SOC327 2017 Tut4 – Wed 1730

How do you know if you’re a boy or girl, straight or gay, or something else altogether? Is it just obvious biology, something you’ve always known instinctively? Or is it something you’ve learned? What about your sexuality? Or what about your image of yourself as a sexual person?

While conventional perspectives focus on a hetero-normative image of men and women accompanied by prescribed male and female behaviours, and other perspectives gave range to a number of alternative conceptions – gay, lesbian, queer, transgender etc – the origins and repercussions of our sex, gender and sexuality are contested.

Some say that sexuality is fluid and eroticism is plastic, changing over the life course and in different contexts. Others point out that ‘obvious biological’ parts of our existence – our bodies – are increasingly altered to confirm to socially derived gendered stereotypes. Many women continue to alter themselves in ways ranging ‘beach ready body dieting to labiaplasty in pursuit of the perfect female form. Similarly, eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, and sales of protein enhancement and grooming products are steadily increasing amongst men.

What do you think? How much of our sex, gender and sexuality is innate and biological, and how much is environmental and social?

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17 Comments

  1. Personally, I think that Sex is something biological. The sex you are born with deciphers where you are Male or Female. Which in cases you can be born with both being a Hermaphrodite. However, sex is the term I would remove to the notion of sexuality. There are growing homosexual couples as there is heterosexual. When considering social and environmental aspects of gender and sexuality I think it becomes complicated. Not in the fact that being Transgender, pansexual or asexual is complicated. But the way in which society adapts to these terms. Being Gender fluid is something a lot of people are labeling themselves. Where they feel sexuality and gender shouldn’t have categories. Socially today’s society has become increasingly accepting of this term, though it still has a way to come. Looking at Caitlin Jenner for example. She details her pain of hiding under her transgender due to society. “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself.” It wasn’t until later in life where she felt she was able to come out and be accepted.
    Furthermore, sexuality is something that I agree is taught from a young age. Since we were little we were told what toys to play with and what colors to wear associated with our sex. But again today’s society and those who challenge gender expectations are changing these notions. Actress Megan Fox lets her son wear dresses. Which was a large thing in the media recently after an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. Megan answered to the questions on her son “They can be whoever they want to be.”It is thoughts like this that question societies labels.

  2. Judith Butler argues that an individual’s body is socially constructed by society, as she suggests that society has already determined our sex before our gender. In society, we are taught that boys must associate with the colour blue, be masculine and girls must be feminie and like the colour pink. Those individuals who do not conform within society are labelled as ‘outcasts’. This idea was seen in Bev Skeggs reading where there was this ‘competitive femineity’ during the 18th and 19th century where women had to prove their feminine attributes through their appearance and values. (Skeggs 2005, p. 129) This still occurs today with many individuals feeling the need to look a certain way, with the increase of cosmetic surgery, diets and enhancements to conform with societies stereotypes. Sherry Turkle discussed how Techno sexuality has become a new way in which an individual can express and alter their sex or gender. An individual can be a desired gendered identity by creating an avatar which can interact with another avatar in a sexual way, but it is argued to be quite damaging for an individual’s sexual health. (Davis 2009, p. 28). Overall, I believe that our sex, gender and sexuality is biological, but it is impacted by social and environmental factors.

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  3. You are naturally born with a biology but it doesnt neccessarily mean that’s who you are. Many people have converted from male to female or female to male because they felt like the other sex trapped within the other genders body. So i think everyone is born with a cover (skin) but it doesnt define you. The biology component, I agree with the fact that I think your born a certain way and mentally you know when you start to consider perspective partners you’ll figure out what’s right and wrong for you. In regards to environmental and social, it has a small impact in that it does put a pressure on you and an expectation to be like the other people from that social group or environment. But it doesnt define you. I mean you could be surrounded by big burly men all day, that talk about women but you still know that you wanna be with another male. An a good example of this is by Sedgwick (1989), where there was children that were recognised as gay or lesbian were to be punished. So even in the times when there was books and “how to prevent having a homosexual child” they was still children who developed feelings for the opposite sex.
    As you grow up, you will experience things and thoughts and will be able to distinguish what you want. Doesn’t matter where you come from or your social groups. These things may prevent you from telling the truth because your ashamed or scared but still doesnt change who you are.

  4. Our sex is structured by innate and biological ideologies while our gender and sexuality is strongly shaped by our environments and our social surroundings. The distinction between being female or male is characterised by our biology. Our X and Y chromosomes and our external and internal sexual organs are what determines our sex.
    However, gender is a socially constructed ideology and the expectations and roles that come with each gender, vary across different cultures and different societies.
    Sexuality on the other hand can be argued to be either or both biologically determined and socially/environmentally influenced- which is where nature vs nurture comes into play. Considering that sexuality comes in many different forms, and varies depending on the individual itself; I believe that sexuality can in fact be fluid…hence why sexuality can be so greatly vast in terms of definition.

