Anne Fausto-Sterling's "The Five Sexes"

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Exploring the Social Standards of Sex and Gender

There are several sources that tell a person how to be a man or woman. Science tells us by recognizing the X or Y chromosomes. The media shows us through the physically ideal celebrities that grace the covers of magazines and flaunt their bodies in commercials. Sports, wrestling, cars, and blue for the boys. Dresses, make-up, painted nails, and pink for the girls. All of these sources, as well as others, have evolved into an expectation that has become institutionalized within society. This expectation, is placement and belonging into the binary system of person: the man or the woman. In Anne Fausot-Sterling's acrticles “The Five Sexes” and the “The Five Sexes, Revisited”, the binary system is exposed as being faulted. The author explores the harsh physical and psychological costs that come with the conforming to social standards. In order to understand this phenomena, an explanation of the “ideal” body, and how that is determined is needed. Also, an explanation of any deviation to what is “ideal”, and how those people are treated, are important in understanding society's standards of sex and gender.  

Fausto-Sterling explains the ideal make-up of a man and a woman. “Males have an X and a Y chromosome, testes, a penis and all of the appropriate internal plumbing for delivering urine and semen to the outside world. They also have well-known secondary sexual characteristics, including a muscular build and facial hair. Women have two X chromosomes, ovaries, all of the internal plumbing to transport urine and ova to the outside world, a system to support pregnancy and fetal development...”. (“The Five Sexes, Revisited” 2). In the idealized world, Fausto-Sterling points out how human beings are a “dimorphic species”, that is, two kinds. Science takes into account the biological DNA sequence of chromosomes to determine male or female. The genitalia of a person, his/her biological parts, are the...
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