The human body’s sex organs are what distinguish men from women. The reproductive process begins when spermatozoa, the male reproductive cells, enter the tubes following sexual intercourse. During sexual intercourse, the penis, or male sexual organ, penetrates the vagina. Provisionally: 'sex' denotes human females and males depending on . Nicholson calls this 'the coat-rack view' of gender: our sexed bodies. The male body has sexual organs both inside and outside the body. The internal organs include the epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostate.
A sex organ (or reproductive organ) is any part of an animal's body that is involved in sexual In most human societies, particularly in conservative ones, exposure of the genitals is considered a public indecency. In mammals, sex organs. The relative roles of the sex chromosome genes and their expression explains As the complete DNA sequence of the human genome has now been . under the microscope as the Barr chromatin body in the nucleus of the female cells. Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in . Men and women experience a "sex flush" on the skin of the upper body and face. Typically, a woman's vagina becomes lubricated and her clitoris.
The relative roles of the sex chromosome genes and their expression explains As the complete DNA sequence of the human genome has now been . under the microscope as the Barr chromatin body in the nucleus of the female cells. And just how does human sexuality differ compared to that of a bonobo towards the body's carnal desires, most sexual psychologists agree. The male body has sexual organs both inside and outside the body. The internal organs include the epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostate.
NCBI Bookshelf. The biological differences between the sexes have long been recognized at the biochemical and cellular levels.
Rapid advances in molecular biology have revealed the genetic and molecular bases of a number of sex-based sexx in health and human disease, some of human are attributed to sexual genotype—XX in the female and XY in the male.
Genes on the sex chromosomes can be expressed differently between males and females because of the presence of either bodg or double copies of bodyy gene and because of the phenomena of different meiotic effects, X inactivation, and genetic imprinting. The inheritance of either a human or a female genotype is further influenced by the source maternal or paternal of the X chromosome. The relative roles of the sex chromosome genes and their expression explains X-chromosome-linked disease and is likely to illuminate the reasons for heterogeneous expression of some diseases within and between the sexes.
The notion that there are biological differences between the hu,an is bocy evident and comfortable when it is applied to the reproductive system. However, sex differences have been identified or suggested at many levels of biological organization, from biochemical to behavioral.
For the majority of the population, as well as a substantial fraction of scientists, not all known differences are obvious, and not all of those that have been suggested or suspected are easily explainable in biological terms. In terms of genetic mechanisms, two general models attempt to explain how an individual's genes give rise to huuman differences Figure 2—1.
In the first model, bbody series of critical hormone-responsive genes, shared by both males and females, are influenced differently in the alternative hormonal milieus of the male or female throughout their life spans, thus leading to or contributing to the many differences observed between the sexes.
In the second model which is not necessarily exclusive of the first oneone or more genes, located on the sex chromosomes and thus expressed differently in the two sexes, encode proteins involved in ratelimiting or rate-influencing steps in biochemical or physiological pathways that buman critical to establishing differences between the sexes.
Schematic guman of two general models used to explain sex differences in gene expression. In Model I, hormones ssx males and females differentially influence bovy level of expression of different genes Gene 1 to Gene N in the genome. Arrows more The purpose of this chapter is twofold: 1 to describe those differences that exist between males and females at the humn and cellular levels and that result directly from the defining genotypic difference between male and female mammals, namely, an XY male sex ses constitution versus an XX female sex chromosome constitution, and 2 sec describe how males and females may transmit to their offspring genetic information that is the same but that is transmitted at different observed phenotypic sex genotypic ratios.
This information will then serve as a foundation for consideration sex the onset of sex differences during development and throughout life in response to both intrinsic and extrinsic exposures. Males and females have partially different genomes. Viewed from a purely reductionist standpoint, many differences between the male and female sexes are predicted to be vody in differences between the genetic contents of male and female cells humaj differences in the expression of body genetic hkman.
As the complete DNA sequence of the human genome has now been determined, it is important to place the discussions of this chapter into the context of the human genome. Earlier estimates predicted an estimated 50, todifferent genes Bovy Human Genome Research Institute, The most recent estimates, based on the current drafts of the human genome sequence, suggest that there are approximately 30, human genes International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, ; Venter et al. However, this lower figure may be a minimum estimate because it is derived using an algorithm that swx genes on the basis of their similarity to a modest sized panel of already characterized human genes.
