The Pros And Cons Of Sex And Gender

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“Sex” and “gender” exist as a manifestation of assigned cultural meanings, social organization and the power of politics, simultaneously form an intricate web of multiple disproportionate strands of difference that is charged with “multifaceted narratives of domination and struggle” (Haraway, 1990:140). According to Garfinkel (1976), sex is the socially agreed upon biological criteria for classifying a person as either male or female at birth, which becomes a significant factor in the collective transformation of bodies to fit physically and psychology into gendered ideals of masculinity and femininity.
In the case of intersexed bodies, where a person’s genitalia, reproductive organs, or chromosomal patterns do not match the accepted medical definition of male or female, physicians are generally able to provide medical intervention and (re)construct the “right genitals” to compliment successful socialization. Gender ambiguities are “curable” and can be “remedied” to conform to the “culturally indisputable gender dichotomy” (Kessler, 1990:24), where the process of gendering is governed by the law, religion, science discourse and societal expectations (Lorber, 1994:46).
Heteronormativity pervades all social institutions and regulates the gender
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In Western cultures, genital attribution constitutes gender attribution (Oyewumi, 1998:1056), which is the almost instantaneous process by which a person is able to successfully “classify” another person as either male or female. Because bodily genitals are not always in view, Kessler and McKenna developed the concept of “cultural genitals” –the genitals, and consequently gender, someone is assumed to have on the basis of hegemonic social and cultural codes of acceptable behaviours and appropriate physical appearances (Crawford,

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