Writing the Body: Language

This is my response to Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “Sexing the body.”

Language writes our bodies and shapes what and how we see the world in several different ways. The medical field plays a role in how this is done. “From the viewpoint of medical practitioners, progress in the handling of intersexuality involves maintaining the normal.” (Page 8, Sexing the Body) By defining what is so called normal, there is a strain placed on the intersexed community to fit into one of the two accepted categories of sex: male and female. When the lines of sex become blurred some intersexed people resort to have surgery to become normal; an intersexed individual with a working uterus and pseudo testes might have the testes surgically removed to look more like a woman.

Politics have also played a role in the way language writes our bodies. Similarly to the medical field, politics more than ever necessitates male and female as the only true genders and perpetuates what is normal. “Such social struggles had profound implications for the scientific categorization of intersexuality. The issue had gone beyond particular legal rights such as the write to vote.” (Page 40, Sexing the Body) In the nineteenth century, during the time in which women in the United States and England began to advocate the write to vote, what would happen to an intersexed individual that was medically defined as a woman, but who appeared like a man? Would this person be able to vote because he appeared to be a man or denied because the person is medically a woman?

Language also functions as a bridge between our individual bodies and our social bodies—between our individual and social bodies and the environment. Anne Fausto-Sterling address this in chapter one when she is talking about the Kinsey scale. “Sexuality remained an individual characteristic, not something produced within relationships in particular social settings.” (Page 10, Sexing the Body) Alfred C. Kinsey’s scale, a 0 to 6 rating with heterosexuality at one end and homosexuality at the other, reigns over scholarly work even though many social scientists have talked about its inadequacy. During the time, many homosexuals would define themselves using the scale—one way that they wrote their bodies with language.


About evinhughes

I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University. I have a bachelors degree in Information Technology and a bachelors in Writing and Linguistics.
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One Response to Writing the Body: Language

  1. emmabolden says:

    I have got to read this — thanks, Evin!


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