In the Euro-American paradigm, the concept of sex, gender and sexuality is highly debated. The society simplifies the gender roles, and branches it out into two categories of: masculine and feminine. Humans learn from the societal norms to behave in ways appropriate to their sex, as it sees gender congruent to the sex of a person. The gender system in the society, seeks to put them in a hierarchical set up, where a man is on the top by default. In such a system, people are prescribed to take up the role of the gender they are assigned by the social system. Men are seen as aggressive, rational, dominant and objective beings who possess power, competency, efficiency and achievement. While women on the other hand are seen as passive, intuitive, submissive and subjective and value love, communication, beauty, and relationship.
The idea of dualism that one who appeals and the one with power makes it is easy to describe male- female as a set of opposite traits. In contemporary America, hegemonic masculinity is defined by the physical strength and bravado, exclusive heterosexuality, suppression of “vulnerable” emotions such as remorse and uncertainty, economic independence, authority over women and other men, and intense interest in sexual “conquest”. Masculinity is always seen as a form above femininity. Femininity is thus structured around that of masculinity. Its prime feature is its attractiveness to males, the suppression of “power” and emotions of anger, nurturing children, looking after the household. Masculinity and femininity are the social metaphors of male dominance and female suppression.
Woman’s unpaid works of being a home-maker is still devalued, and are prone to get sexually harassed and discriminated on the basis of the work done by women. Society expects men to dominate, and women to suppress, thus gender, significantly, is seen as socially and culturally constructed. There exists different ways in which men can be differentiated from women based on the dress code. However, a woman dressing like a man does not raise questions, as opposed to the male wearing skirts. Society disproves of elements which blur the line between a man and a woman, thus it creates as many distinctions as it can. Language also is seen as a differentiating factor between masculinity and femininity. The pronouns he/she, his/hers, him/her, only present the two extremes. Thus, by defining the two extremes, it implicitly states that they are opposites.
Gender is also seen a performance. People are raised to perform a “certain way”- a girl is raised to be more feminine, and be shy, while a boy is raised to be tough and more masculine. Thus, gender is seen as a social construct, depending on how the person is expected to behave. However, the performance cumulates and takes over the life of the individual, as they are expected to lead themselves in a way that conforms to the society. But, what is ignored is how it could have implications in a certain way that would lead the person into gender inequality- a girl raised up in a feminine way, is highly prone to getting discriminated based on the salary or looked down upon by the man.
Sex, defined as the biological characteristics that define a male and a female- hormones, gonads, genitalia, chromosomes, etc., is seen as a very congruent concept to the gender of a person. A person born with a penis is seen evidently as male, and a person born with a vagina, is classified as a female. People have tried to introduce theories and ideas so as to break the two-sex system.
The Euro- American paradigm for the intersex child elaborates on its genitals. If the phallus is between 0-1 centimeters, it is accepted as clitoris, and if it is between 3-5centimeters, it is accepted as the penis. However, a phallus ranging anywhere between 2-3 centimeters would account for the surgery. Anna Fausto- Sterling, mentions in her book, Sexing the Body, that if an infant is born with ambiguous genitalia, then the doctors work towards restoring them to “normal”. And also since it is fairly easy to construct a “hole” rather than a “pole”, a biologically born male’s penis is chopped off if it is too small. Thus, sex is also socially constructed, so as to be able to fit into the two binaries available to us.
Sexuality in the Euro-American society, does not always mean a male body sexually attracted to a female body. It is seen under three categories: heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. In the western culture, individual expression is given more importance and this exemplified in the movie Venus Boyz.
Venus boyz is the first documentary feature film that fosters visibility and new light on the issue of female masculinity in general, and of drag kings in particular. A legendary Drag King Night in New York is the point of departure for a journey to transgendered worlds, where women become men – some for a night, others for their whole lives. Women performance of masculinity has rarely been projected on TV, sitcoms, talk shows, or entertainment. Venus Boyz is highly influenced by the American society at large. The film’s main concerns are related to the problem of stable identity categories and its subversive effects on the so-called natural gender system.
* A gender construction. is how it spins the mystery of gender. * Social concept. * Gender identity. ‘Woman’, ‘man’, ‘masculinity’, ‘femininity’ and so on, are not fixed entities which necessarily comply with the correlative ‘sex/gender system’; rather, these notions form part of an ongoing process by which traditional identity categories can be contested and revisited. Western paradigm- woman are below men. Transgender see them as * Gender is a performance- stated in the film.
* Transgender. * Movie explores female masculinity raises questions about cultural constructions and perceptions of gender. * “I feel that everyone has a male, female, masculine, and feminine side, but not everyone chooses to explore the other side.” * Gender training. How to act like a man.- male stereotypes * Some of the ladies act out male identities as a way of channeling their male spirit, or creating a third gender other than “male” or “female”. They don’t necessarily identify with, or need to make themselves into men.
* biological characteristics that define a man and a woman. Hormones, genetelia, gonads.
* Girl talks about Feeling like a man.
* The woman with the wig- comes across very androgynous.
* Some women strap on dildos as part of their transformation; male-transgender workshop participants pass around a “faux penis” more supple than customary sex toys.
* Female sexuality linked to a woman’s hair, if shaved off, men no longer see that person as sexual. * Relationship between the sexes is on the way to very basic change. No longer concept of reproduction a fundamental aspect of sexuality. * Despie of dressing like a man, desires men, but does not identifies herself as androgynous.
Do you think they constitute a third sex and/or gender?
No, falls under the continuum of the two binaries.
Courtney from Study Moose
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