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  5. In today’s society, doctors have developed advanced technologies that allow the correct ‘sex’ of an infant to be assigned months before that child leaves the womb. This assignment occurs as doctors seek out specific biological parts that label the correct ‘sex’ category. Through this, social norms tell us that our prescribed sex at birth should align correctly with the correct gender category (i.e. male = boy). I think that this practice correctly aligns with discussions in lecture regarding Judith Butler’s viewpoints on sex, gender, and the body. Specifically, Butler points out how our bodies are acted on by power of regulated norms and that our sex norms become core to our identity…an exclusive practice. However, in one of our readings by Davis, we are introduced to the concept of technosexuality. Technosexuality examines the relationship between technology and sexual citizenship. Davis uses the concept of an ‘avatar’ to explain how this technological representation allows us imagine new possibilities for oneself. Thus, I find that Davis challenges the concept that ‘sex’ categories are biologically determined. Instead, Davis shows how our gender and sexuality are becoming arenas that become more readily challenged through increasing technological advancements…an arena that allows us to imagine more for our bodies. Personally, I find that sexuality and gender are topics that are consistently being named as biological by mainstream power sources. Yet, as I explore these types of discussions more frequently, I find that gender and sexuality are identities that are constructed as a result of social pressures and standards. We are all presented with the correct way to present our bodies and behaviors based on our prescribed category…it is our job to make sure we fit into those molds.

  6. I would always have been quick to suggest that sex is a matter of biology. That is, the sexual organs one is given at birth dictate your sex. It always seemed confusing to me, how someone born biologically male could perceive himself as ‘female’ or vice versa. These boundaries are clearly changing into something much more fluid, as Selterman suggests, and so what might traditionally be thought of as ‘male’ or ‘female’ may not be comprehensively accepted today. I nonetheless maintain there is something quite different between physically believing that you are one sex or the other (or even having sexual preferences for one sex or the other) and altering yourself physically to align with those views in order to become more desirable. Whereas the former is certainly a more innate idea, the latter is certainly one dependent on society and the environment. The rise of social media and the increasing role media plays on the opinions and psyche of young people effects their mind in a way to make them believe that it is their inherent physicality asking for such changes to be made.

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  7. Our gender is biological-it’s what we are born with and how our bodies are. Social interactions don’t change that. But what can be influenced by our environment is sexuality and sex, although I think that is biologically rooted as well. I like to think of sexuality as your personality-it can change over time, but changes do not deviate too much from your stable personality, your core self. In ways, sexuality can be similar, it can be influenced by society in ways like how you should portray yourself in relation to how you identify, but how you identify remains pretty stable. In kids, sometimes they don’t realize they deviate from sexuality norms until they grow older, because their environment can cultivate them to attempt to fit into social norms. This is an example of the environment interacting with that person where they may be confused about their sexuality, but as they grow older they come closer to their core self/sexuality. I think people are born with a pretty stable sexuality pertaining to that individual, but it can be changed a little over time. I’ve seen a lot of news covering the LGBT community and how some advocate that they are born how they are and it’s not a choice, so I align with how they feel. Overall though, it’s a really tricky subject, especially as a person who isn’t able to understand what it is like from several points of views when it comes to sexuality. So in conclusion, I think gender is completely biological, and sex/sexuality is biological but up for some change.
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  8. There is an ever-present debate around where gender originates. I believe that gender is something that you are instinctively born. In saying that I do not believe that the gender you are instinctively born with always matches your biological sex therefore the two are separate. In our society labels are applied to anything and everything in an attempt to understand and these labels are often used in places where they may not necessarily fit. This then causes a negative impact on those who have to ‘wear’ the label. Labels around the notions of gender can cause children to grow up with confusion surrounding why they don’t ‘feel’ the way they have been labelled.
    Skeggs delves into the issue that a women’s sexuality has to be seen by society as glamourous for it to be desirable and that to be desirable is based on ‘physically corresponding to dominant ideas of sexuality, wearing locally designed and appropriate clothing; limiting their sexual activity to avoid a reputation and not being aggressive vulgar or domineering. I agree with this statement, that society has imposed a strict criteria on how and when people should express their sexuality and if it does not fit the criteria it is then ultimately ‘shunned’ from society. These ‘guidelines’ created by society in regards to women and sexuality take away from what is ‘natural’. We are socially constructed to act in certain ways whether this means to hide certain sexual preferences or to not act on our sexual urges in fear of not being ‘glamourous’ or in a woman’s case feminine. Sex and sexuality is intrinsic and society has corrupt this idea by imposing labels and stereotypes.