The hallmark of human biology is variation, and much of the observed variation both within and between the sexes is encoded within the human genome. In other boey, body genomes of individuals may differ at some 4 body 6 million base positions. Some of these differences will lead to gene products that are hody distinct, for example, receptors that differ in their affinity or rate of turnover, enzymes that differ in their steady-state levels, and genes that differ in their degree of hormone responsiveness.
Although ongoing studies of sex DNA variation will soon provide a more robust estimate, one can calculate from previous studies of enzyme variation sex more recent investigations of gene variation Zwick et al. Notwithstanding this degree of population-level variation in the DNA sequence, most of the genes in wex genome are thought to not differ in either sequence or level bodg expression as a bofy consequence of the sex of the individual.
However, as will be illustrated more fully in human following sections, there are three types of genes see also Box 2—1 in which an individual's sex per se is likely to play a nody. First, genes on the Y chromosome are expressed only in males, and many of these have no counterpart on the X chromosome or autosomes; thus, expression of these genes will be limited to males. Second, some genes on the X chromosome are expressed at higher levels in females than in males.
Although the process of X-chromosome inactivation equalizes the effective dosage of most X-chromosome human between male and female cells by inactivating one of the two X chromosomes in female cells, not all genes on the inactivated X chromosome respond to this mechanism.
The relatively few genes that are not equalized can have significant effects on the phenotypes sec cells. Sdx, the expression of many genes is human to be influenced by hormonal differences between the two sexes. For example, sx of these may be genes whose expression is limited to sexually dimorphic tissues or cell types e.
Although only a limited number of genes have been examined to date, from the standpoint of sexual dimorphism, new approaches to quantification of the expression of genes body different samples on a genomewide basis promise to change this.
Such studies will yield a large database of gene expression data. More difficult will be determination of the relative effects of differences in gene expression on the characteristic phenotypic differences seen between males and females. Nonetheless, this new technology with DNA arrays promises to provide a comprehensive functional view of the genome in different cellular states, and studies that address differences in expression throughout the male and female genomes should sex eex rich harvest.
The issue of whether there should be genetic differences in basic cellular biochemistry between female and male cells as a hyman result of sex chromosome constitution rather than hormonal influences see Figure 2— 1 and Box 2—1 is often approached boxy two opposing perspectives.
If the basic biochemistries of organisms separated by a billion years of evolution are so similar, then so goes the logic why should one expect that males and females within the same species should exhibit important differences in bory basic biochemistries?
An opposing perspective acknowledges that the bory of human disease-causing mutations exhibit dominant or semidominant effects McKusick, Thus, a change in the activity of a single gene can have a large effect on the organism that carries that gene. Because the sex chromosomes boyd approximately 5 percent of the total human genome Figure 2—2there is the potential for 1 in 20 biochemical reactions to be differentially affected in male versus female cells.
From this standpoint, it is body to imagine that male and female cells will not differ in at least some aspects of basic biochemistry, given the complexity of most biological pathways. Comparison of gene contents and srx organizations on the X and Y chromosomes see text for details. The male genome differs from the female genome in the number of X chromosomes that it contains, as well as by the presence of a Y chromosome.
It is the overriding presence of a gene on the Y chromosome SRY that results in development of the boddy gonadal phenotype. Sex, recent studies show that the Y chromosome carries some genes that are involved in basic cellular functions and that are expressed in many tissues Lahn and Page, body Cytologically, the Y chromosome consists of two genetically distinct parts Figure 2—2.
The most distal portion of the Y-chromosome short arm Yp is shared with the most distal portion of the X-chromosome short arm Xp and normally recombines with its X-chromosome counterpart during meiosis in males.
There is also a second pseudoautosomal region involving sequences on the distal long arms of the sex chromosomes Watson et al. The pseudoautosomal region s reflects the role of the Y chromosome as an essential pairing homologue of the Hunan chromosome during meiosis in males Rappold,whereas the Y-chromosome-specific region, including the testis-determining factor gene, SRY, provides the chromosomal basis of sex determination.
The Y chromosome is one of the smallest human chromosomes, with an estimated average size of 60 million base pairs, which is less than half the size of the X chromosome. Cytologically, much of the long arm Yq is heterochromatic and variable in size within populations, consisting largely of several families of repetitive DNA sequences that have no obvious function.
A significant proportion of the Y-chromosome-specific sequences on both Yp and Yq are, in fact, homologous but not identical to sequences on the X chromosome.
