by Adunni Tiwatope | April 1st, 2022 11:50 am
When we talk about sex, what comes to our mind?
The phrase that comes to our mind at first might be sexual intercourse activities but sex does not just mean intercourse, it is definitely beyond its typical meaning, it also refers to the categories to which people are typically assigned at birth based on physical characteristics (genitalia) by a gynaecologist.
Sex and Sexuality
Sex according to the construct of the social and political category is the perceived physiological identity difference between persons who are imposed, assigned males, females, and intersex… based on genitalia.
I believe this is insignificant not just because the discussion of sex “genitalia” should end at birth, but more because it’s a yardstick to further discrimination, enabling inequality and oppression in most societies.
Rather than for sex to be enjoyed mutually as intercourse to its best, it’s further otherwise used as a tool to subjugate, define and measure the individual capacity to function outside the bedroom.
Society often sees males and females as a biological binary. However, there are issues with this distinction. The chromosomal markers are not always clear-cut, some babies assigned “males” at birth are born with two or three X chromosomes, just as some babies assigned “females” are born with a Y chromosome and the base of it, we all carry the hormonal structure of both estrogen and testosterone at a uniquely different spectrum of overtime development. Also, some babies are born with genitalia ambiguous genitalia. Being intersex can mean a person has genitals or internal sex organs that fall outside of “ typical” binary categories. Or, a person might have a different combination of chromosomes. Some people do not know that they are intersex until they reach puberty. This explains that biology is complex and bodily development could be a spectrum of growth. Sexuality is not just about sex and certain body part that is associated with sexual activities.
Sexuality includes sexual orientation, such as who a person is attracted to, sexual identity as well as sexual fantasies and attitudes and values related to sex. Sexual orientation refers to sexual and romantic feelings for people of the same gender, a different gender, or more than one gender. People who identify themselves as “straight” or “heterosexual” typically feel only attracted to people of the other heterosexual or straight orientation of a different gender than their own. People who identify as “lesbian” or “gay” typically feel attracted to people of the same gender as themselves. People who identify as “bisexual” typically feel attracted to both the opposite and
same gender as themselves. People who identify as “Pansexual” do not just feel attracted to more than one gender but they do not see the existence of gender in their romantic feelings and relationship. People who use the term “queer” may use it to mean other terms that describe their experiences beyond the societal matching binary. Sexuality is a spectrum of sexual attractions which may be subjected to evolving changes in sexual preferences.
Sexual orientation can change over time for some people. A person might be attracted only to people of the same gender as themselves, and then later be attracted to more than one gender. This means that sexual orientation is diverse for some people.
Gender and Gender relation
The World Health Organization WHO explains gender as “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time”. Based on this definition, gender is seen as a socio-cultural construct where roles and behaviour are determined and distinguished by the society based on perceived characteristics of man/woman, boy or girl.
The above definition shows the binary idea of the societal class system leaving out other persons who do not fit into the binary norms, roles, behaviours, and characteristics as insignificant.
However, the concept of gender has enjoyed frequent usage but has been subjected to diverse definitions and interpretations.
Gender is widely agreed to be a social construct that arises out of culture and cuts across all parts of society. For so long in history, gender and sex have been defined in binary between male and female, man
and woman, boy and girl eradicating the existence of others that do not fit in or outside the binary based on gender relations provided as the standard of interrelationships and dynamics of power between binary gender in the society (man and woman) —
Gender relations define how people interact with others and how others relate to them, depending on their attributed gender, and they should be analyzed within the cultural context in which they develop——The Psychology of Gender and Health, 2017.
Gender relation across all societies is not just skewed as parasitic and exploitative of women, it
also erases other forms of gender existence and denies the ability to tap into the diversity of self,
basically making persons who do not exist according to the binary system dysfunctional and a problem. Understanding that gender and gender relation are distinctive and roles are spelt out according to the structure of the society and culture, there is hardly any society where the roles to describe masculinity and femininity enable equality.
Gender relations in Nigeria only recognize Man and Woman class system and this is enabled by the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society —- a system based on distinctive sexual
physiological characteristics at binary level male and female, where persons who are assigned male at birth are societally ascribed as men and females as women. Patriarchy is the authoritative male centred system that is oppressive and discriminatory, it is enforced through an early socialization process that continues to instil discriminatory attitudes in children
that grow up to be adults. A “male” child is labelled as a “boy”, trained to grow up into a man expected to exude rigidity, authoritative in the society and not a simple form of softness and weakness as such traits are
perceived as feminine while the “female” child is labelled as a girl, socialised to be supportive to their husband and expected to be dependent, labour for free and never to show any form of bravery as such trait is commended masculine neglecting individual capacity while constructing
them into binary depleted by physiological sex organ.
However, persons who do not meet the standard of humanity as to the binary structure of society are targeted as deviant minorities, invalidated and violently eradicated. In no doubt, society has its expectations and individuals have roles to perform to meet the expectations for the functionality of the society in contexts that align with the societal values and norms.
Nigerian society does not just encourage marginalization and inequality, it also doesn’t give room for diversity of self.
Despite the gender binary documentation in the state, there is the gradual emerging “pity”
recognition of “third gender”, as persons who do not identify with the gender binary in very
fainted parts of Nigerian social institutions are represented under inclusion and diversity projects mostly incorporated by members of the sexual and gender diverse marginalised community.
However, understanding gender diversity is understanding that sex is not gender and it shouldn’t be a determinant factor for individual functionality. .“Someone who identifies with the sex that they were assigned at birth is called “cisgender.” “Someone who is not cisgender and does not identify within the gender binary of man or woman, boy or girl may identify as nonbinary, gender fluid, or genderqueer, among other identities. A person whose gender identity is not totally based on sex assigned at birth might identify as transgender which is a bigger umbrella term.
It’s clear that as much as gender is a societal construct mostly related to binary, gender is more and beyond what it may have seemed to be as explained. Gender is a spectrum of characteristics, traits, expressions, many other internal and external factors and none that holistically represents individuality, which may be related to masculinity, femininity, neither, both and none that is not exactly the socially constructed identity of the man
and woman binary. Gender is who you are and how you see yourself internally and externally as an individual. This means that there are more than two genders because a person may identify and express
their gender in the most suitable ways.
Gender expression is how a person chooses to present their gender to the outside and gender identity is how and what a person feels internal and resonates with. This means that a person may identify as a woman based on their reality and experiences but present as masculine to the outside world although what is considered masculine and feminine changes over culture and tradition. The terms sex, sexuality and gender remain concerned topic in the world of today and this is because of distinguishing human diversity agitating for equality and inclusion.
For so long, many societies have enforced the idea that a person is either a man or a woman based on their sex physiological characteristics and the idea doesn’t work for each other because sex and gender are two different things. Sex ends at birth, sex is a person’s physical bodily characteristics at birth, and gender is all and beyond a person’s identities, expressions, values and societal roles.
In conclusion, The principle of equality may be forged from the gender binary class system, we can not agitate for equality when there is no room for diversity. Humanity is diverse and there may not be an exact balance of inequality if there is no room for affirmation of self in diversity. Our
experiences are totally not based on the outside but also include the inside.
Equality might unfairly constrain us to the subject of oppression and class. Clamouring for equality may not be as strong as the liberation of human nature of diversity just as the nature of the universe there in and out.
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