• “As an anthropologist, I am intrigued by the possibility that culture shapes
how biological scientists describe what they discover about the natural world.
If this were so, we would be learning about more than the natural world in
high school biology class; we would be learning about cultural beliefs and
practices as if they were part of nature … The picture of egg and sperm
drawn in popular as well as scientific accounts of reproductive biology relies
on stereotypes central to our cultural definitions of male and female” (Martin
• When reading a biology book, you are learning about your cultural beliefs
when biology books are supposed to teach you about the natural words.
• In a biology book, you are leaning about cultural beliefs and practices as if
they were a part of nature
• Gender: a cultural construct of biological sex. values, norms and attitudes
that define what it is to be a men/women in a specific culture.
• Sex: biological characterization based primarily on reproductive potential
• Common argument: Sex causes Gender. Or Gender is a natural to extension
of sex/who we are biologically
• But not everyone is clearly born as a male/female. 1/100 babies are neither
male nor female cuz of chromosomal, hormonal or genital issues
• If a baby boy has really small penis or a female has a really large clitoris, they
are considered abnormal in Western science and usually undergo surgery.
• Strict distinction between male/female in Western culture
• Ideas about gender influence what we think a man/woman is naturally
• Naturalization“What we are seeing is the importation of cultural ideas
about passive females and heroic males into the “personalities” of gametes.
This amounts to the implanting of social imagery on representations of
nature so as to lay a firm basis for re-importing exactly that same
imagery as natural explanations of social phenomena (1991: 500).
Scientists use a particular language influences by gender cultural
constructs and portray that the sperm portrays the egg when that’s actually not scientifically true. Reinforces that males are active and females are
passive in a male/female relation.
• The sperm receives the egg’s molecules. So sperm=receptor according to the
regular biological language. Men are usually not the passive receptors and
females are usually not the active ones. They didn’t like they didn’t want the
sperm to be called the receptor so they created a new term for this process
so the sperm wouldn’t have to be called the receptor
• Naturalization: things that are produced by culture and the meanings we
attached to these things (like what it is to be a man and a woman) are
represented as if they are a natural and not created by culture. i.e it’s
natural for a sperm to be active, strong, masculine, productive and it’s
natural for female egg to be passive and wasteful. In reality, the male sperm
is surprisingly weak and it’s the egg that draws in the sperm (rather than
sperm penetrating the egg).
• Isn’t it amazing how males produce millions of sperms every day. Whereas
the women’s monthly cycle, which causes women to lose their eggs, is
considered wasteful. Why isn’t the male’s production of sperms not
considered wasteful when h produces millions of sperms and only 2 or 3