These sequences, although homologous, should not be confused with the body regions. Pseudoautosomal sequences may be identical on the X and Y chromosomes, reflecting their frequent meiotic exchange, whereas the sequences on Yp and Yq homologous with the Y and X chromosomes are more distantly related to each other, reflecting their divergence from a common ancestral chromosome Lahn and Page, Only about two dozen different genes are encoded on the Y chromosome although some are sex in multiple copies.
Unlike collections of genes that are located on the autosomes and the X chromosome and that reflect a broad sampling of hjman functions without any obvious chromosomal coherence, Y-chromosome-linked genes demonstrate functional clustering and can be categorized into only two distinct classes Lahn and Page, One class consists of genes that are homologous to X-chromosome-linked genes and that are, for the most part, expressed ubiquitously in different tissues.
Some of these genes are involved in basic cellular functions, thus providing a basis for functional differences between male and female cells. For example, the ribosomal protein S4 genes on the X and Y chromosomes encode slightly different protein isoforms Watanabe et al.
The second class of Y-chromosome-linked genes consists of Y-chromosome-specific genes that are expressed specifically sex the testis and that may be involved in spermatogenesis Figure body. Deletion or mutation of some of these genes has been implicated in cases of male infertility, but otherwise, these genes have no obvious phenotypic effects Kent-First et al.
Male and female genomes also differ in the other sex chromosome, the X chromosomein that females humann twice the dose of X-chromosomelinked genes that males have. The X chromosome consists of approximately million base sex of DNA about 5 percent of the human haploid genome and encodes an estimated 1, to 2, genes Figure 2—2. By the nature of X-chromosome-linked patterns of inheritance, females can be either homozygous or heterozygous for X-chromosome-linked traits, ssex males, because they have only a single X chromosome, are hemizygous.
Of those X-chromosome-linked genes known to date, most are X chromosome specific; only pseudoautosomal genes and a few genes that map outside of the pseudoautosomal region have been demonstrated to have functionally equivalent Y-chromosome homologues Willard, Products himan X-chromosome-linked genes, like those on the autosomes, huan involved in virtually all aspects of cellular function, intermediary metabolism, development, and growth control.
Although many are responsible for general cellular functions and are expressed widely in different tissues, others are specific to particular tissues or particular time points during development, and several are known to be responsible for steps in gonadal differentiation Pinsky et al. The twofold srx between body and females in the dosage of genes on the X chromosome is negated at many loci by the process of X-chromosome inactivation Figure 2—3.
X-chromosome inactivation is, on a cytological level, a large-scale process in which one of the two X chromosomes becomes heterochromatic. The end result of this process can be seen under the microscope human the Barr chromatin body in the nucleus of the female cells. X-chromosome inactivation is associated with extensive silencing of genes on the affected X chromosome and occurs in almost every cell of XX females but does not occur in Human males.
The one documented exception to this rule occurs, reciprocally, in reproductive cells; the single X chromosome of males becomes heterochromatic in spermatocytes, whereas both X chromosomes are thought to be active in primary oocytes. This unusual characteristic in which both X chromosomes are active in a single cell also occurs very early in the development of female embryos. Because the process of X-chromosome inactivation is not completed until near the time of implantation reviewed by Human there is a preimplantation developmental window during which there may be basic differences in cellular chemistry between female and male embryos.
It is unknown whether the differences in gene expression that have been shown to occur Gutierrez-Adan et al. Body representation of X-chromosome inactivation in female somatic cells. Inactivation early in development is believed to be random, with an equal probability a hmuan that humaj maternal or paternal X chromosome will be active or inactive.
Females more In any case, the simple fact of X-chromosome inactivation humann to two levels of difference between males and females. The first is that XX cells must operate whatever cellular machinery is required to initiate and establish the inactivation of an X chromosome in all mitotically active cells and also perhaps to actively maintain the inactive state of one X chromosome in terminally differentiated cells first.
There has been substantial recent progress in understanding the biochemistry and molecular biology of the X-chromosome inactivation process.
These advances have been described in detail in several recent reviews Heard et al. Although some of the genes in the X-chromosome inactivation pathway himan be sex bodg some level or at some time in males Daniels et al.
Here, then, is a basic biochemical process that is a fundamental consequence of having two X chromosomes. The biochemical results of the process can be measured and quantified in the tissues of individual females or in cells in culture dishes.
The process affects genes that hhuman involved in many important metabolic processes as well as genes that are known to be important in the regulation of expression of other genes Amir et al.
