Is gender a biological or cultural construction?
Can you be a man and a woman at the same time? Are there more than two genders?
It may be that the man-woman distinction, which predominates in the West, is the hegemonic one, but it is not safe from the desire of power groups to force it into obsolescence.
To say that one is a man, when being biologically born a woman and vice versa, is widely celebrated now more than ever.
Feminist, transgender and the media celebrate openly when the biological nature of an individual is denied just because someone wants to.
Every time that biological gender is denied, it is seen by these groups as a battle that has been won, although they can’t tell who they won against. Maybe against themselves.
It is more and more common to read in the press about the negatives of gender binarism and less developed cultures are mentioned as examples of societies where having a multi gender population is a positive social feature rather than a negative one.
Some media outlets dedicate special reports about the existence of ethnic groups with ‘multiple genres’. These groups are presented as having ‘more flexible and dynamic’ social structures that those is inspired by biology, because according to them such social organizations take into account the cultural interpretation of their realities.
In the West, the reality of being male or female is defined according to a biological reality where it is determined whether an individual, human or not, is male or female. From there one starts to define the gender.
The binary sex / gender system was implanted in the West from the “Judeo-Christian model”. This model, established in the Middle Ages, was based on religious marriage as the only space for sexuality and was oriented among other things to promote reproduction.
The movement to create multiple genres, in disagreement with biology, comes from the 19th century, when the “bio-political or biomedical model” was introduced to pathologize sexual and gender diversity.
The colonization of many parts of the world turned the binary system into the hegemonic one, but some ethnic groups resisted the westernization of their customs and even today they preserve socio-sexual structures that contemplate the existence of more than two genders.
Some of these societies, which are present on all five continents, have what is known as a third gender.
For example, the Xanith of Oman; hijras, koti, panti, aravani, zenana jogin and siva-sati from India; the Filipino Bakla; the Mahu in Polynesia and Australia; the sarombay of the Malagasy Republic, in Madagascar.
There is evidence of individuals in Neapolitan society of the eighteenth century who identified themselves as femminielli and that would fit in the description of “third gender”.
In the West, some leaders such as the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, praise the existence of multi-gender societies, where there are people with both masculine and feminine characteristics and who have, according to him, an excellent consideration within their communities. There, they are considered to be ‘special beings’ capable of challenging the laws of nature.
From the second half of the 20th century, sociological currents began to appear in the West that questioned this idea of sexual and gender binarism, which draw on postmodern feminist theories and converge in what is known as queer theory.
Many authors and experts believe that gender is a cultural construction and that it has nothing to do with anatomy or biology. They say that queer should be considered as an all-encompassing term to expand this range of fluid forms and multiple identities.
Several countries have recently modified their laws to recognize in one way or another the non-binary gender. Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in Europe; and in the rest of the world, countries such as Uruguay, Nepal, New Zealand, Australia and Canada also did the same.
Some writers believe that gender is not something static and permanent throughout a person’s life.
In our society, gender is something established at birth. Parents even try to know in advance to be prepared and register that person in one gender or another and in many cases providing all that symbology related to color.
For many writers and ‘experts’ gender should be socially adapted to the needs of the community, as in the case of the Azande, originals from the regions of Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and which have a population around ten million people.
The socialization of gender is accepted in primitive Eastern cultures, but the justification used there does not fit in the West.
Unlike the West, many African and Asian primitive cultures accept the existence of multiple genders due to necessity, instead of a form of social challenge.
Given the scarcity of women, in African communities, for example, marriage is allowed between young men, ages 12 to 20 years old. They are considered to be women because they perform some of the activities socially assigned to the female gender.
When these young men become adults and warriors will be able to marry other young men, and the warriors will marry women from their community.
In southern Sudan and Ethiopia, the Nuer, whose population is estimated at three and a half million people, allow two women to marry if one of them is infertile.
The latter woman becomes a male and will be responsible for looking for their progenitor, although s/he will continue to play the role of social parent.
The bacha posh of Afghanistan are women who acquire a masculine role because their family has not had any male descendant, to be able to exercise certain rights reserved only to men, such as working and thus helping the family with economic support.
These cases show us that in these communities gender is not a permanent quality in the individual due to social need that exists in their communities, which do not apply to any Western country, where the search for multi-gender identities is done only as a form of social rebellion.
Some Western ‘experts’ promote the idea of studying these African and Asian communities more deeply to justify the creation of new epistemologies that serve to identify those who want to be socially recognized as belonging to another gender that is not male or female.
They argue that the gender classification model based on biology causes contradictions, inequalities, and ambiguities in gender relations.
And you, what do you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Luis Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 20 years and almost every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, geopolitics, globalisation, health, corporate control of government, immigration and banking cartels. Luis has worked as a news reporter, On-air personality for Live news programs, script writer, producer and co-producer on broadcast news.