender is not what one is, but what one does
Travestis - transgendered prostitutes
What makes someone 'homosexual'?
Extent to which gender is flexible, unstable and up for grabs - that gender can be
We all know what it means to be man and woman, but what we know is certainly not
the bottom-line
We have very different ways of performing our masculinity and femininity
Culture will tell us more on what it means to be male or female