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September 21, 2007

Two important points in "A Black Feminist Statement"

1) Oprressions on black women are "manifold" (racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and so on) and "simutaneous".
2) Black feminist politics is antiracist and antisexist but not separatist.

September 17, 2007

Ranges of Medically Acceptable Infant Clitoral and Penile Lengths

In Suzanne Kessler's research of the intersexed, she finds that physicians use size to determine sex assignment of intersexed infants. Clitorises with the length of 0.2-0.9cm and penises with the length of 2.5-4.5cm are considered medically acceptable. Genitals within the range of 0.9-2.5 are considered unacceptable. Boys with penises smaller than 2.5 cm may be reassigned as girls.

--from The Five Sexes, Revisited

Moving Beyond Five Sexes

A few years later, in response to Suzanne J. Kessler's critique of the "five sexes" Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote another essay, titled "The Five Sexes, Revisited".

Kessler argues:

The limitation with Fausto-Sterling's proposal is that...[it] still gives genitals...primary signifying status and ignores the fact that in the everyday world gender attributions are made without access to genital inspection....What has primacy in everyday life is the gender that is performed, regardless of the flesh's configuration under the clothes. (13)

Fausto-Sterling responds:

"I now agree with Kessler's assessment. It would be better for intersexuals and their supporters to turn everyone's focus away from genitals. Instead, as she suggests, one should acknowledge that people come in an even wider assortment of sexual identities and characteristics than mere genitals can distinguish." (13)

The Five Sexes

In 1993, Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote an essay for The Sciences, titled "The Five Sexes". In this essay, she argues that the two-sex system is not adequate to show the full spectrum of human sexualities. Instead, she suggests a five-sex system: males, females, "herms" , "merms", and "ferms".

According to Anne Fausto-Sterling, "herms" are named after hermaphrodites, people who are born with both a testis and an ovary, "merms" are male pseudo-hermaphrodites who are born with testes and some aspect of female genitalia, and "ferms" are female pseudo-hermaphrodites who are born with ovaries combined with some aspect of male genitalia.