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jzarate's picture

Distinction between Gender and Sex

When Professor Grobstein asked us about the difference between sex and gender, I have to admit that my mind went straight to the gutter and had I been brave enough to blurt out my answer it would have been something like, “Well sex is an action, you know the dirty deed, and gender is a personal distinction between male and female.”  Thankfully, I avoided this embarrassment.  I appreciate the idea that science can be explained with stories. It seems that the theories on the cutting edge are really just stories based on observations. Professor Grobstein wanted to warm us up by breaking down our differentiations between biology and literature in order to prepare us mentally for the larger leap of breaking down gender/sex distinctions. Although Professor Grobstein portrayed a biological perspective on gender/sex in nonconventional terms, I failed to necessarily make a literary connection.  His mathematical diction led me to jot down an equation calculating sex/gender based on the integration of cultural, genetic, and mental variables over time. I’ll spare you the complete details of my nerdy-ness, but the fact that given the same information I, again, ended up on a tangent leads me to a greater consideration of the idea that there are no genders/sexes. Because given similar environments people do not develop in the same way rather they can be refreshingly unique. It does not seem fair to limit our self definitions to constrictive and stereotypical terms like male or female when we can better do justice to our individuality through more flexible terms.  

I have felt a greater connection between literature and biology in Middlesex. Cal’s poetic descriptions of genetics and hereditary development draw literature and biology together. (I would love to be able to quote the text here, but I have been listening to the audio recording until my book arrives.) It is interesting that some of the readers are not necessarily distinguishing the narrator as male or female, because the voice narration is male, which I feel may limit the intensity of Cal’s transformation. 

At this point I’m not sure how my reevaluation of the terms and concepts of gender/sex impact my view on feminine politics, because I’m no longer sure how to define feminism or what qualities constitute a feminist.


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