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  9. There is an ever-present debate around where gender originates. I believe that gender is something that you are instinctively born. In saying that I do not believe that the gender you are instinctively born with always matches your biological sex therefore the two are separate. In our society labels are applied to anything and everything in an attempt to understand and these labels are often used in places where they may not necessarily fit. This then causes a negative impact on those who have to ‘wear’ the label. Labels around the notions of gender can cause children to grow up with confusion surrounding why they don’t ‘feel’ the way they have been labelled.
    Skeggs delves into the issue that a women’s sexuality has to be seen by society as glamourous for it to be desirable and that to be desirable is based on ‘physically corresponding to dominant ideas of sexuality, wearing locally designed and appropriate clothing; limiting their sexual activity to avoid a reputation and not being aggressive vulgar or domineering. I agree with this statement, that society has imposed a strict criteria on how and when people should express their sexuality and if it does not fit the criteria it is then ultimately ‘shunned’ from society. These ‘guidelines’ created by society in regards to women and sexuality take away from what is ‘natural’. We are socially constructed to act in certain ways whether this means to hide certain sexual preferences or to not act on our sexual urges in fear of not being ‘glamourous’ or in a woman’s case feminine. Sex and sexuality is intrinsic and society has corrupt this idea by imposing labels and stereotypes.

    #SOC327 #Tut4 #Wed1730

  10. I believe you are born into your sex. By this I mean that sex is something that is biological, something we can’t choose for ourselves and is essentially inevitable. However, I believe gender and sexuality have become two very social and environmental aspects in our current society. The second we are born as girls, we are taught by baby shower gifts and clothing that we are expected to like the color pink, and we learn how to use the restroom differently than boys because we must behave appropriately. When we are young, we don’t question the idea that girls wear dresses and boys don’t, because this idea has become natural in our social environment. Boys automatically feel the need to identify as masculine, just by being influenced at a young age that they, unlike girls, do not get to wear dresses or like the color pink without being considered outcasts. We are expected to act differently than the opposite sex, and reluctantly taught how to behave unintentionally by our culture.
    In regards to knowing if you’re straight or gay, I believe this is something people are also born with. Although there may be various view points on the matter, in my opinion, you are born to either be attracted to the same sex, opposite sex, or both. I don’t necessarily think it is a choice, and is instead biologically formed just like our sex is. Yes, we are naturally born into our biology and specific sex, but that doesn’t mean we have to conform with the ideas of society. As mentioned by Davis, technosexuality is the idea that modern technology enables the expression of sex in various ways. I believe that this open access to people expressing their sexuality publically has also had a large impact on socially constructing gender and teaching people how they should represent themselves sexually according to their gender. The world around us is constantly trying to shape who we should be, but I do have hope that our society is starting to push against social norms and fight against this ideal “normal”.

  11. Being born with certain body parts should at no point determine your lifestyle. This is evident is society’s changing views on gender and sexuality. The Western notion that men have to be tough and like the colour blue is slowly changing. Though there are still concrete ideals set in people’s minds. People’s gender does not need to be assigned at birth, though sadly this is what society seems to believe needs to happen.
    Transgender people face a great struggle in being accepted for who they are. A person may be born with certain sex organs but that does not make them a certain gender, that is decided upon by each individual. Society may pressure people to act a certain gender determine on their biology, but it all comes down to the individual and what they feel is right. Fo example Caitlyn Jenner lived over 60 years as a man married with children until she decided to live the gender she knew she was, a woman.

    The stigma to be a certain way is overwhelming with pressure from society, but individuals are strong enough to be themselves often find greater satisfaction in their lives.

  12. I think the substance of the terms ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ are innate, but what is referred via these terms themselves are socially-constructed ideals that have been applied to the body, for ease of distinction rather than actual veridicality. What is referred to by ‘sex’ (male/female) is an overly-simplified social separation of biological characteristics into two categories, problematised by people exhibiting ‘unusual’ combinations of such characteristics. An individual must signify their biological make-up to others to attract potential mates—a process which has been socially-coded as ‘gender’ and has been heavily influenced by societal ideals, seen in the differences of what constitutes ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits cross-culturally. And lastly, I think the idea of ‘sexuality’ is arbitrary and a consequence of the social importance of gender. To reiterate: by saying the terms are socially constructed I am not trying to say the things they refer to do not exist, however have been manipulated through the social idea of them.

  13. I think that your are born with certain features, such as our body as the physical part and a certain set of instincts what nature thought we were supposed to do with our bodies. But as we make more and more process in health innovations and develop highly increasing methods that allow us to change those fundamentals there has been a change in society, too. The basics that are nor changeable are becoming less and less. We can take hormones to force our bodies into a change towards the other gender, there are methods to remove a penis or build a new one. And I believe these changes will be brought to perfection and the boarders will be widened. Right now I can only think of the brain and its processes that is at a very low status to be understood and changed in comparison to other body parts. But eventually this might also be adjustable at some point. Summarized my opinion is that we are born with a set of inherent features, but are experiencing an increasing variety of options to change them. The acceptance is growing with a wider variety of options, also the influence since we are well aware of other option. Although I still think that the inherent instincts play a big role in our personal motivation to present and feel our gender.

