Learning Objectives: To be able to differentiate sex from gender To be able to define and discuss different aspects of gender To be able to give examples of the social construction of gender To be able to identify public health aspects of gender, particularly around family planning
Sex From Latin secare, to divide. Used to refer to: Sexual intercourse Male/female
What is a biological male? What is a biological female?
Is biological sex just male & female?
Variations in sex chromosome combinations XX XY XO - Turners syndrome XXY - Klinefelters syndrome Society labels many of these other chromosomal combinations as intersex categories.
Case 1: David Reimer Sources: John Colapinto. 2000. As Nature Made Him. New York: HarperCollins. Jesse Walker. The death of David Reimer: A tale of sex, science and abuse. Reason. (www.reason.com/news/show/33586.html) Intersex Society of North America (www.isna.org)
Case 2: Loren Cameron Source: Loren Cameron. 1996. Body Alchemy. San Francisco: Cleis Books.
Gender: origins of the word Gender originally used to refer to linguistic rules (eg “el” and “la” in Spanish). Redefined in the 1970s to refer to socially-constructed and socially-defined categories, roles, statuses.
Gender Socially defined categories, roles and statuses for, as well as relations between and among people.
Tagalog gender categories Lalake (male) Babae (female) Bakla, syoki (an effeminate male) Gay (homosexual) Tibo (a masculine female) Silahis (a bisexual) Bisexual, macho gay (a gay man who is not effeminate)
Transgenders Many societies have transgender categories, e.g., kathoey (Thai, Lao), waria (Indonesia), bakla (Philippines). These categories are often erroneously translated as “gay” or “homosexual”.
Gender is NOT sexual orientation alone. Anatomy (both biological and social) Body movements Clothing Personality Occupations Lifestyle (eg metrosexual) “Sexual attraction”
Gender and society We learn about gender categories, roles, statuses through social institutions: family, community, religion, etc. These are powerful in shaping our mind-sets and how we feel about our bodies.
Gender & socialization We teach gender roles through many ways, such as admonitions to children: Act like a man. Speak softly. Be more lady-like. Why are you crying? Are you a bakla?
Gender and the State Laws, policies, all reinforce existing gender norms, e.g.: Anti-abortion provision mainly penalizes “concealing of her dishonor” A man can kill his daughter’s (“seducer”) and merely be punished with destierro A rapist can be absolved if he agrees to marry the woman he raped
Gender relations & society Gender relations interact with other social divisions, e.g., divisions by class, caste, religion, ethnicity, age. Thus, an upper-class Filipina urban woman would be more powerful than the male mayor of a small Filipino town. She would also become more powerful with age.
Gender ideology Society tells us what each gender SHOULD be and SHOULD NOT be. Gender ideology is reinforced by society and culture, eg through religion (who can become priests or monks, who cannot), and politics (Ah, enough of women presidents!), etc.
Importance of language Words are important, including medical terms: how do we call STIs in the Philippines? What are the implications of terms like “real women” (vs “false women”?). What advice is given to patients, eg “You should never say no to your husband or he might look for another woman.”
“Naturalization”, “essentialism”, “sexism” Gender ideologies often end up “naturalizing” gender (Oh, all men are unfaithful) or “essentializing” gender (Oh, that’s because she’s a woman.) Sexism presumes that one sex is, by nature, superior to the other.
Gender, society & history Gender norms change. In agricultural societies, women are mainly seen as “baby-makers”, producing sons to work in the field. In industrial societies, women are allowed to become more independent and assertive. Men begin to become “househusbands” as well.
Gender is embodied We “carry” gender in our bodies through a variety of learned behaviors, from the colors of clothes we choose, to the way we move, to the positions we take in sex (to penetrate or be penetrated).
Catholicism and the body In recent years some Catholics have focused on gender roles and the body, emphasizing women’s role in procreation.
Theologyofthebody.net There is no shame in being a woman. Only women can receive new life into the empty space within. Only women can make a gift of self so that others can receive the gift of their very lives. A woman's body "speaks" the language of receptivity and relationship.
Differentiating sex and gender allows us to reflect on: Nature (biology) and nurture (society) Are there attributes that are essentially male/female? Or are these socially constructed?
Gender trouble (Judith Butler) Gender “floats” – we are constantly redefining gender, in ourselves and in others. We “perform” gender, constantly changing it depending on the setting and who we are with.
Gender and public health How does all this translate into vulnerabilities, morbidities, mortalities. . .and empowerment?
Some public health problems affected by gender roles & statuses Maternal morbidity & mortality Gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence (incl. same-sex relationships) Child abuse (combination of age & gender)
Public policy & gender In Brazil, a 9-year old girl raped by her stepfather, who is also suspected of raping the girl’s 14-year old disabled sister. The mother of the raped girl authorized an abortion for her daughter.
Archbishop Jose Cardoso excommunicated the mother and the doctors. He did not excommunicate the stepfather because abortion was “more heinous” than the stepfather’s raping. Reflect on the priorities here: gendered “duty” of the young girl to bear the child.
Some gender differences in mortality rates Accidents, violence, suicides occur more frequently among males Some cancers are sex-specific (eg cervical, endometrial, prostate cancer) but others may also have a gender component (eg lung cancer increasing in women as more women take up smoking)
Sexually transmitted infections as a case in gender relations Women more vulnerable because of anatomy (receiving end, higher possibility of undetected “silent” infections), as well as gender relations (forced sex, difficulties getting information, treatment), yet these infections are called “sakit ng babae” and blamed on women.
Gender and HIV/AIDS prevalence in Philippines HIV/AIDS in the Philippines: highest incidence among females is in the younger age groups, 15-24. Among males, it is highest among those in their 30s, suggesting an interaction between gender and economic status (women sex workers and male clients).
Family planning and gender Differences in desired family size: husband and wife Decision-making