Sunday, February 13, 2011

Follow Up: “Dueling Dualisms” and “The Sexe which Prevaileth”

“Dueling Dualisms”
The first chapter of Fausto-Sterling’s book Sexing the Body gives a basic overview of what society thinks of sex. Society views gender as just a physical attribute. Before coming to Colgate I agreed that sex was defined by your physical appearance, but now I think there is more to it. During orientation at Colgate, the entire freshmen class attended a program called “In Their Shoes” in which older students at Colgate gave speeches about themselves and being a Colgate. One student talked about his sex change. It really made me think of how hard it would be to live like that. He talked about how bathrooms were hell for him. It kind of fits in to what Fausto-Sterling writes about nature vs. nurture. It seems that gender is not just defined by what nature assigns to you, but that nurture also plays a part in it. I also think that it is possible to have the physical attributes of one sex, but to feel more comfortable as another. I think that society should try to become more accepting of people who are transgender. It is not something to be ashamed about, and I think it would be very hard to not feel accepted as you are. In a way it is almost like how some people view homosexuality. Just because you do not fit into some people’s view of whom you should love, it does not make it any less beautiful that you are in love.

“The Sexe Which Prevails”
Fausto-Sterling writes about how society considers there to be only two sexes. When you are born, you are either male or female, even though biologically you can be more. She discusses hermaphrodite history, and how this is evidence that there are not only two genders. I took an Anthropology class last semester and we read a book that discussed gender. The book talked about how gender is more about personality than we realize. The author believed that the brain is what controlled gender. Physical attributes may not necessarily assign you a gender. There are not only two sexes, rather there is a wide spectrum of sex and people fall in various places on that spectrum. Fausto-Sterling also discusses how doctors can now assign a sex to a baby at birth. I think this presents an interesting dilemma. Do you choose the sex of your baby and then not tell them? If you do not tell them you could have chosen wrong, and your child might not feel comfortable in their body. On the other hand if you tell your child, it might confuse them and make them feel different. There is also the option of allowing your child to choose what they want to do once they have grown up a little, but this also presents problems too. I am not sure what I exactly think of this situation, because there are a lot different things to consider. I agree with Fausto-Sterling that when doctors do surgery to make the child more male or female, it does emphasize how our society sees only two sexes.

8 comments:

  1. I agree with Molly that deciding what to do with an intersex child is a really hard dilemma. When I was reading this and whenever I see a show on Oprah about this topic, I always wonder what I would do if I ever had a child who was not decidedly male or female. I think one of the most important things is that that the parents need to be very supportive of their child and help them deal with their life situation as best as they can. This book also made me realize how lucky I am for never having to question whether or not I am a girl. It also made me wonder what percentage of the population has ambiguous sex? Thats something that we may never know because it is such a private subject.

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