Sexual Identity And Gender Expression

1399 WordsMay 17, 20176 Pages
To conceptualise sexual identity and gender expression, Judith Butler (1990) proposes a poststructuralist perspective; that gendered behaviour (masculinity and femininity) is learned, a performative act, and that gender is constructed through a ‘heterosexual matrix’. She describes this as [A] hegemonic/epistemic model of gender intelligibility that assumes that for bodies to cohere and make sense there must be a stable sex expressed through a stable gender (masculine expresses discursive male, feminine expresses female) that is oppositionally and hierarchically defined through the compulsory practice of heterosexuality (Butler, 1990; 151). She proposes that one is born a particular sex, which in turn dictates one’s gender, which in turn…show more content…
Reality, from the realist perspective, is seen to have a stratification of existence, which Bhaskar (date) outlines as the ‘empirical’, the ‘actual’ and the ‘real’. The empirical is the experienced, a sub-set of the actual; the things and events in their concrete historicity, and these are both a sub-set of the real; the structures, the internal relations of the actual parts. Socially, realists distinguish the ‘empirical’ reality of social life from the ‘real’ objects whose causal powers effect social change through ‘actual’ mechanisms. This ontological depth has bearing when exploring the sex-gender relationship, where there are real anatomical sex differences, and empirically real gender differences. Rather than “deterministic”, sex categories are “causal” to result in a particular gender. One born to a particular anatomical sex tends to be a particular gender; the outcome is probable. That is because of the actual mechanisms, the cultural, religious, historical truths, that create a tendency between the ‘real’ and the ‘empirical’. This is what Butler somewhat fails to portray: the influences of race, class, and time. “Heteronormativity” is the term coined to define the systemic and pervasive belief, structurally, socially and somewhat unconsciously, that heterosexuality is the normal and inevitable sexuality, it ‘makes sense’. It is grounded in determinism; that one’s anatomical sex must compliment their partner’s ‘opposite’
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