Monday, June 14, 2010

The Cell Analogy: The Organ- Seeing the Whole

YES! I'm here! This is it, the final installment of my series. Here's quick recap to see how I got to where I am:
  1. "Cell- Part 1" -In my first post, I explored the Renaissance time period, particularly Queen Elizabeth, and their take/exploration on gender and ended with questioning whether or not situations create gender.
  2. "Cell- Part 2" -In my second post, I looked at the digital world, particularly social networking sites, and how gender ambiguity on those social sites reflected that of the Renaissance in terms of gender exploration.
  3. "Tissue" -This post attempted to broaden the view from just gender identity to the problem of online identity. It attempted to show that the one whole of online identity is really a composite combination of many factors, gender being one, which create the whole referred to as "Me."
Why is it important to recognize the factors which shape online identity? Well, oddly enough, those same factors which shape and influence online representation are the factors which influence our objective social interactions.

This is not supposed to be a ground breaking post in which I "Wow!" the world by revealing some little known facts about what makes people who they are. This is simply a post which reveals social factors creating social boundaries and why gender, out of those social factors, is important to explore.
  • Ethnic group
  • Social class
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sex
These are some of the top factors which socially classify someone. Out of the six, only three are "out of our control," race, sex and gender. Arguably, changing one's skin color and biological sexual orientation is possible, however let's say for the sake of this post, since it's rarely done that race and sex are pretty set factor which determine social bounds. Gender is the other set factor. But hold on. Haven't I just been writing about gender being fluid and that it's only situation and society which creates this constraint? Yes, and I do believe what I said. I believe that one sex can adopt the gender of the other, however I believe it is just that, an adoption. It is not natural and goes against the grain. Let me explain what has led me to this conclusion.

It's All Monkey Business
In an earlier post, I made reference to a study conducted by Texas A&M in which biological pre-wiring was studied in terms of gender showing forth through the toys male and female vervet monkeys chose. Monkeys were used as it is assumed they have not been preconditioned or socialized to play with masculine or feminine toys. The toys were placed out, the monkeys released and results showed,
Though the monkeys had no concept of a "boy" toy and a "girl" toy, they still showed the same gender preferences in playing with the toys. That is, compared to female monkeys, male monkeys spent more time with "boy" toys, and the female monkeys, compared to their male counterparts, spent more time with "girl" toys.

"Masculine toys and feminine toys," Alexander (the leader of the study) says, "are clearly categories constructed by people. However our finding that male and female vervet monkeys show similar preferences for these toys as boys and girls do, suggests that what makes a 'boy toy' and a 'girl toy' is more than just what society dictates - it suggests that there may be perceptual cues that attract males or females to particular objects such as toys."
So how is this pertinent to my discussion regarding gender identity? The article ends with this assertion,
The implication is that what makes a "girl toy" and what makes a "boy toy" isn't just human society or stereotypes but rather something innate that draws boys and girls to different types of toys.
I would like to put this study's conclusion in light of a statement made by my church regarding the role of men and women here in life.
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
I believe the study's "something innate" to be a person's eternal identity. I am what I was and what I will be after I die. Yes, I believe in life after death and I believe that afterlife I will be the same person, both in terms of gender and sex, as I am now. Though some may think it unwise of me to bring in religion, how can I not? If I believe my religion teaches me truth and it is what shapes my thoughts and opinions of the world around then of course it will be a determining factor which shapes my opinion of gender exploration.

I believe people are capable of adopting gender characteristics of the opposite sex. I believe they can act in such a way that ascribes a different gender than their sex dictates and I hope my research on such claims has been sufficient to support that theory. However, I also believe that when such situations occur it is just that, an adoption, an act, not who that person truly is. Is gender fluid? Yes, and that's a good thing. It allows people to understand the Other side and broaden their world view. But acting or adopting doesn't remove that "something innate" within each person which defines who they are, even if that definition is by what they're not. Through my studying, musings, theses, opinions and ideas, I have come to believe that what you see, really is what you get.


  1. yeah, im convinced you will conquer the world one day. i love you becca hay!!!

  2. I like the comfort behind the statement made by the church. Thanks for reminding me!