Dichotomy of Our Gender System Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:


Following on the heels of Michel Foucault, Butler situates the dichotomous conceptualization of gender as a product of discourse, just as Foucault (1990) realized that homo- and heterosexuality were both discursive products. The maintenance of coherent norms in the realm of gender through cultural discourse is intertwined with the positing of heterosexuality as the norm. This is why, for example, when a young boy "dresses up" as a girl and/or plays with dolls, his parents frequently express concern that this is a sign of burgeoning homosexuality and punish the child.

Butler would interpret the child's act as a "performance" and the parents' intervention as a means of correcting that performance in order to condition the child towards "acting the right way" - that is, enacting the role of maleness as it is rigidly codified by the heterosexual norms upon which our society is based:

The notion that there might a "truth" of sex, as Foucault ironically terms it, is produced precisely through the regulatory practices that generate coherent identities through the matrix of coherent gender norms. The heterosexualization of desire requires and institutes the production of discrete and asymmetrical oppositions between "feminine" and "masculine," where these are understood as expressive attributes of "male" and "female." number of writers have challenged the gender dichotomy by attempting to explore the question in relation to other axes of cultural differentiation, such as class, religion, and race. Such analyses effectively de-simplify the question of gender, showing how gender's social construction is in fact contingent on a variety of cultural factors. Indeed, the work of authors such as bell hooks (1999) has clearly demonstrated that it is nearly impossible to discuss gender without regards to its intersection with race, class, sexuality, and other cultural constructs.

The work of Gil and Vazquez (1997) addresses the stereotypical roles that Latin American women often fall into, arguing that such roles are often culturally determined - and thus difficult to evade. The solution, they suggest, is to forge a balance between the traditions of the "old world" while simultaneously taking cues from the "new world" - in particular the North American feminist movement - as a means of evading the more rigidly codified gendering inherent to many Latin cultures. In their analysis, marianismo is just as dangerous to women as machismo; the performance of such a role must be overcome in order for women to reach a true state of empowerment and vitality.

Finally, first-hand narratives of women's own experience in dealing with the gender issue form a significant part of the literature on the challenges imposed by the gender dichotomy. In that they stem from authors' personal experiences, they often serve as a powerful challenge to the dominant system of values. Screane (1998) has discussed the challenges of choosing to retain her virginity as an African-American female and a Christian. The work of writers such as Lorde (1983) show us in painful detail the multiple forms of oppression that the author encountered in her lifetime as an African-American lesbian feminist from an impoverished background. Bornstein (1995) details her struggles through a number of gender and sexual identities as a transsexual, while the work of Clausen (1999), a lesbian feminist who fell in love with a man and was thus ostracized from her former community, shows us just how relevant such theoretically complex arguments as Butler's are in the real world.


Bornstein, K. (1995). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. New York: Vintage.

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.

Clausen, J. (1999). Apples and Oranges: My Journey to Sexual Identity. New York: Houghton


Fausto-Sterling, a. (2000). The Five Sexes, Revisited. The Sciences, July/August 2000, 18-23.

Foucault, M. (1990). The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. New York: Vintage.

Gil, R.M., & Vazquez C.I. (1997). The Maria Paradox. New York: Perigee Press.

A hooks, b. (1999). Ain't IA Woman: Black Women & Feminism. Cambridge, MA: South End


Lorde, Audre (1983). Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press.

Lucal, B. (1999). What it Means to be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous

Gender System. Gender and Society, 13 (6), 781-797.

Modan, R. (2007). Queen of the Scottish Fairies. Retrieved October 16, 2007, from the New

York Times Blog. Web site: http://modan.blogs.nytimes.com/

Screane, K. (1998). Appraising God's Property. In O. Edut (Ed.), Adios Barbie: Young

Women Write About Body Image and Identity. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

Sedgwick, E.K. (1991). Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley, CA: University of California


Spelman, E.V. (1982). Woman as Body: Ancient and Contemporary Views. Feminist Studies, 8 (1), 109-131.

Wolff, C. (1977). Bisexuality. New York: Quartet Books.

Yoshino, K. (2006). The Pressure to Cover. New York Times Magazine.

Spelman (1982), 110.

Fausto-Sterling (2000), 22.

For more on gender, sexuality, and legal issues, see Yoshino (2006).

Fausto-Sterling (2000), 23.

For more on gender as performance, see Butler (1999).

Sedgwick (1991), 47.

A number of other writers have argued that homosexuality and…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Dichotomy Of Our Gender System" (2007, October 16) Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/dichotomy-of-our-gender-system-35106

"Dichotomy Of Our Gender System" 16 October 2007. Web.10 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/dichotomy-of-our-gender-system-35106>

"Dichotomy Of Our Gender System", 16 October 2007, Accessed.10 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/dichotomy-of-our-gender-system-35106

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Gender and Identity Formation in

    62), a society with "shallow-rooted" norms (p. 177), a "meager and difficult place" as opposed to the expansive way Ruth wishes to grow as a woman. (p. 178) Helen's storm inside, this mother's crisis of identity, has parallels not with Baldwin's women, but with characters such as the Reverend Henry, whose anger at White society can only be expressed in a eulogy over his beloved son's casket. Extremity in

  • Gender and International Relations International

    57). Coker's article (published in a very conservative magazine in England) "reflected unease among some of his colleagues" about that new course at LSEP. Moreover, Coker disputes that fact that there is a female alternative to male behavior and Coker insists that "Whether they love or hate humanity, feminists seem unable to look it in the face" (Smith quoting Coker, p. 58). If feminists are right about the female nature being

  • Race Class Gender the Intersection

    The different "isms" such as sexism, heterosexism, and racism are creating very real schisms -- in our minds, and between people. The chasms of communication that are created by hatred and misunderstanding are socially constructed. They can be socially deconstructed too. Such rifts occur between groups of people and between whole cultures. In some pockets of the United States, social conservatism threatens to erase the social progress made since the

  • Importance of Plastic Surgery in Our Society

    Plastic Surgery in Our Society Plastic beauty -- curse or bliss? There is much controversy regarding physical appearance in the contemporary society, as while the masses promote the belief that it one's thinking is more important than the way that he or she looks like, most people invest large amounts of money in their looks. The world has practically been bombarded by the effects of a cosmetic surgery culture during the

  • Anthropology Review and Critique Gender in Cross Cultural

    Anthropology Review and Critique: Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspectives The textbook by Brettell and Sargent on the myriad and diverse studies of gender is not only written with excellent scholarship and with a style that is engaging, but the subject selections - and their order of placement - contribute to a wholly informative presentation. Even the introductions to each section are interesting and informative; indeed, a bright, alert reader could digest just

  • Does Gender Difference Play a Role in Marital Conflict

    relational research question; directional hypothesis) and why you are using that type. This research study is an inquiry into the role of gender in marital conflict. The purpose of the study is not to assess the nature of the role of gender in marital conflict, for it is not presumed that such a role exists. Rather, the answer we seek is a Boolean one; we will accept the null hypothesis

  • Pregnant Man Being Born a

    Beatie did not accept biological determinism as the means by which to do gender. On the other hand, Beatie transcends gender altogether. By rejecting and then changing his genitalia and physique, Thomas Beatie passed through his life as a male and was legally and socially identified as such. He married a woman and most of the people he interacted with treated Beatie like they would any other man. When

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved