Middle Sexes Response
When one of my liberal friends informed me last semester that gender is not binary, I must admit I was skeptical. After studying gender and sex in this class, I now understand the distinction between gender as a social construct and sex as a biological one. With advancements in surgical procedures and technology, it seems that there are ways for individuals to manipulate their â€śsexâ€? in order to support their â€śgender.â€?
In the documentary â€śMiddle Sexes,â€? there was some interesting evidence from nature to undermine the binary mentality. One quotation stood out in particular: â€śBiology loves variation, society hates it.â€? From homosexual activity between primates to male seahorses giving birth, the â€śnaturalâ€? world does not impose such rigid constraints on gender norms as does society. This same idea was found in Kesslerâ€™s article, The Medical Construction of Gender: â€śThe belief that gender consists of two exclusive types is maintained and perpetuated by the medical community in the face of incontrovertible physical evidence that this is not mandated by biologyâ€? (Kessler 65).
So why do humans feel the need to categorize gender? The effects of this normalization were felt heavily by Noahâ€™s family. Class and geographical location played a huge role in placing pressures upon this family. The small town, hardworking middle class, religiously conservative Midwest atmosphere was not accepting of deviations from the expectations about gender. Noahâ€™s father obviously struggled with this issue. He loved his son, but he was strongly influenced by the opinions of those around him. At one point, he made the comment: â€śnobody wants their son growing up like that.â€? The mom and step-dad took a slightly different approach. The mom talked about the religious pressure she felt from her family to raise Noah differently, but she was resolved to support him in being who he was. Her main concern was for his safety: he was already experiencing alienation from his peers, and she was afraid this would escalate into violence. The step-dad noted that he wants Noah to grow up and have the agency and strength to be himself.
Race and ethnicity also affect the way we view gender. The case in India was unique. On the one hand, weddings were a socially acceptable place for men to release their pent-up feelings and dance provocatively with one another. On the other hand, societyâ€™s condemnation of homosexuality forced a gay couple to live double lives that were not fair to their spouses or to themselves. This hypocrisy regarding sexuality goes unquestioned because it is so normalized in the culture.