The “culture of biomedicine” acknowledges that although we may believe biomedicine to be factual and truth-laden, it is actually a construct of Western society and therefore, not so autonomous from our cultural context.  This means that biomedicine can be studied anthropologically, just as any other cultural institution and simply offers a particular ideology on medicine that is becoming more widely accepted.

I view the male/female dichotomy almost entirely on a biological basis with genetic makeup as its’ main determinant.  Gender roles are not written in stone and are, in my opinion, more convergent than ever and thus, unimportant in the definition of my own male/female dichotomy.  Stay-at-home dads are not uncommon nowadays, but that role was once almost exclusively reserved as the role of some women.  Some might argue the man is fulfilling the role of the woman in this situation and might not consider him a male.  I would disagree vehemently with this because I define gender/sex biologically.  The only gray area within my definition is with transgenders/transexuals who cannot change their genetic makeup, but wish to identify with a different gender through a non-genetic means.  It is difficult to decide whether cases such as these should be independent of genetic makeup in determining sex.  I think my view is heavily influenced by my area of study in human biology, and my desire to find truths through what I would consider factual information (genetic makeup).

I think this dichotomy is accepted as logical in Western society for a variety of reasons.  There is an obvious outward difference between male/female that can be explained biologically, and as such, it has become a truth in our society.  I also believe that even though gender roles are blending, their history serves to reinforce the idea that males and females are inherently opposites.


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  1. Alexis Snyder says:

    In my opinion, male and female dichotomy may seem black and white, but as you pointed out, it defintely has its gray areas. However, I think it is very important for clinicians to understand this dichotomy. In the field of medicine, there are several issues, even some we have covered in class that would be very beneficial for a doctor to understand male/female dichotomy. They can learn to be sensitive when it comes to “gender specific” illnesses which can lead to wrongful prescriptions of medication that patients don’t need. Women wouldn’t have to feel pressured to succumb to the belief that they have PMS due to a few general symptoms, and men who experience ED sparsely wouldn’t feel the need to take viagara because they are actually normal. However, if this is taken for granted and becomes too “gender specific” then actual problems may be ignored. As discussed before, post partum depression is seen by some as a woman specific illness. Following the example of dichotomy I have pointed out can lead to men with PPD to be left out.

    Another way to view this dichotomy is purely biological. That men are men only because of their genetics and the same for women, but all are human. This can provide a fairness and a equally amongst diagnosising men and women so an illness like PPD is not automatically thought as female. However, the negative side to this is one you have pointed out in your post regarding transgenders. Their feelings would be ignored if the dichotomy of male/female was biological, and in my opinion transgenders feeling are credible.

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