Human Sexuality and Social Change
Binaries Existing Around Gender and Sexuality
Binary is one of the methods that is used to classify gender and sex into two different, opposite and disconnected forms. These forms can be masculine or feminine. Binarism, as one of the major principles of genderism, is used to describe social boundaries that controls and prevent human beings from crossing or combining gender roles, duties and responsibilities. Gender and sexuality are assumed by default to coordinate. For instance, in biological interpretations, it is assumed that male would show masculine traits in characters, appearance, and behavior. This also includes a heterosexual attraction to the female genders who are their counterpart of opposite sex. Western culture views gender as a binary idea that have two strictly fixed options of male and female which are both based on individual’s physical anatomy. Gender binary involves the assumed system where a society divides its members into two big categories, which are female and male sexes and identify them with different gender roles, identities and attributes (Aulette et al. 35).
Gender role is one of the distinct features of a gender binary that is used to distinguish male and female in the society. These roles are in terms of jobs that are to be carried out by male individuals and which are distinct from female jobs and roles played by each party in the family. Other binary is identity where the gender is associated with self-description of an individual, community membership, and either masculine or feminine. The other gender binary is in the expression, which is how an individual express themselves in terms of clothing, personalities, and mannerisms among others. Other form of binary that exists in gender is perception, which is the manner by which people perceive each other. Gender refers to the way an individual behave and identify themselves as either male or female by social standards. Male gender is identified by the society as being masculine and females should appear feminine. Gender refers to an individual sense of who they are, either as a guy, girl or intersex, which is contrary to what a person’s genes, physical characteristics and hormones indicates (Aulette et al. 55).
Person’s sexuality is based on the individual to whom one is attracted to both sexually and romantically. This brings the binaries of heterosexual referring to people who are attracted to opposite sex or of different sex. There are also elements of people who are attracted by persons of the same sex who are referred to as gay or lesbian. In sexuality there are also a group of persons that are attracted by both men and women and are referred to as bisexual (Aulette et al. 63).
Reasons of continued Existence of Binaries around Gender and Sexuality
These binaries continue to exist despite changes in the societies due to factors associated with them. For instance, male gender is perceived by society as being masculine and bestowed roles, which requires them to be aggressive. Contrary, female are perceived to be passive and bears feminine traits. Young boys during drama production refer to the passive boys as fag to indicate that they are not playing masculine role as expected by the society. African-American male dresses and dances to boost their social status as masculine while White males are more vigilant avoiding activities that have high chances of being considered as not being masculine by the society such as dressing sharply and dancing (Pascoe 77).
Despite changes in the society, individual traits and modifications are perceived by society as a whole and there are influenced by what the society deems appropriate. Females are expected to display emphasized femininity whereas male are expected to express hegemonic masculinity of which results from both behaviors and appearances. Females are passive and submissive while males who display hegemonic masculinity are proactive, dominant and tough. These constraints are socially constructed and hence resulting to the existence of binaries around sexuality and gender (Pascoe 84). .
How do they fail to capture the complexities of gender and sexual orientation?
The sexuality and gender binaries address people living in a society as either male or female bearing characteristics of man and woman respectively. The gender and sexuality binaries fails to capture all people in the society as there exists group of people who falls under other groups like intersex and transgender group and hence not captured under this grouping. Intersex refers to individuals whose reproductive anatomy does not seem to fit in either classification of a person as male or female binaries. Transgender is used to refer to individuals who have mismatch between gender identities with their assigned sex during birth. For instance, in transgender situations, men appear more feminine and females are masculine. The binaries fail to capture these individuals and hence cause them to develop homophobia as members of the society (McClintock 111).
How Binaries around Gender and Sexuality have been Challenged or Undermined
Binaries under gender and sexuality have been challenged largely by the manner in which they classify people, that is, only into two distinct categories. Gender binary insists of men being masculine and women being feminine, which affects people’s behaviors causing constraints in their roles. For instance, the classification causes constraints in gender roles in that people cannot perform certain roles without being scrutinized in the society. Currently, there have not been distinctive roles for either male or females, where both can undertake any role in the family. Women are playing masculine roles and male participating in feminine roles without major scrutiny by the society. Similarly, there have been activists fighting for the rights of transgender and intersex individuals, hence, challenging the big classification of people by sexuality traits (McClintock 103).
Aulette, Judy Root, et al. Gendered worlds. Oxford University Press, USA, 2009.
McClintock, Anne. Imperial leather: Race, gender, and sexuality in the colonial contest. Routledge, 2013.
Pascoe, Cheri J. Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, With a New Preface. Univ of California Press, 2011.