The Emancipated Gender


My readings themselves [body art projects] are offered as 'performances,' as suggestive, open-ended engagements rather than definitive answers to the question of what and how body art means in contemporary culture.[1]

- Amelia Jones

 

  

What do we mean when we use the word “sex” as a noun? What is its history? The term “sex” has often been associated, if not mistaken with, the term “gender.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary,[2] “sex” is first used in the late 14th century to describe “males or females collectively.” The word is drawn from the Latin word sexus: “‘a sex, state of being either male or female, gender,’ of uncertain origin.” One can see why people confuse “sex” with “gender.” At one point they meant the same thing. However, the recent critical awareness to separate gender from sex suggests that while sex is biological and material, gender is socially constructed. The body that bears socio-cultural meanings has been re-considered independently from the property of the material or biological dimensions of the body: gender is a historical situation rather than those of the flesh.

 

[1] Amelia Jones, Body Art/ Performing the Subject, University of Minnesota Press, p10. 

[2] sex. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sex (accessed: November 05, 2013).

 

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