Gender vs. Sex

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Women's Studies
WST 100
Alicia Woodbury

Sex and gender have specific, and separate, meanings Gender: Man v Woman Sex “refers to the two biologically differentiated categories to male and female.” (Weitz, et al. 2011). - Ascribed status Determining if someone is male or female at birth is based on different criteria in Western medicine: - Reproductive organs - Chromosomes - Body types – shoulders, breasts, etc. 1 in 100 people’s bodies are not clearly male or female according to the medical community’s guidelines At times, members of medical community make a joint decision Intersex: Bodies that do not neatly fit into the the culturally accepted categories of sex - XXY - Androgen insensitivity - Penis length (Baby girls born with extended labia and were sometimes surgically acted upon, often without asking for permission. Done because it was considered a burden on parents) Sexing the Body, Ann Foster-Sterling - Intersex is a catch-all for 3 major subgroups with some mixture of female and male characteristics: o True hermaphrodites (combo) o Male pseudo-hermaphrodites (male internal organs, etc, but female organ) o Female pseudo-hermaphrodites (female internal organs, ovaries, but penis) Stigma: Culture not welcoming of people who do not fit into one sex category or another Why are we obsessed with understanding someone’s sex? - In our culture, we assume sex is same as gender Gender: The normative dispositions, behaviors and roles that cultures assign to each sex - Achieved status We often think of gender as binary and that its tied to biology. Not t
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