Exploring the Binaries: Sex vs. Gender
“NO WAY! THAT CAN’T BE!”
The audience was in an uproar as they had guessed the wrong gender of a woman, Danielle, on a recently aired episode of Maury: MAN or WOMAN. Danielle held many features that the audience characterized as a woman: the long, curly red hair, the “coke bottle” body, the model walk, the perfectly formed busty boobs and the flawless skin; however, Danielle, biologically, was a male. This uproar was prompted by the defilement of societal expectations that an individual’s biological sex should determine a fixed gendered behavior. In essence, Danielle was to be a Dan with expected man behavior and male genitalia. This, however, is a common misconception in society. Because gender and sex are often used interchangeably in society, the specific distinctions in their definitions are often overlooked; therefore, the important insight one can gain from looking beyond the binaries of female/male and woman/man are often disregarded. Gender is defined as a socially constructed and institutionalized difference between man and woman whereas someone’s sex is defined as something solely attributable to biological differences between female and male (keys, 1/3/11). Socially constructed, the gender of a woman is often portrayed as weak in strength, having the inability to develop reasoning skills, smaller brain size, and very emotional whereas a man is often portrayed as strong in strength, having the ability to think critically, large brain size, and are non-emotional. These classifications of woman/man were produced from the idea that the male body is katabolic, so they have the ability to expand energy in other areas, whereas the female body is anabolic, so they do not have enough energy and need to conserve what they have for menstruations and pregnancies (keys, 1/6/11). Sex is affected by the social construction of gender. In essence, if one possesses the gender characteristics of...
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