chapter  3
49 Pages

Sex and gender: beyond the sex/gender dichotomy to corporeal subjectivity

This book is concerned with the two major dualisms contained in the term ‘rational woman’. We come now to consider the nature of and relationship between the terms sex and gender, which is fundamental to the second implied contrast, between woman and man. Haraway notes that, ‘“[g]ender” was developed as a category to explore what counts as a “woman”, to problematize the previously taken-forgranted’ (Haraway 1991). However one of the major effects of the sex/gender distinction was to reinforce the dichotomization of sexual difference. The argument of this chapter builds on the work of influential writers such as Grosz, Gatens, and Butler, who challenged two linked dichotomies generated by the dichotomization of sexual difference. These are the bipolar male/female dichotomy (based on anatomy), and the bipolar heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy (based on sexual orientation). This chapter significantly develops the argument to show that, as a result of the dichotomization of sexual difference, which underpins the specific dichotomies of man/woman and heterosexual/homosexual, the sex/gender distinction also operates dichotomously.