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Unformatted text preview: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 18 Constructing Identity: Sex and gender Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Sex and gender - Sex : biological (morphological) categories - morphological : having to do with form, in this case, anatomy - based on two suites of physical characteristics associated with producing gametes (either ova (eggs) or sperm) - most humans are born with primarily one suite or the other - a small percentage are born as intersex individuals: with an indeterminate or ambiguous mixture of characteristics - estimates of the frequency of intersex births depends on exactly what is included in the definition - estimates based on different definitions range from 1 in 5000 to 1 in 60 - By a strict medical definition: - about 1 in 5000 (0.018%) are born with an ambiguous mixture of characteristics - either they cannot be classified as male or female based on physical traits - or their physical traits do not match the sex implied by their sex chromosomes (XX=female, XY=male) - Figures from Sax, Leonard (2002) Journal of Sex Research . 39(3):174-178. - By a looser definition that includes additional conditions that some clinicians do not consider to be ambiguous sex - about 1 in 60 (1.7%) or 1 in 100 (1.0%), suggested by Anne Fausto-Sterling in a literature review, and widely cited - she finds that 1 or 2 babies per 1000 are surgically altered to resemble common male or female genital forms - this practice is increasingly questioned, and its frequency is probably declining - source: Blackless, Melanie, Anthony Charuvastra, Amanda Derryck, Anne Fausto- Sterling, Karl Lauzanne, and Ellen Lee (2000) How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis. American Journal of Human Biology 12:151-166. - In one of our readings, Robbins (2009:212) says about 4% of births are intersex - this figure is an error, but the idea that they are not as rare as people think is right - given that there were 4.1 million births in the US in 2005 - depending on the definition of intersex, somewhere from 820 to 68,000 intersex babies are born every year in the US - point: regardless of the exact frequency of intersex births, the common notion of just two unambiguous physical sexes is not really correct - quite a few intersex people are born in every major city, every year - the idea that there are only two physical sexes is a cultural construct - not completely arbitrary, because it is based on what is common - but it does arbitrarily ignore a lot of uncommon, but very real individuals - Gender : social categories - two or more social identities or roles partially associated with sex Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Gender p. 2 - genders always include masculine (man) and feminine (woman) - in some societies, one or more additional categories ( third genders ) - Sexual orientation : categorizes an individuals sexual attraction to, and activities with, others - Four basic sexual orientations - heterosexuality - homosexuality - bisexuality - asexuality...
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- Fall '11
- Cultural Anthropology