More Critique of Katha Pollitt From the WMST-list
If biological sexual dimorphism
was just a social construction, we wouldn't be here. Reproduction
counts for something. If some tiny percent of people are born
biologically sexually anomalous, like the intersexed , why does that
call biological sexual dimorphism into question? There are many
genetic anomalies, like extra fingers and conjoined twins. But
basically, people are born with ten fingers, and live in individual
bodies. We don't go around saying, well, actually it's just the
hegemonic discourse of digits that makes us think of people as having
ten fingers. In fact, some have nine, some have eleven, some are born
with no hands at all! Nor do we say, actually, physical individuality
is another social construct-- look at siamese twins!
What one does about genetic anomalies like intersex is a social
decision, of course. But it's a different question than that of
whether sexual dimorphism is a social construct in the first place.
Yes, sperm+egg=baby, at least for the moment, though things just keep getting better. However, the fact that we are SO DEFINED by whether or not we most resemble those who carry eggs or those who carry sperm means that, socially, sex differences are constructed. What if we defined people into two groups based on another functional difference, say, ability to haul 150 lbs for a city block? We'd think that was bizarre. Well, why do we define people based on their assumed ability to play one particular procreative role? I mean, we carry groceries more often in our lives than we conceive children. [Well, there are probably some extremely rich ladies who lay around getting fertility treatments while their personal chefs buy groceries (or send their own assistants to buy groceries).]
Also, those in disability studies might say that, in fact, the discourse about bodies is that everyone has ten fingers and toes and walks upright and has an individual, autonomous body. And that this is hegemonic.