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Progression of 'Sexuality' & 'Gender' as Terms

While reading Tracy Ore’s articles on sexuality and gender, the terms were continuously described as socially constructed yet the writers of the articles encouraged the terms when expanding an explanation on why the either do not exist or should not exist. Looking at the terms that arose, it is hard enough to see them through a social construction but when given a periodical placement, it becomes harder to state when the mentality began. The different perspectives on how sexuality and gender have changed and developed through definitions throughout the years made me wonder why do these terms need specific definitions at all? With the world becoming more accepting of things that society has repelled against, ranging over different cultures, why can these terminologies that we currently use to label someone’s sexual orientation, gender, or personality be left as an indefinite set of possibilities?
When Judith Lorber’s essay on The Social Construction of Gender, she states that gender, as part of a process, creates the social differences that determine what we now consider to fit the terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ (Ore, 114). As she continued by describing man as being A and woman being Not-A and the many other superiority to inferiority terminologies, she came used the Freudian psychoanalytic theory and Marxist feminist explanation to prove the A and Not-A usage (Ore, 115). I made a note that through these theories have been widely used through society, for that fact, they motivate those perspectives on gender and why it exists. As a structure, gender places titles on men and women, separating them at home and in the work place and giving authority to men by devaluating women (Ore, 116). Lorber continues by finally acknowledging the complexities behind giving gender, or any term for that matter, a definition because for humans “the social is the nature? (Ore, 117). I believe that for humans, society is made because of the differences that we face every day. If it were natural, why would different cultures have a greater acceptance than Americans? It is because there is a power that wants to classify, to place boundaries, and eventually, be a ruling power over all that are ‘inferior’.
In Holly Boswell’s essay, The Transgender Paradigm Shift Toward Free Expression, she says that our society has linked the transgender community into three different arenas, transsexuals, cross-dressers, and those that participate in gay drag (Ore, 127). Yet, because of contemporary times, these three components have been “too restrictive? and now they have to be liberated as transgendered people are “redefining gender? (Ore, 130). This statement shows that this terminology has to have an ever-changing existence as it is being acknowledged and thus making Boswell’s essay show that the appearance, a notion inside of biology, does not have to be labeled as odd or abnormal. Jonathan Ned Katz wrote in The Invention of Heterosexuality that from 1820-1860, heterosexuality did not exist as a term (Ore, 151). If this is true, why was it these forty years specifically that the United States chose to void this terminology? Furthermore, why did it come back after 1860 if in these forty years the United States must have learned to live/accept it in some fashion? Katz continued his essay through different epochs ranging from 1860 to 1982 to explain the distribution of heterosexuality and the growth of the term. In comparison, Katz’s essay shows correlations of how heterosexuality is not straight-laced as only between a man and a woman because it is not determined by biology but is needed to be studied through the “social and historical? in order for it to really be understood.
The extremes of these essays contrast on many levels although their purpose is usually to reach the same goal – the goal of proving that terminologies exist but should not exist because they endanger the progression of society’s approval and acceptance. That approval paves way for more terms and more research that surpasses what the words like gender, sexuality, transgender, heterosexuality, homosexuality, and the construction of these words have made in contemporary society. Gender and sexuality in today’s society view these terms are core relations to identity and in turn shape what society will perceive them as – from adolescence until adulthood.


good point. i agree completely. when we were talking about race not being biological and being socially constructed, i understood the concept, but thought it odd that the book (and the class) still uses the terms race as if it were factually based. I think the gender terms are pretty much impossible to get rid of since they are already in use, and when we do try to eliminate the terms, we are left with nothin else to describe it. such as race. If we dont use the words black, white or whatever, how do we talk about others. are we then just all the same? its so confusing.