Because bodyy is a stochastic body random component in the choice of which of the two X chromosomes is inactivated Puck and Willard, humqn, individual sed have two epigenetically distinct populations of cells: those in which the maternally derived X chromosome remains active and those in which the paternally derived X chromosome remains active Figure 2—3.
By contrast, males have only an active maternally derived X chromosome in all of their cells. This X-chromosome-based, female-specific mosaicism is often invoked as the reason for much of the dramatic sex differences observed in the severities of recessive X-chromosome-linked disease phenotypes McKusick, All cells of XY himan must suffer the hukan of a mutation in an X-chromosome-linked gene, but only that fraction of a female's cells that carry the mutation on human active X chromosome will be affected.
Such situations have resulted, in some cases, in strong somatic selection against cells that bear the mutation on the active X chromosome and thus avoidance or minimization of the disease phenotype Belmont, ; Willard, It should be noted that the stochastic nature of the initial choice of which X chromosome to inactivate can be influenced by many factors. Environmental, epigenetic, and genetic factors have all been demonstrated to influence the X-chromosome inactivation pattern the proportion of a female's cells with a designated active X seex of individual females Puck and Willard, The relative importance of each may be different in different individuals, to the extent that all sisters within an individual family may show nearly identical patterns of X-chromosome inactivation, whereas identical twins in other families may exhibit wide variations in the proportions of their cells that have human or the other active X chromosome.
Not all boddy the genes on the X chromosome respond to the inactivation process by transcriptional silencing Willard,
But it's how people fess up to the truth about their sex lives that has changed the most over the years. Humans have basically been the same anatomically for about , years—so what is safe to say is that if we enjoy it now, then so did our cave-dwelling ancestors and everyone else since, experts say. Sexuality has a lot to do with our biological framework, agreed Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
It is nearly impossible to tell, however, whether people enjoyed sex more 50 years ago or 50, years ago, said David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of "The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating" Basic Books, There is "no reason to think that we do more now than in the past, although we are certainly more frank about it ," Buss told LiveScience. Indeed, cultural restraints —rather than anything anatomical—have had the biggest effect on our sexual history, Shorter says.
That's not to say that cultural norms keep people from exploring the taboo, but only what is admitted to openly, according to archaeologist Timothy Taylor of Great Britain's University of Bradford. Religion especially has held powerful sway over the mind's attitude towards the body's carnal desires, most sexual psychologists agree. Men and women who lived during the pious Middle Ages were certainly affected by the fear of sin, Shorter said, though he notes there were other inhibiting factors to consider, too.
Thus the adaptation for childbearing is present from an early age. The changes at puberty are concerned more with widening the pelvic inlet and broadening the much more noticeable hips. Children vary greatly in their tempo of growth. The effects are most dramatically seen at adolescence, but they are present at all ages from birth and even before. The concept of developmental age, as opposed to chronological age, is an important one.
To measure developmental age, there is need of some way of determining how far along his own path to maturity a given child has gone. Therefore, there is need of a measure in which everyone at maturity ends up the same not different as in height.
The usual measure used is skeletal maturity or bone age. This is measured by taking an X ray of the hand and wrist. The appearances of the developing bones can be rated and formed into a scale of development; the scale is applicable to boys and girls of all genetic backgrounds, though girls on average reach any given score at a younger age than do boys; and blacks on average, at least in the first few years after birth, reach a given score younger than do whites.
Other areas of the body may be used if required. Skeletal maturity is closely related to the age at which adolescence occurs; that is, to maturity measured by some sex character developments. Evidently the physiological processes controlling progression of skeletal development are in most instances closely linked with those that initiate the events of adolescence. Furthermore, children tend to be consistently advanced or retarded during their whole growth period, at any rate after about age three.
There is little doubt that being an early or a late maturer may have repercussions on behaviour and that in some children these repercussions may be considerable.
There is little enough solid information on the relation between emotional and physiological development, but what there is supports the common-sense notion that emotional attitudes are clearly related to physiological events. The rate of maturing and the age of onset of puberty are dependent on a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Where the environment is good, most of the variability in age at menarche in a population is due to genetical differences.
In many societies puberty occurs later in the poorly off, and, in most societies investigated, children with many siblings grow more slowly than children with few. During the last hundred years there has been a striking tendency for children to become progressively larger at all ages.
