7 March 2008
PART 1. EVERYONE ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
Your answer should not exceed
of typing single-spaced (about 25 lines)
1. Explain how “sex” and “gender” are different.
How does the concept of “performing gender”
expand on these two concepts?
Sex is typically defined as being intimate and biological (Langa 1-15-08). Sex is either of
the two main categories, male or female, which humans are divided into based on their
reproductive organs. This is determined for each person at birth. For humans, their sex is often
seen as an identity for biological and social purposes. For most, one can only be a female or a
male. Many factors can play a role in how a person feels about their sex. Their environment,
psychology, biology, and social structure can all play vital parts in what a person considers their
sex to be.
In addition to having an assigned sex, there is also gender.
Gender is different depending
on how each social community sets up how women and men should act. It is a socially
constructed set of expectations (Langa 1-15-08). Gender is the state of being male or female that
is typically defined using references from both social and cultural differences rather than
biological ones. Some can biologically be defined as having the sex of a female, but they can
consider themselves to be a male based on how they live their life, how they were raised, and the
society and community in which they grew up.
In Judith Lorber’s
The Social Construction of Gender
, she says that gender is better seen
as a process rather than as a status. The “process” starts at birth when our gender is determined
for us based on our genitalia, and then continues to develop, as we grow older. Some people, as
they mature, feel as if they are not meant to be in the body that they were assigned at birth, thus
some feel the need to dress, look, and act like the gender they want to be. It is better to label
gender as a “process” rather than a “status” because not everyone is comfortable in their own
skin, and in order to be comfortable they experiment with being both genders. Some days, a male,
can want to act like a male, other days, he may feel like acting like a female.
“Performing gender” falls into a similar category as to whether or not gender should be
seen as a status or more as a process. This is ongoing and can occur at anytime. Just because we
are assigned a specific sex based on our genitalia at birth does not mean that we have to confine
ourselves to only portraying that sex.
The differences between sex and gender are still confused often in today’s society. They
are often times used as words that are interchangeable because many believe that they have the
same meaning. I, too, did not know that there was that much of a difference between the two
words, so I used the two interchangeably as if they did mean the same thing. I’m glad that I have
learned the difference, and have actually corrected some of my friends in their use of the words.