Emergence of the 2-Sex/2-Gender System

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


Source: Sex and the Body by Nelly Oudshoorn

Prior to the 18th century, ancient texts showed that there was no defined sex or gender. They believed males and females were the same but with women having the same genitals as males but on the insides; thus, developing the one-sex model according to Thomas Laqueur. Women’s genitals were just viewed as the same as males but as a female version of it. This view of females having a different version of male parts and not a part considered of their own gave way to a view that women were inferior to men.

Then in the 18th century, doctors began to look at other differences between males and females. It started off with comparing with their skeletal structure, and because women’s skulls were different from men, it was again used to make them feel more inferior. By the 19th century, doctors were comparing all parts of the body such as the bone, blood vessel, cells, hair, brain, facial structure to find the differences between male and females. Then afterwards  females were determined by the specific organs the uterus or the womb and the ovaries which was believed to be the center of the female reproductive system. Now since the late 19th century the ovaries noted by doctors released chemical substances called sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone which they believed is what makes females feminine. However, hormones can be produced and ingested synthetically for medical proposes. The lack of these hormones were noticed to cause females that were more masculine

The creation of the 2-sex and 2-gender system started centuries ago with the idea that the female body is an inferior body to that compared of a man. This inferior idea of the female body carried over the centuries as doctors tried to find the differences between the male and female bodies. I believe that in searching for the differences, people wanted to create the 2-sex/2-gender system so that they can find themselves more power or superior. It is a man-made categorization just as Jonathan Ned Katz’s “The Invention of Hetereosexuality” states that the term “heterosexual” was unnecessarily created in order to make a group of people feel inferior. In this case the doctors went and searched for a difference in order to justify that females were inferior to males. I believe we must abolish the idea of the 2-sex/2-gender system if we wish to stop the discrimination and hate towards people of transgender. I believe this system is not an accurate depiction of the human race, because it is now obvious that there are people who are masculine males, masculine females, feminine females, and feminine males. There are between in between, and therefore a 2 group system cannot successfully represent this.


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