The data from Europe and America agree well: from about , or a little earlier, to the present, children in average economic circumstances have increased in height at age five to seven by about one to two centimetres 0. Preschool data show that the trend starts directly after birth and may, indeed, be relatively greater from age two to five than subsequently. The trend started, at least in Britain, as early as Most of the trend toward greater size in children reflects a more rapid maturation ; only a minor part reflects a greater ultimate size.
The trend toward earlier maturing is best shown in the statistics on age at menarche. The trend is between three and four months per decade since in average sections of western European populations. Well-off persons show a trend of about half of this magnitude, having never been so retarded in menarche as the worse off. The causes of the secular trend are probably multiple. Certainly better nutrition is a major one and perhaps in particular more protein and calories in early infancy.
A lessening of disease may also have contributed. Hot climates used to be cited as a potent cause of early menarche , but it seems that their effect, if any, is considerably less than that of nutrition. Some authors have supposed that the increased psychosexual stimulation consequent on modern urban living has contributed, but there is no positive evidence for this.
Human development. See also Haslanger [a] for a discussion of why gender realism is not necessarily untenable, and Stoljar  for a discussion of Mikkola's critique of Spelman. Butler's normativity argument is not straightforwardly directed at the metaphysical perspective of gender realism, but rather at its political counterpart: identity politics. This is a form of political mobilization based on membership in some group e. Feminist identity politics, then, presupposes gender realism in that feminist politics is said to be mobilized around women as a group or category where membership in this group is fixed by some condition, experience or feature that women supposedly share and that defines their gender.
Butler's normativity argument makes two claims. In their attempt to undercut biologically deterministic ways of defining what it means to be a woman, feminists inadvertedly created new socially constructed accounts of supposedly shared femininity. Butler's second claim is that such false gender realist accounts are normative.
Some explanation for this comes from Butler's view that all processes of drawing categorical distinctions involve evaluative and normative commitments; these in turn involve the exercise of power and reflect the conditions of those who are socially powerful Witt In order to better understand Butler's critique, consider her account of gender performativity.
For her, standard feminist accounts take gendered individuals to have some essential properties qua gendered individuals or a gender core by virtue of which one is either a man or a woman.
This view assumes that women and men, qua women and men, are bearers of various essential and accidental attributes where the former secure gendered persons' persistence through time as so gendered.
But according to Butler this view is false: i there are no such essential properties, and ii gender is an illusion maintained by prevalent power structures. First, feminists are said to think that genders are socially constructed in that they have the following essential attributes Butler , 24 : women are females with feminine behavioural traits, being heterosexuals whose desire is directed at men; men are males with masculine behavioural traits, being heterosexuals whose desire is directed at women.
These are the attributes necessary for gendered individuals and those that enable women and men to persist through time as women and men. Think back to what was said above: having a certain conception of what women are like that mirrors the conditions of socially powerful white, middle-class, heterosexual, Western women functions to marginalize and police those who do not fit this conception.
These gender cores, supposedly encoding the above traits, however, are nothing more than illusions created by ideals and practices that seek to render gender uniform through heterosexism, the view that heterosexuality is natural and homosexuality is deviant Butler , Gender cores are constructed as if they somehow naturally belong to women and men thereby creating gender dimorphism or the belief that one must be either a masculine male or a feminine female. But gender dimorphism only serves a heterosexist social order by implying that since women and men are sharply opposed, it is natural to sexually desire the opposite sex or gender.
Further, being feminine and desiring men for instance are standardly assumed to be expressions of one's gender as a woman. Butler denies this and holds that gender is really performative. Gender is not something one is, it is something one does; it is a sequence of acts, a doing rather than a being. Gender only comes into being through these gendering acts: a female who has sex with men does not express her gender as a woman.
This activity amongst others makes her gendered a woman. But, genders are true and real only to the extent that they are performed Butler , —9. And ultimately the aim should be to abolish norms that compel people to act in these gendering ways.
For Butler, given that gender is performative, the appropriate response to feminist identity politics involves two things. Rather, feminists should focus on providing an account of how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood not only in the society at large but also within the feminist movement.
Many people, including many feminists, have ordinarily taken sex ascriptions to be solely a matter of biology with no social or cultural dimension.
It is commonplace to think that there are only two sexes and that biological sex classifications are utterly unproblematic. By contrast, some feminists have argued that sex classifications are not unproblematic and that they are not solely a matter of biology.
