The Biggest Act Essay

1723 words - 7 pages

Who we are and what we have become seem to be synonymous; who I am as a female and a woman tend to be one in the same. But what if one were to be female but a man? That doesn't seem to make any sense at all; for how could a female be in any way related to that of a man? These two words: female (or male) vs. woman (or man), are not realistically identical. The terms (female or male) indicates sex; whereas, the other terms signify the gender. The problem is that we have become so involved daily within this terminology that we forgot how distinct they really are. These terms bring about a lot of identity issues. The fact of the matter is not that the person would have this problem in a "natural" sense; but instead within a cultural context. The cultural construct of what the person is supposed to be, presupposes a perimeter of what that person is accepted to be, and anything outside of that is seen as not "normal". Therefore, this causes a great conflict within the person who is trying to fit in with the norm, while fighting the behavior in which they have found to be unacceptable. The question then becomes, is the ideal behind gender distinction really necessary in order for there to be some kind of legitimization of power in society? If that is not the case, then why must one be constituted to the gender that has been predetermined to their sex?
Simone de Beauvoir states, "one is not born, but rather becomes, woman" (283). But what does becoming a woman even mean? Is being an anatomical female enough to be a woman? In order to answer this question, one would have to dissect the definition of female and woman. As previously stated, female (or male) indicates the sex of a person; whereas, woman (or man) defines the persons gender role. Many times the gender role is determined by the biological nature or the person. For example, a person whose sex is female would be accepted to play the gender role of a woman. The distinction of sex and gender that was defined is not easily made in reality. A more realistic view of gender an sex is the example given. It makes it seem as though sex and gender are the same thing instead of separate entities.
What Beauvoir is trying to make clear in her statement, is the fact that gender is something that has been constructed by culture. It is a false truth; it is not a part of the natural body of a person. Therefore, meaning a person has the ability to employ a gender role outside of the one that has been assigned to their sex. This would seem to imply a sense of freedom in which one may be able to decide their gender. Rather, it is alluding to the idea that a person can be a gender outside of the norms we have prescribed to that person's biological sex. In her saying that one becomes a woman she is implying that the woman does so because she learns through cultural norms what she is supposed to be, and thus has a yearning to do so. This brings about the understanding that this yearning the woman has is not...

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