  14. I believe our sex is what we are born with. It is a biological aspect of ourselves. Your sex organs determine your sex at birth. However, I believe that the idea of gender is a social construction developed to apply label and dictate behaviour throughout history. Skeggs explores the ideas of women’s femininity over time. Through this, it illustrates the ideas of women’s sexuality. I believe that society has placed an abundance of expectations upon the ideals of gender and sexuality that have proved to have negative effects. The media has complemented these ideas with notions of sexuality and gender. The ideas of blue is for boys and pink is for girls is a norm that society has constructed to label gender. I hope that one day, the severity of these images lessens so that everyone feels included within society.

  15. if we are talking gender specifics i don’t think it can ever be pin pointed. we are made up of half woman half male genetics … keeping in mind that it’s not purely half and half. this is what said to determine our sex the more of one gene will determine your sex, simple right? But what if you’re a female who has more facial hair ( chin, lip, cheeks) or a male with more oestrogen than testosterone; what does that make you? In my opinion it doesn’t change a thing you’re still a female and or male. Let’s add in sexuality … it is said that a female will be attracted to the male sex and vice versa, but what if the same sex had characteristics of the opposite sex and you were attracted to them, would you question your sexuality?This is where i’d argue that sexuality is somewhat socially constructed – as we felt the need to put a label on everything (gay, lesbian, Bi-sexual) etc.
    putting it in simpler terms : i’d say almost all of it is biological in terms of our sexuality as far as we are attracted to each other but then our preferences are environment and social based. I’d say our gender is innate because if you are male you KNOW that you’re male even if you’re born female and so on.

  16. From developing an understanding about the way in which societal norms are constructed along with studying theorists such as Judith Butler I am of the belief that sex refers to biology, whilst gender refers to our constructed conceptualisaion of what that sex should entail. While on surface level we might see gender as referring to characteristics such as dress, preference of hobbies ecetera, furthermore gender involves the way we use language to dichotomise people into categories based on their sex. Language is what we use to prescribe traits to masculinity and femininity and the way we enforce expectations onto individuals. It is these expectations of gender that Butler says are performative however now with the growing access to and affordability of plastic surgery it seems that our current society are more and more willing to adhere to and often to sacrifice their individuality and unique physical makeup to reach the goal of the ultimate man and woman.

    What I personally find difficult to understand is where transgender individuals fall in regards to the idea of gender as a construct. When an individual is born into the wrong body is it in regards to the behaviourial traits, interests, clothing preferences of the gender construct with which they feel a sense of dysphoria or is it with gender as a truly innate sense of being that we are born with? If so, could science hold the key to understanding gender in the future?

    Sexuality however is a whole different ball game. I personally believe that sexuality is a vast spectrum of experiences that certainly does not fall within the traditional heteronormative understanding and furthermore is certainly not limited to homosexuality, asexuality, demisexuality and bisexuality. I believe that these are terms we use, like all labels within our systems of language to deconstruct the human experience so that we feel content with understanding where we fit into society, who we are, and who we are not. I also believe that whilst these labels can encourage individual’s, especially those within the LBGTQI community, to identify who they are and where they fit in, ultimately all labels can be hindering for people within society regardless of whether they prescribe to ‘the norm’ or not.
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  17. I see gender, sex and sexuality as a spectrum. There are so many varying factors to account for, that every definition is essentially a generalization. In an innate sense, you are said to be born intrinsically female or male as defined by your biological makeup – this of course discounts those whom are born hermaphrodites, that is being born with both male and female sex organs or other sexual characteristics, either abnormally or (in the case of some organisms) as the natural condition. So already we have a blurred sense of biological definition. The point of this case is that society will make you choose a side – even if you are born with both, because of the social constructs within the particular culture and environment you are born into. Blue or pink? Trucks or dolls? Dress or shorts? From the moment we are born we are already faced with a choice of 2 sides, and this is where our gender perception stems from.

    Our gender is a bi-product of our sex, and has evolved from a comparison of our biological makeups. Those born female were always perceived to be weaker than those who were born male – and thus the systemic view of gender evolved as tasks were delegated accordingly, and everything else is history.

    By looking at sex, gender and sexuality on a spectrum – one can see that both the biological and environmental factors have a huge role in ones personal and societal identity. The very fact that society forces people to define their identity somewhere along this spectrum is what makes it so complicated.

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