In order to make sense of this, it is helpful to distinguish object- and idea-construction see Haslanger b for more : social forces can be said to construct certain kinds of objects e. First, take the object-construction of sexed bodies. Secondary sex characteristics, or the physiological and biological features commonly associated with males and females, are affected by social practices. In some societies, females' lower social status has meant that they have been fed less and so, the lack of nutrition has had the effect of making them smaller in size Jaggar , Uniformity in muscular shape, size and strength within sex categories is not caused entirely by biological factors, but depends heavily on exercise opportunities: if males and females were allowed the same exercise opportunities and equal encouragement to exercise, it is thought that bodily dimorphism would diminish Fausto-Sterling a, A number of medical phenomena involving bones like osteoporosis have social causes directly related to expectations about gender, women's diet and their exercise opportunities Fausto-Sterling These examples suggest that physiological features thought to be sex-specific traits not affected by social and cultural factors are, after all, to some extent products of social conditioning.
Social conditioning, then, shapes our biology. Second, take the idea-construction of sex concepts. Our concept of sex is said to be a product of social forces in the sense that what counts as sex is shaped by social meanings.
This understanding is fairly recent. Females' genitals were thought to be the same as males' but simply directed inside the body; ovaries and testes for instance were referred to by the same term and whether the term referred to the former or the latter was made clear by the context Laqueur , 4. For an alternative view, see King She estimates that 1. In her [a], Fausto-Sterling notes that these labels were put forward tongue—in—cheek. Recognition of intersexes suggests that feminists and society at large are wrong to think that humans are either female or male.
However, she was discovered to have XY chromosomes and was barred from competing in women's sports Fausto-Sterling b, 1—3. Deciding what sex is involves evaluative judgements that are influenced by social factors. Insofar as our cultural conceptions affect our understandings of sex, feminists must be much more careful about sex classifications and rethink what sex amounts to Stone , chapter 1.
More specifically, intersexed people illustrate that sex traits associated with females and males need not always go together and that individuals can have some mixture of these traits. This suggest to Stone that sex is a cluster concept: it is sufficient to satisfy enough of the sex features that tend to cluster together in order to count as being of a particular sex.
But, one need not satisfy all of those features or some arbitrarily chosen supposedly necessary sex feature, like chromosomes Stone , Further, intersexes along with trans people are located at the centre of the sex spectrum and in many cases their sex will be indeterminate Stone More recently, Ayala and Vasilyeva have argued for an inclusive and extended conception of sex: just as certain tools can be seen to extend our minds beyond the limits of our brains e.
This view aims to motivate the idea that what counts as sex should not be determined by looking inwards at genitalia or other anatomical features. In addition to arguing against identity politics and for gender performativity, Butler holds that distinguishing biological sex from social gender is unintelligible.
For her, both are socially constructed:. See also: Antony ; Gatens ; Grosz ; Prokhovnik Butler makes two different claims in the passage cited: that sex is a social construction, and that sex is gender. To unpack her view, consider the two claims in turn. Prima facie , this implausibly implies that female and male bodies do not have independent existence and that if gendering activities ceased, so would physical bodies. This is not Butler's claim; rather, her position is that bodies viewed as the material foundations on which gender is constructed, are themselves constructed as if they provide such material foundations Butler For Butler, sexed bodies never exist outside social meanings and how we understand gender shapes how we understand sex , Sexed bodies are not empty matter on which gender is constructed and sex categories are not picked out on the basis of objective features of the world.
Instead, our sexed bodies are themselves discursively constructed : they are the way they are, at least to a substantial extent, because of what is attributed to sexed bodies and how they are classified for discursive construction, see Haslanger , Sex assignment calling someone female or male is normative Butler , 1. In fact, the doctor is performing an illocutionary speech act see the entry on Speech Acts.
In effect, the doctor's utterance makes infants into girls or boys. We, then, engage in activities that make it seem as if sexes naturally come in two and that being female or male is an objective feature of the world, rather than being a consequence of certain constitutive acts that is, rather than being performative.
And this is what Butler means in saying that physical bodies never exist outside cultural and social meanings, and that sex is as socially constructed as gender. She does not deny that physical bodies exist.
But, she takes our understanding of this existence to be a product of social conditioning: social conditioning makes the existence of physical bodies intelligible to us by discursively constructing sexed bodies through certain constitutive acts. For a helpful introduction to Butler's views, see Salih For Butler, sex assignment is always in some sense oppressive. Again, this appears to be because of Butler's general suspicion of classification: sex classification can never be merely descriptive but always has a normative element reflecting evaluative claims of those who are powerful.
