Still with me?
We’re examining patriarchal myths re sex and sexuality. There are many, but I’m focusing on some which I think will surprise you.
Why? Because how we think about sex and sexuality conditions us to behave a certain way. I want to crack that open.
Plus, when you know more than your kids, and more than your kid’s teacher, you’ve got credibility. That goes a long way towards having open conversations about sex.
We already tackled four myths:
- The egg cell passively accepts whichever sperm reaches it first.
- The hymen is broken when a girl loses her virginity.
- Men have higher sex drives than women.
- Spontaneous arousal (taking the lead) is healthier than contextual arousal (following along).
Last one! Ready?
True or false: There are two genders: male and female.
Yup. It’s a little bit arbitrary: There are as many genders as a society chooses to recognize. It’s really a continuum. That’s hard for us to believe, because like fish in water, we can’t sense a different reality than the one we’ve always experienced.
Looking at other societies, however, demonstrates just how fluid gender is. It’s a continuum. There’s no right number of genders.
According to Janice Zarro Brodman’s Sex Rules, a book on the diversity of sexual rules and practices around the world, there are many examples of cultures which think of gender quite differently.
- The Yoruba of Nigeria don’t recognize any gender at all. They don’t separate people into male or female. Imagine that!
- The Incas, Hawaiians, and many more recognize 3 genders: male, female, and one more. Those in the last category combine traits and behaviors of male and female.
- The Maori of New Zealand recognize 4 genders: male, female, those with male genitals who behave like females, and those with female genitals who behave like males.
- The Navajo of North America recognize 5 genders: all of the above plus intersex. Those with intersex genitals are not easily categorized as male or female, and it is a natural human variation. The intersex trait is about as common as red hair.
Why would patriarchy promote the 2 gender paradigm? Because of the desire to lock down paternity.
Our society categorizes people into sperm producers and egg producers. Sperm and egg produce a baby. Any deviation from sperm-making male and egg-producing female is “unnatural” – no matter how many species of animals defy the heteronormative paradigm in nature.
It’s too confusing to have a sperm-producer acting like a woman, or an egg-producer behaving like a man, or to not know whether someone is a sperm-producer (who should be treated in these ways) or an egg producer (who should be treated in other ways). So, as a society, we’ve historically refused to acknowledge them and shamed them for not fitting easily into our 2 gender system.
Unfortunately, “unnatural” quickly became “immoral,” and it’s the civil rights movement of our generation to grant rights to those outside the heteronormative paradigm, from gay marriage to gender neutral bathrooms.
What happens when you try to wrap your brain around this? Please comment below!
In support of you,
P.S. Happy fall! School has started for many, and parent groups everywhere are planning their events for the year. I’ve got a bunch of presentations lined up already, and if you’d like me to present for your community, I’d be delighted! Click here.