She has taught at Brown since earning her Ph. She has written two books intended for the general audience. The second edition of the first of those books, Myths of Gender, was published in This thought experiment was interpreted by some as a serious proposal or even a theory; advocates for intersex people stated that this theory was wrong, confusing and unhelpful to the interests of intersex people. In a later paper "The Five Sexes, Revisited" [5] , she has acknowledged these objections. Fausto-Sterling serves on the editorial board of the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine and on the advisory board of the feminist academic journal Signs.

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Science tells us by recognizing the X or Y chromosomes. The media shows us through the physically ideal celebrities that grace the covers of magazines and flaunt their bodies in commercials. Stop Using Plagiarized Content. Get Essay Sports, wrestling, cars, and blue for the boys. Dresses, make-up, painted nails, and pink for the girls.

All of these sources, as well as others, have evolved into an expectation that has become institutionalized within society. This expectation, is placement and belonging into the binary system of person: the man or the woman. The author explores the harsh physical and psychological costs that come with the conforming to social standards.

Fausto-Sterling explains the ideal make-up of a man and a woman. They also have well-known secondary sexual characteristics, including a muscular build and facial hair. Science takes into account the biological DNA sequence of chromosomes to determine male or female. But what about people who fall in between? Besides the genders male and female, there is also intersexed. Within that group of intersexed, there are subgroups. This often leaves scars, and the psychological and emotional confusion along with it.

Medical ethicist Laurence B. The consequences of that gamble can cost the patient a lifetime of psychological trauma. To argue in favor of it, one must remember how it was growing up. Children, more-so than adults, want to fit it. There really is, however, a yearning to fit in as a child growing up. The media constantly reinforces what a man should look like and what a woman should look like, and these, sometimes unrealistic, notions of ideal bodies, distorts people.

It reflects how society forces people into a box, and judges anyone who do not fit into that box. These dilemmas stem from a society flawed sense of standard genders, and why a five sex system is a refreshing suggestion. There is a cultural idea that mandates that there are only two standards, man and woman, and everything in between is a deviation that needs to be fixed. This standard has been institutionalized within modern culture, and begins immediately at birth, and continues throughout life.

Newborns are given a blue blanket if a boy, and a pink one if a girl. Bathrooms are either for men, or for women, with a cartoon figure to represent each. Passports, birth certificates, driver licenses, and other official documents, all require a declaration of male or female. There are no in-betweens. While the introduction of five sexes is certainly a noble idea, its practicality is limited.

That being said, introducing five sexes would call for a revamping of the infrastructures and institutions that were built on the binary system of sex and gender. The process would be costly and timely. Introducing the five sexes institutionally may seem out of reach, at least within the foreseeable future, however, its recognition certainly is not.

Accepting the five sexes is progress. It can be comparable to the institutionalization of segregation in the United States. Segregation, the separation of black and white, was so embedded into the culture and laws of the United States that nobody ever imagined it would be done with.

But through the determination of civil rights movements, segregation became illegal.


Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “The Five Sexes”



Anne Fausto-Sterling




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