Male/Female

The culture of biomedicine is how the medical system interacts with the culture and how it is in turn influenced by the culture at large. This relationship is very important to understand because it has a great influence on how the medical system works within our culture, and therefore how we have access to and get treatment in the biomedical system.

I choose the dichotomy of male vs. female. My own person view is quite broad when it comes to the definition of what makes someone a male or a female, a man or a woman, and even a mother or a father. I think my own personal views were developed during my adolescent years, where I embraced a much more liberal and open view than I had been previously exposed to. I became very tolerant and excepting of all people, I think the fact that I went to a very small, somewhat racist high school, caused me to go the complete opposite direction on how I defined social roles, particularly gender roles.

I think that people use nature as an excuse to have very narrow roles on the view of sex vs. gender. They often do not take in account that when it comes to nature, really there are many different sexes, not just male and female. Like what was mentioned in lecture, there are hermaphrodites, people with XXX, XXY chromosomes, and many other combinations. In the past these people were seen as abnormal or irregular, but with the increase of medical knowledge and genetics, it is my hope that these people will be seen as just another form of a natural biological sex. And also, hopefully these people will not be forced to choose to confine themselves to one gender role, to have to pick if they are a girl or a boy, if they do not want to make the distinction. I think as we learn more about genetics, sex and gender roles will both become broader and more inclusive.

6 thoughts on “Male/Female

  1. I feel as though it is important for clinicians to understand this particular dichotomy, since male and female aren’t the only sexes out there. There are individuals that are born interest; this can be a female that has testes instead of ovaries, an individual with both a penis and vagina, XXX or XXY chromosomes, and several other combinations. In the past if a baby was born with both parts, parents had to choose whether or not they wanted their child to be male or female. In most of these situations, doctors would encourage parents to surgically change their children’s genitalia to one of a female, since it would be easier to surgically construct. The implications of this, would be that most of these children would grow up feeling as though they were one gender, though their sex was different, due to choices made before they were able to voice how they felt about their bodies.
    An alternative way to conceptualize this is by what is happening currently; society is coming around and doctors aren’t pushing parents to choose what sex their children should be, according to past societal standards. They are leaving it open to the children to decide when they are old enough to figure out how they feel about what they are and who they are as individuals, and the decision will be made then, if they choose to make one.
    One way that our society could make things better would be by taking off what sex you are on job applications, birth certificates, and other sets of documents tat ions.

  2. I completely agree with everything you said. I think it is extremely important for clinicians to understand the value of an individual’s personal choice. Sex vs. gender is an ongoing issue in today’s society. As it was discussed in lecture, some people are not born just male or female; they can have an extra X chromosome, or Y chromosome. As a result, they shouldn’t have to necessarily define themselves as a male or a female. I think if clinicians are to help understand this better, it might help an adolescent, let’s say, feel comfortable on where to fit in. I think conceptualizing this dichotomy as a freedom of choice, and having an open mind would help a lot. Obviously times are changing, in my opinion, for the better, and pushing an open mind on the newer and older generations would help to displace the use of labels. Having to define yourself as one thing or another is kind of outdated. I’ve learned in some cultures, there is even a third type of gender to define yourself as. A benefit of not “putting a label” on someone would be just that; not having to label yourself. A drawback is something as simple as which bathroom to enter at a restaurant; men’s or women’s?

  3. I agree with your view on the male female dichotomy and that most people do use nature as an excuse to narrow the roles of sex and gender. Clinicians need to understand that even if they assign one particular gender role to a person, it is ultimately up to the person to embrace or reject that role. When you consider the fact that sex and gender roles can be changed in our society, it seems to be logical that the individual should be the final word on which gender/sex they want to be. If they decide to take this choice into their own hands, without consulting the patient, it may end up doing great psychological harm to the patient. Clinicians need to be open minded and willing to discuss these matters with their patients. That being said, in our society it would be quite hard to find an alternative to the preconceived gender roles. We currently see people as male, female or transgender, which already allows for a third gender role, however this does create some issues. These issues are encountered anywhere that we would expect the standard gender roles to apply such as raising children, governmental classification (demographic information and such), certain work positions and medical areas.