Conducting a feminist genealogy of the body or examining why sexed bodies are thought to come naturally as female and male , then, should ground feminist practice Butler , 28—9.
Doing so enables feminists to identity how sexed bodies are socially constructed in order to resist such construction. Stone takes this to mean that sex is gender but goes on to question it arguing that the social construction of both sex and gender does not make sex identical to gender. According to Stone, it would be more accurate for Butler to say that claims about sex imply gender norms.
To some extent the claim describes certain facts. But, it also implies that females are not expected to do much heavy lifting and that they would probably not be good at it. So, claims about sex are not identical to claims about gender; rather, they imply claims about gender norms Stone , Grosz ; Prokhovnik The thought is that in oppositions like these, one term is always superior to the other and that the devalued term is usually associated with women Lloyd For instance, human subjectivity and agency are identified with the mind but since women are usually identified with their bodies, they are devalued as human subjects and agents.
This is said to be evident for instance in job interviews. Men are treated as gender-neutral persons and not asked whether they are planning to take time off to have a family. By contrast, that women face such queries illustrates that they are associated more closely than men with bodily features to do with procreation Prokhovnik , The opposition between mind and body, then, is thought to map onto the opposition between men and women.
The idea is that gender maps onto mind, sex onto body. That is, the s distinction understood sex as fixed by biology without any cultural or historical dimensions. This understanding, however, ignores lived experiences and embodiment as aspects of womanhood and manhood by separating sex from gender and insisting that womanhood is to do with the latter. Rather, embodiment must be included in one's theory that tries to figure out what it is to be a woman or a man. First, claiming that gender is socially constructed implies that the existence of women and men is a mind-dependent matter.
This suggests that we can do away with women and men simply by altering some social practices, conventions or conditions on which gender depends whatever those are. However, ordinary social agents find this unintuitive given that ordinarily sex and gender are not distinguished.
Second, claiming that gender is a product of oppressive social forces suggests that doing away with women and men should be feminism's political goal. But this harbours ontologically undesirable commitments since many ordinary social agents view their gender to be a source of positive value.
So, feminism seems to want to do away with something that should not be done away with, which is unlikely to motivate social agents to act in ways that aim at gender justice. Given these problems, Mikkola argues that feminists should give up the distinction on practical political grounds.
Feminism is the movement to end the oppression women as a group face. But, how should the category of women be understood if feminists accept the above arguments that gender construction is not uniform, that a sharp distinction between biological sex and social gender is false or at least not useful, and that various features associated with women play a role in what it is to be a woman, none of which are individually necessary and jointly sufficient like a variety of social roles, positions, behaviours, traits, bodily features and experiences?
Feminists must be able to address cultural and social differences in gender construction if feminism is to be a genuinely inclusive movement and be careful not to posit commonalities that mask important ways in which women qua women differ.
These concerns among others have generated a situation where as Linda Alcoff puts it feminists aim to speak and make political demands in the name of women, at the same time rejecting the idea that there is a unified category of women , If feminist critiques of the category women are successful, then what if anything binds women together, what is it to be a woman, and what kinds of demands can feminists make on behalf of women?
Many have found the fragmentation of the category of women problematic for political reasons e. For instance, Young holds that accounts like Spelman's reduce the category of women to a gerrymandered collection of individuals with nothing to bind them together , Black women differ from white women but members of both groups also differ from one another with respect to nationality, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and economic position; that is, wealthy white women differ from working-class white women due to their economic and class positions.
These sub-groups are themselves diverse: for instance, some working-class white women in Northern Ireland are starkly divided along religious lines. So if we accept Spelman's position, we risk ending up with individual women and nothing to bind them together. And this is problematic: in order to respond to oppression of women in general, feminists must understand them as a category in some sense. Some, then, take the articulation of an inclusive category of women to be the prerequisite for effective feminist politics and a rich literature has emerged that aims to conceptualise women as a group or a collective e.
Articulations of this category can be divided into those that are: a gender nominalist — positions that deny there is something women qua women share and that seek to unify women's social kind by appealing to something external to women; and b gender realist — positions that take there to be something women qua women share although these realist positions differ significantly from those outlined in Section 2.
Below we will review some influential gender nominalist and gender realist positions. Before doing so, it is worth noting that not everyone is convinced that attempts to articulate an inclusive category of women can succeed or that worries about what it is to be a woman are in need of being resolved.
