Nevertheless, sex is biological and gender is behavioral. However, both of them are socially constructed, in the ideas of how society expects sex and gender are being performed. Although, sex is what a person is born with, through today’s technology, people had the option to have their sex changed, accordingly to what the person’s gender is. The essay, “Doing Gender” by Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman, claims that gender is performed at an early age. In the following example of a 55-month-old boy draws an extremely concrete insight of how society expects a certain sex should act.
A 55-month-old boy (D) was attempting to unfasten the clasp of a necklace when a preschool aide walked over to him. A: Do you want to put that on? D: No, Its for girls. A: You don’t have to be a girl to wear things around your neck. King wear things around their necks. You could pretend you’re a king. D: I’m not a king. I’m a boy. (Cahill 1986a, p. 176)(162-163)
Although the little boy has no idea what a king is, the first thing that came into his mind would be that he’s nothing else but a boy, and he should do what a boy does. These insights were built in a sense by the people that are surrounded him. For instance, what if no one around this 55-month-old boy would have told him that boys don’t wear things around their neck, would he put the necklace around his neck? The answer is unknown. For instance, if a person around this little boy told him that men should wear necklaces around their neck to show their power, then would he still refuse to put it on? I believe the answer is no, and he would put it on. However, I’m not trying to say that all boys would put it on. Gender is influenced by society, where these insights are embedded into people’s mind since they were young. With these ideas in mind, I believe the surroundings of a child can greatly affect the roles of their gender.
In the same way, Anne Fausto-Sterling, in “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough”, confirms that sex and gender are socially constructed, through an intersex person’s real life experiences. In the essay, Sterling point out an interview between the author of the book Gentlial Abnormalities, Hermaphroditism and Related Adernal Disease, Hugh H. Young and a hermaphrodite named Emma. In this interview Young suggested Emma to have her vagina removed and become a full man. However, Emma objects to this saying, “I don’t know about that because that’s my meal ticket. If you did that, I would have to quit my husband and go to work, so I think I’ll keep it and stay as I am. My husband supports me well, and even though I don’t have any sexual pleasure with him, I do have a lots with my girlfriends” (347).
In this example, we can analyze and come to a result that sex and gender are socially constructed. First of all, let’s take a close look into their conversation, and break it into lines. Emma says, “because that’s my meal ticket” in other words she says that her vagina is equal to a meal ticket. Therefore she needed to keep it because she does not want to go work. What if she’s the one who needed to support the family? Would she willing to get rid off his/her vagina or penis? The answer is unknown; once again, her gender is switching back and forth according to her social needs. One more thing, which gives us an idea as why sex and gender are socially constructed and not what you born with, is all based on a line where Emma says that “even though I don’t have any sexual pleasure with him, I do have a lot with my girlfriends”. It’s clearly stated that Emma is more attracted to women than men. At the same time, she had clearly given the idea to readers that as long as she is able to fit into the biological criteria for being a woman then she can be a woman whenever she wishes to. Similarly, she can be a man whenever she wishes to, too. We can simply conclude that sex and gender are socially constructed, which means that according to your social needs your sex and gender can be changed in particular situations.
A similar example that is given in the essay “Doing Gender” by Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman, “Garfinkel’s (1976, pp.118-40) case study of Agnes, a transsexual raised as a boy who adopted a female identity at age 17. underwent a sex reassignment operation several years later, demonstrates how gender is created through interaction and at the same time structure interaction” (154). In this particular example, it proved with the facts as why sex and gender are unstable, as long as that is what the person needed, they can have their sex changed to fit into their gender. Although, she’s not fully a female and doesn’t have the needs of naturally born female does; the idea that was presented here is that sex and gender are something that can be adjusted by environment and social needs.
Sex and gender are highly formed throughout social construction, in which people often view gender through the person’s dress, speech, and occupation, etc. (West and Zimmerman 150). On the contrary, fewer people would interest in a person’s genitals really are, because people usually prejudged on a person’s sex through their physical appearance and performance. Once again “Believing Is Seeing”, what you see is what you believe; commonly by viewing a particular person’s appearance and performance would help others to determine a person’s sex. Similarly, people often misinterpreted other’s sex through their physical appearance and performances (appearance and performance can be a lie). I conclude sex and gender are meaningless if everyone have the option to change their sex as they needed (as long as financing is not a problem). What if by getting rid off all these classifications, would there be less people having their sex changed? And would there be less discrimination between sexes? However, the answer is an unknown, since society has to separate people in different groups, people have to suffer for these unwanted classification, similarly if society does not view sex and gender as important as it is, then there would be less people have to suffer for their unwanted sex. The most important point of this is that society categorizing people into female and male would force people to have their sex change.
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