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The Theme Of Biological Identity In Fausto-Sterling'S, Lorber'S & Sapolsky'S Articles

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In these articles the theme of biological identity is portrayed as the driving force to social identity. We can see that these articles show how gender identity is defined by the physiological factors of a person in relation to social cultural norms, but not taking into account on the true feelings and thoughts of an individual. Gender is seen mostly through a biological aspect but not so much as an ideological one. In these articles, they all give an insight to how we establish gender with physiology to confine with the social norms but not true personal individual identities.

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In “The Five Sexes, Revisited,” Fausto-Sterling gives us a view into how biologically there are more than just the two genders we are so accustomed to seeing in the mass media. There are many biological factors that exist in the human body that can make a person male, female or an intersexual. By placing specific values onto males and females, it is unfair and unjust to fully represent the “full spectrum of human sexuality,” (Fausto-Sterling, 2000, p. 19).

Gender has always been put into male or female categories, but what if an individual has biological parts from both genders? This creates a problem for most doctors and specialists to try to solve and fix when the individual is just an infant. I believe this is quite harmful to the individual because they don’t have the intellect and the thought processes to choose what they want in life at that time. By taking away their right to select what they are comfortable with will deeply affect their psychological health in the future. It is so dominant in society that we must fit into these norms of either being fully masculine or fully feminine that it creates an alienated image for individuals who may not be fully biologically male or female.

These ideas from Fausto-Sterling tie into what Lorber says in “”Believing Is Seeing: Biology as Ideology”. Lorber dives into the idea that there is a clear difference in society between men and women:“… we see two discrete sexes and two distinguishable genders because our society is built on two classes of people, “women” and “men.” Once the gender category is given, the attributes of the person are also gendered: Whatever a “woman” is has to be “female”; whatever a “man” is has to be “male.” (p. 569)This adds onto the idea of Fausto-Sterling and how biologically seen attributes of a person are the basis of gender determination. Identifying as female and male doesn’t necessarily need the physiological factors but more fundamentally the true beliefs of the individual.

In both texts we see how the authors push the idea of gender being shown biologically compared to the social cultural aspect. The social construct of gender needs to be changed to allow a gender-neutral stance. Through time gender has been manipulated by cultures and societies, which have created this stereotypical image of what it means to be a masculine or feminine. People are put into levels of hierarchy where men are seen in a higher position than women and must carry specific activities to fulfil their role as either gender.

Society places these strict standards that make people feel uncomfortable and pressured to confine to what is seen as masculine or feminine. Growing up I was a smaller sized male in terms of height and was usually pushed to groups with females due to my stature. I was also an artistic, vocally musical student that enjoyed wearing vibrant colours. Due to this I was looked down on, bullied and mocked for being feminine just because of my interests and the way I was viewed was not fitting into the societal terms of being a boy. Although I had tough enough skin to surpass these moments, it has still impacted the way I am today, in how I dress and act and fit in according to what a “man” is supposed to be like. This personal experience makes it clear that what Fausto-Sterling says is true.

Gender is socially constructed and stereotypical to either be male or female due to biological factors disregarding whether or not the identification of one. There needs to be a more dissolved ideology of the two genders and not making it into such a dichotomy between male and female, changing the societal boundaries and reducing the pressure to confine fully to one specific gender and not embracing other traits fixed to the opposite sex.

Even in the last article of “Testosterone Rules,” Sapolsky gives us insight on the biological aspects of the male body in relation to anger and testosterone. He speaks on how testosterone, a hormone produced by males doesn’t necessarily contribute to the violent and rough imagery we tend to attach to men. In the article he speaks on how aggression is, “more complex than a single hormone” (Sapolsky, 1997) and how it is formed due to social factors and environment in which the individual was placed in. Again, this article goes onto the idea where we focus on the physiological aspects and use that to drive gender roles.

These articles all add up to give a strong insight to the social-cultural barriers that are placed into gender and how we see gender in a strictly biological aspect. We can see that the effects of this are very detrimental to all members of society when conforming to the roles set in place. As we take a look into the greater picture of things it is evident that gender is a true social construct on the basis of men being men because of certain physiological factors and the same for women.

In the biological aspects we can see that men and women are much more similar than thought and that there shouldn’t be such a great divide between the two genders. By learning and understanding more of the differences and similarities between male and females, there will be a more accepting society to people who may not fully conform to those two main genders. Accepting people for who they are and not judging them by their gender and sexuality will change the stereotypical views of people.


  1. Fausto-Sterling, A. (2017). The Five Sexes, Revisited. Lorber, J. (1993). Believing Is Seeing. Gender & Society, 7(4), 568-581.
  2. Sapolsky, R. (1997). Testosterone Rules. Retrieved from http://discovermagazine.com/1997/mar/testosteronerule1077

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