Making Gender an Advantage

In the fall I took Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality, where we studied socio-cultural norms and political influences of dichotomous gender systems. We read a book titled Lessons from the Intersexed by Susanne J. Kessler, in which intersex individuals share their experiences of sex operations. The medical community has traditionally described ambiguous genitalia with ambiguous terms, making decisions that are based upon society’s understanding of male and female. Over time scientific advances allowed for chromosomal testing, providing everyone with “proof” of a person’s gender.

In the New York Times article “You Say You’re a Woman? That Should Be Enough” by Rebecca Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis the authors write, “if we want a clear answer…, it is time to stop pawning this fundamentally social question off onto scientists.”

The Olympics, a global and cross-cultural event, cannot be ruled by narrowly-defined gender categories. Many cultures in this world do not devalue intersexed individuals as Western societies do.  Value must be placed in athleticism, not social norms. Associating one gender as being advantageous over another is very dangerous to a global community that has made many strides to overcome sexism and gender inequality.

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One Response to Making Gender an Advantage

  1. striva says:

    This is really interesting, and I totally understand your argument when considering trans-gendered people and people who do not define themselves under the two standardized social genders. In terms of the Olympics, I wonder how this could be resolved… do you have any ideas about what they can do to be more inclusive to people of alternative genders?

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