We commonly differentiate ‘sex’ as biological identity, from ‘gender,’ which is the cultural, social, and psychological differences between males and females. Gender then refers to the patterns we associate with men and women in a cultural context. The relationship between sex and gender often seen as direct or compulsory, but is socially constructed. As I’ve previously posted, the Gender Unicorn illustrates the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, physical attraction, and emotional attraction.
Recently, Germany has recognized a third gender for intersex people. As I’ve previously posted, intersex people “do not fit the typical definition of male or female… biological characteristics.” Theorist Judith Butler argues gender is performative in that it “produces a series of effects” that “consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.” We are not born as men and women, but that it is in social interaction that gender identities are reproduced.
Other terms that have entered the general vernacular around gender include ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ people. Cisgender people are those whose sex assigned at birth does correspond with their gender identity. Transgender people are those whose sex assigned at birth does not correspond with their gender identity. Because transgender people encounter intolerance and violence, gender performance can be complex.
It is becoming more common for young people to identify as gender ‘non binary,’ meaning they do not identify as male or female, or ‘non conforming,’ meaning their gender expression does not correspond with the cultural expectations of their respective gender. A study recently found that 27% of teenagers in California are gender nonconforming. In Oregon and California, residents can legally identify as non binary on drivers licenses and state documents. In 2017, a baby in Canada became the first to have the gender status of ‘unassigned’ or ‘undetermined’ on their health records. Some celebrities, such as musician Sam Smith and actress Amandla Stenberg, have also come out as gender non binary.
I previously posted a reference to campus gun policies in relation to relative deviance and sex. Relative deviance is when behavior is defined as deviant in a cultural context. Restated, how we define deviance is dependent upon both when/time and where/culture. With the recent school shooting in Florida, activists are mobilizing around changing gun laws. Various sources are making cultural comparisons to point to the duality of Americans’ views on guns.
Transgender people’s rights:
image from Feminist News
Sanitary and sexual products, in an ad campaign from EVOLVE:
images from Upworthy
image from Feminist News
Humanitarian crisis around disease:
video from Sunday with Lubach, a comedy news parody television show in the Netherlands.
image from Cagle by cartoonist Jeff Parker for Florida Today and Fort Myers News-Press
And with campus issues specifically, such as lab safety:
image from MadBiologist on reddit
posted by Feminist News
In the 2016, the Trump campaign accused Hillary Clinton of lacking “stamina,” being “nasty,” not looking presidential, and stated that she was unable to “satisfy” her husband, and therefore would be unable to “satisfy” America. Though an increasing number of Americans might say they are open to voting for a female president, it is inarguable that some of the anti Clinton rhetoric was rooted in sexism.
In 2014 the Eurovision Song Contest was won by Conchita Wurst from Austria. Conchita Wurst is the drag persona of Tom Neuwirth. “Conchita” is Spanish slang for vulva / vagina and “Wurst” is German slang for penis.
The Eurovision Contest is known for its eccentricity and gay representations are not new, but Wurst’s performance was particularly unique. Though wearing long, curled hair, full makeup, and a beautiful gown all culturally signifying female, she also had a full beard, a secondary sex characteristic associated with males.
The song “Rise Like a Phoenix” holds additional meaning when sung by Wurst. The lyrics “Peering from the mirror No, that isn’t me Stranger getting nearer Who can this person be You wouldn’t know me at all today” and “Once I’m transformed Once I’m reborn I rise up to the sky You threw me down but I’m gonna fly And rise like a phoenix” can all be read as referencing gender ambiguity or transformation. Neuwirth has stated “Conchita Wurst” is his drag persona and he does not identify as transgender, though, like many drag queens, uses ‘she’ pronouns when in character. Wurst’s genderqueer performance was attacked by the Russian Orthodox church as an “abomination” and Vladimir Putin as “aggressive” because non traditional gender identity was “put…up for show”.
In her acceptance speech, Wurst stated “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity and we are unstoppable.”