The Impediment of Dueling with Dualism
The first chapter of Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto Sterling is aptly titled ‘Dueling Dualism’, discusses the problems in a binary description of Sexuality and Gender. This essay disagrees and argues against the opposition of dichotomy.
In the first section ‘Male or Female’, Sterling begins with the example of Maria Patino, the Spanish athlete and her fight against sex testing for female athletes. The gender test done by the IOC, which she argues is not favourable to women and is based on the belief that the ‘very act of women competing implies that they could not be a true women’1. This argument cannot be entirely disregarded as many rules of the sporting games are different for men and women, and also the method for this sex determination is demeaning and controversial. Yet the validity of this argument that testing was done on women because the IOC felt that any women competing in any sporting event was not a true women can be disputed2 as the very first instance of sex testing or Gender determination as it is called in the olympics was done to prevent men from competing as women in sporting events held only for women. Sterling herself gives the example of Hermann Ratjen, member of the Nazi youth who competed as a women named ‘Dora’ and went to the finals of the games. Though he lost in the finals, his inclusion into the final race itself can be seen as cheating, as he was a man competing in a women's event. The inclusion of the test, thus was to prevent such incidents, which is required to maintain the spirit of fair competition in a women’s sporting event. The fact that the test was included so as to prevent injustice to female athletes cannot be entirely disregarded.
The second section ‘Sex or Gender ?’ discusses the difference between the sexual difference and gender difference in boys and girls. Foster Sterling makes the claim that labelling a person as a man or a women is a Social decision. Science can help...