SEX, GENDER & SEXUALITY-

– DISHA SHEIKH

In the process of classifying Human beings, we generally divide them into ‘male’, ‘female’ & ‘other’. And most of the times we don’t even bother to put in some effort to understand, what & ho all come under this category of ‘other’. Leave that apart, what exactly determines who is male & who is female, beyond the biological markers? The societal structure or the societal system has defined the male-female division, in order to control, exploit natural resources & to put in place certain hierarchies of power and money. The same societal structure has ensured that women & other exploited groups of society are given the status of ‘Goddess’ or other mystical titles so that they do not realize & revolt against the oppression they face.

There is NO NATURAL BASIS for gender inequality. Nature has provided to humans, as it has provided to other animals, certain organs that help us maintain the cycle of Life & Death, nothing more. What nature creates is a mere ‘difference’ in genital organs. It is the human mind, which created a power hierarchy between men &women, based on this natural difference.

Nature bestows upon humans with only three types of bodies- firstly, a body which has a vagina (which the society calls as ‘woman’& treats her like a woman).

Secondly, the body which has a penis (which the society calls as ‘man’& treats him like a man)

Andlastly, a body which naturally does not fall into either category, which can be termed as intersex. In the Indian context, thehijras are an inter-sex group, which are largely shunned by society.

With what body parts we are born, determines our biological sex, but the additional meaning’ that the society around us, attaches to our biological/genital organs, can be termed as gender. Sex and gender are completely different concepts. While Sex might be termed as a ‘natural’ category, gender is a completely man-madeconcept, that has been shaped by humans to manage the relationship between the oppressor & the oppressed.

Let us talk a bit more about gender. People generally speak of three Genders- male, female & the ‘other’/Third Gender. But such a classification has always annoyed me. Who has decided which is the first gender, which is the second gender, because of which the others are always labeled as the ‘Third Gender’? There is a hidden hierarchy in the numbering of ‘Others’ as the third gender! Once we understand the hierarchy in the nomenclature, we will able to understand the underlying power-relations in how Gender identities are created and for what purpose.

Transgender, is a different Gender altogether. One is reminded of Simone de Beauvoir who once stated that- “A woman is Not born but made into one.” Similarly, it is a Society that labels a human being with a penis as a ‘Man’. And Gender is not simply a category related to ideal sexual behavior. It goes much further. Gender decides what kind of clothing will the person wear, what kind of games will the child play. But when a person’s mind & body do Not conform to the Gender identity & roles allotted by the society, that is the beginning of a person acquiring a transgender identity. Transgender is actually a creation of our society- when somebody does NOT feel comfortable with the Gender role allotted by society, that person identifies a Transgender. The problem begins with the forcible imposition of a specific Gender Identity by society on an individual.

We may talk about sex &gender occasionally, but for most of us, sexuality is a taboo topic. In India, just as certain castes, tribes & social groups face ‘Untouchability’, similarly sexuality is considered to be an ‘Untouchable topic of conversation.Unlike in other animals where the function of Sex is limited to the reproduction, the same is not the case with humans. If that was the case, the sexual activity wouldn’t have been such a pleasurable activity. The fact that pleasure can be derived from sex, it is clear that nature intends that Humans perform sex not only to reproduce but also to experience pleasure. If this is accepted, then logically we should accept that with whom one should enjoy & derive sexual pleasure is something should be determined by individuals, amongst themselves. But in India, we have attached Sexuality with various notions such as sexual purity-impurity, societal barriers of intercourse and have labeled transgression of these norms even as a sin, to be punished by God. Therefore, those who follow the society’s norms of heterosexuality (Sex only between Male & Female) have termed the different Sexuality of others as ‘Criminal’. This is a kind of sexual majoritarianism.

Now we come to who all come under the category of ‘OTHERS’-

L- LESBIAN.  Sexual intimacy between 2 Females

G-GAY. Sexual Intimacy between 2 Males

B- BI-SEXUAL. Any Male or Female who is sexually interested in both, the opposite sex & also those who belong to the same sex as you.

T-TRANSGENDER. There are 3 types- 1) Male to Female Trans. 2) Female to Male Trans 3) Inter-Sex to Male/Female Trans

A-ASEXUAL. A person who is not sexually interested in sexual activity with anyone.

Q- QUEER. Those who do not have a fixed or determined Sexual identity.

H- HIJRA. Along with being a Gender identity, it is a Cultural identity that is limited to the South Asian region. Mainly Intersex persons, cross-dressers & also Transgenders to some extent, come under Hijra Culture.

Even if most of the above expressions of Sexuality are Not socially-accepted or in some cases even declared to be illegal, THEY ALL EXIST. Scientific research has proven the sexual behavior of ‘Others’ to be as ‘natural’ as that of Heterosexuals.

Therefore, we should respect everyone’s sexual expression, even if it is different from ours and guarantee their fundamental Human rights.

Accepting SEXUAL EQUALITY & SEXUAL FREEDOM will be a step in the direction of institutionalizing Human Rights of All.

Translated by – Anish Tore

By | 2018-04-14T07:44:10+00:00 April 13th, 2018|Gender|0 Comments