  4. I believe that it is very important for clinicians to understand the dichotomy between male and female, in that it is not a simple difference, but more of a continuum. There are so many different possibilities that could happen, even though XX female and XY male are the most common, the other genotypes and phenotypes are still people, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect and same quality of care that everyone has. Tradition has dictated that if a child is born indistinguishable genitalia and sex then the parents would choose for the child. The idea behind this is that then the child could grow up being one of the two accepted genders and not have to feel like a “freak” because they did not meet the societal standard.

    An alternative way to work with this dichotomy is currently going on. In one of my classes on gender in science, we talked about how there is a movement going on encouraging parents to leave their children intersex until they are old enough to make their own decision. This way there would be no worry of parents choosing the “wrong” gender for their children. Society is also starting to change in that there is much less gender diversity, so less pressure to be one or the other. There is a lot more that could be done though, as mentioned already, like making sex a necessary part on so many things, or offer other option than just male or female.

  5. Western biomedicine espouses a binary reading of both sex and gender. On the one hand, sex is perceived as an objective, clinically observable phenomenon, ascertained by the complement of sex chromosomes inherited. In contrast, gender is perceived as cultural caricatures of male and female identity, and concomitant gender roles that dictate masculine and feminine scripts of behavior. Within biomedicine, gender is assigned based on self-affiliation and embodiment of traditional masculine or feminine attributes, while sex is a visible, unalterable feature discerned by physical inspection. Due to biomedical paradigms that juxtapose male and female physiology, and frame developmental trajectory and predisposition to disease along male and female lines, a dichotomous interpretation of sex and gender that views them as incompatible constructs (one biological, one cultural) are taken as natural. If this dualistic understanding is taken for granted as fact by physicians, aberrations from the male and female prototypes are characterized as abnormal or defective, thus marginalizing intersex individuals and promoting unnecessary surgical operations for the sake of aesthetic conformity. Instead of celebrating diversity and adopting more inclusive definitions of sex and gender, this reinforces rigid sex and gender ideology and leads to the internalization of negative self image by individuals occupying ambiguous ‘third sex’ categories, including those with Mosaic pattern (XXY), Turner’s Syndrome (XO), and Klinefelter’s Syndrome (XXY).

    An alternative approach is to reorient our views of sex and gender as occurring along a spectrum of variation instead of as a neat two-sided division, thereby encompassing more individuals along a range of normality. Also, more flexible definitions of sex and gender will allow acknowledgement of the reciprocal, bidirectional influence that notions of biological sex and gender-typical customs, practices, and performativity exert on each other. Moreover, dangers of claiming biological imperative as natural justification for subjugation of one sex and gender stratification can be avoided by adopting a view of gender and sex as non-mutually exclusive entities. But, drawbacks of this alternative conception include veering too far from addressing sex-specific issues such as menstruation and menopause. Also, tolerating a wider range of anatomy as normal could lead to neglecting life-threatening problems in irregular genitalia that necessitate correction.

  6. The medical dichotomy of male vs. female is extremely important when understanding health and illness. Outside of our biological genders, there are roles that we fulfill according to our sexes. These roles are man-made, and established by society in order to provide some sort of stability and order. They are important in defining what needs to be done in order to create a more efficient society, however, societal roles are rapidly changing as well as the understanding of how these roles affect the daily lives of people. Right now, society accepts that women can work for the government, however, many Americans still do not want a woman president. Is that due to differences in gender roles or to the characteristics people apply to those genders and accept as truth.

    If clinicians take these roles for granted, then illnesses specific to women/men in specific environments can not be understood. A woman who suffers from PTSD after coming back from the war will have a completely different experience than a man who suffers the same illness. Although, it would be nice to not establish these roles to begin with, but the roles have that foundation in the biological nature of genders. It wouldn’t be reasonable to completely throw away these defined titles, but learning to think outside of our trained social intelligence would be the first step in seeing benefits.

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