Event Title

Bathrooms, Sexuality, and Marriage: An Illustration of the Sex/Gender Binary

Mentor 1

Dr. Gregory Peter

Location

Union 183

Start Date

24-4-2015 9:00 AM

Description

The past century has seen significant gains in civil rights such as the recognition of homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation, recognition of and respect for the transgendered, and increasing access to marriage. But our world is also one in which to say a person is a man and a male is to be redundant, and to discuss sexuality is to stumble over various acronym letters. Interdisciplinary scholarship has long asserted that gender and sex are social constructs, but what exactly is meant by the phrase “sex/gender binary”? Through a discussion of bathrooms, sexuality, and marriage, the present work illustrates the mutually-exclusive nature of this paradigm of opposites in which a person must be either a male-man or female-woman. Using a symbolic interactionist perspective, the author draws on both foundational and topical works in gender scholarship as well as current events to bring to light the curious and problematic way our institutions are gendered. In the arena of restrooms, for instance, an otherwise male-appearing person with long hair and a purse-like bag regularly encounters the momentary confusion of other male patrons; the conventions of sexual orientation use self/opposite descriptions (“I am straight”) instead of specifics (“I’m attracted to shapely/dynamic/smart men/women”); and a traditional definition of marriage as “one man and one woman” legally translates as “one person designated as having male genitals, and one person designated as having female genitals.” As part of a growing body of literature on gender diversity, this work reveals that beneath an ethic of gender equality lies a world that rigidly defines gender through largely unchanged institutions and continues to ignore the existence of intersexed and gender-diverse individuals. The value of this and related works of academia is in their ability to both show the inequalities that remain in our world and suggest how diverse and normatively gendered people alike can value from a dismantling of restrictive sex/gender norms.

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Apr 24th, 9:00 AM

Bathrooms, Sexuality, and Marriage: An Illustration of the Sex/Gender Binary

Union 183

The past century has seen significant gains in civil rights such as the recognition of homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation, recognition of and respect for the transgendered, and increasing access to marriage. But our world is also one in which to say a person is a man and a male is to be redundant, and to discuss sexuality is to stumble over various acronym letters. Interdisciplinary scholarship has long asserted that gender and sex are social constructs, but what exactly is meant by the phrase “sex/gender binary”? Through a discussion of bathrooms, sexuality, and marriage, the present work illustrates the mutually-exclusive nature of this paradigm of opposites in which a person must be either a male-man or female-woman. Using a symbolic interactionist perspective, the author draws on both foundational and topical works in gender scholarship as well as current events to bring to light the curious and problematic way our institutions are gendered. In the arena of restrooms, for instance, an otherwise male-appearing person with long hair and a purse-like bag regularly encounters the momentary confusion of other male patrons; the conventions of sexual orientation use self/opposite descriptions (“I am straight”) instead of specifics (“I’m attracted to shapely/dynamic/smart men/women”); and a traditional definition of marriage as “one man and one woman” legally translates as “one person designated as having male genitals, and one person designated as having female genitals.” As part of a growing body of literature on gender diversity, this work reveals that beneath an ethic of gender equality lies a world that rigidly defines gender through largely unchanged institutions and continues to ignore the existence of intersexed and gender-diverse individuals. The value of this and related works of academia is in their ability to both show the inequalities that remain in our world and suggest how diverse and normatively gendered people alike can value from a dismantling of restrictive sex/gender norms.