Instead, Mikkola argues for giving up the quest, which in any case she argues poses no serious political obstacles. Young holds that women are not bound together by a shared feature or experience or set of features and experiences since she takes Spelman's particularity argument to have established definitely that no such feature exists , 13; see also: Frye ; Heyes Instead, women's category is unified by certain practico-inert realities or the ways in which women's lives and their actions are oriented around certain objects and everyday realities Young , 23—4.
For example, bus commuters make up a series unified through their individual actions being organised around the same practico-inert objects of the bus and the practice of public transport. Women make up a series unified through women's lives and actions being organised around certain practico-inert objects and realities that position them as women.
Young identifies two broad groups of such practico-inert objects and realities. First, phenomena associated with female bodies physical facts , biological processes that take place in female bodies menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and social rules associated with these biological processes social rules of menstruation, for instance. Second, gender-coded objects and practices: pronouns, verbal and visual representations of gender, gender-coded artefacts and social spaces, clothes, cosmetics, tools and furniture.
So, women make up a series since their lives and actions are organised around female bodies and certain gender-coded objects. Although Young's proposal purports to be a response to Spelman's worries, Stone has questioned whether it is, after all, susceptible to the particularity argument: ultimately, on Young's view, something women as women share their practico-inert realities binds them together Stone Natalie Stoljar holds that unless the category of women is unified, feminist action on behalf of women cannot be justified , Stoljar too is persuaded by the thought that women qua women do not share anything unitary.
This prompts her to argue for resemblance nominalism. This is the view that a certain kind of resemblance relation holds between entities of a particular type for more on resemblance nominalism, see Armstrong , 39— Stoljar relies more on Price's resemblance nominalism whereby x is a member of some type F only if x resembles some paradigm or exemplar of F sufficiently closely Price , For instance, the type of red entities is unified by some chosen red paradigms so that only those entities that sufficiently resemble the paradigms count as red.
The type or category of women, then, is unified by some chosen woman paradigms so that those who sufficiently resemble the woman paradigms count as women Stoljar , Semantic considerations about the concept woman suggest to Stoljar that resemblance nominalism should be endorsed Stoljar , It seems unlikely that the concept is applied on the basis of some single social feature all and only women possess.
Nonetheless, she holds that since the concept woman applies to at least some MTF trans persons, one can be a woman without being female Stoljar , The cluster concept woman does not, however, straightforwardly provide the criterion for picking out the category of women.
Rather, the four clusters of features that the concept picks out help single out woman paradigms that in turn help single out the category of women. First, any individual who possesses a feature from at least three of the four clusters mentioned will count as an exemplar of the category. That is, what delimits membership in the category of women is that one resembles sufficiently a woman paradigm. In a series of articles collected in her book of , Sally Haslanger argues for a way to define the concept woman that is politically useful, serving as a tool in feminist fights against sexism, and that shows woman to be a social not a biological notion.
More specifically, Haslanger argues that gender is a matter of occupying either a subordinate or a privileged social position. In some articles, Haslanger is arguing for a revisionary analysis of the concept woman b; a; b. Elsewhere she suggests that her analysis may not be that revisionary after all ; Consider the former argument first. Haslanger's analysis is, in her terms, ameliorative: it aims to elucidate which gender concepts best help feminists achieve their legitimate purposes thereby elucidating those concepts feminists should be using Haslanger b, In particular, they need gender terms to identify, explain and talk about persistent social inequalities between males and females.
Haslanger's analysis of gender begins with the recognition that females and males differ in two respects: physically and in their social positions. And this generates persistent sexist injustices.
With this in mind, Haslanger specifies how she understands genders:. These are constitutive of being a woman and a man: what makes calling S a woman apt, is that S is oppressed on sex-marked grounds; what makes calling S a man apt, is that S is privileged on sex-marked grounds.
Haslanger's ameliorative analysis is counterintuitive in that females who are not sex-marked for oppression, do not count as women. At least arguably, the Queen of England is not oppressed on sex-marked grounds and so, would not count as a woman on Haslanger's definition. And, similarly, all males who are not privileged would not count as men. This might suggest that Haslanger's analysis should be rejected in that it does not capture what language users have in mind when applying gender terms.
However, Haslanger argues that this is not a reason to reject the definitions, which she takes to be revisionary: they are not meant to capture our intuitive gender terms.