Feminism And Sexuality


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feminism and sexuality Hermaphrodite

Intro to Women's Studies
Wsp 101
What is a hermaphrodite? The definition that Suzanne Kessler, The writer of Lessons from the Intersexed, gives us is that a true hermaphrodite is where a baby has either testes or ovaries, but the genitals are indistinct. This birth defect has been happening to a small percentage of babies throughout history ( ). A lot of Kessler's essay deals with the interviewing of six medical experts in the field of pediatric intersexuality. They supply the reader with plenty of information on the topic of intersexuality and babies born with ambiguous genitals. Kessler also supplies us with a great deal of information on the process parents have to go through with the diagnosis and the waiting period between knowing whether or not the baby is going to be a boy or girl. In Judith Lorber's essay, Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender, she talks about gender and what a man or a women have to do to that is required in their specific gender. Both these essays deal with the idea of choosing what sex a child is going to be based on their ambiguous genitals and how their gender will affect them in the society.
There are three factors that in this present time that deal with the intersex condition. Two specialists, John Money and Anke A. Ehrhardt, constructed a theory saying that gender identity can be manipulated up to eighteen months of age ( ). People who have been born into the intersex condition, nowadays, have many options to choose from on how to fix the so called problem ( ). Since technology advances everyday, there have been newly discovered ways to perform the surgery to repair the genitals ( ). Feminism also plays a part in the intersex condition. Now, feminists say that if a person has the presence or absence of gonads, it is no longer the only decisive factor for that gender he or she is in ( ). To continue, if a baby is born with ambiguous genitals, then it needs to be assigned a gender as quickly as possible ( ). I agree with that statement because I have a family friend that had to go through the same ordeal and she had to hide the fact that her newborn wasn't assigned a gender yet. That is sometimes hard for people to deal with because they want to know whether their baby is a boy or girl.
The doctors play a huge role in the choosing of the baby's gender. The parents depend on the doctor for insight on everything because the doctor is the expert. If the doctor doesn't have a quick and comforting answer to the parents question, Is it a boy or a girl? then the parents may feel uncertain and very upset. Therefore the doctor needs to be decisive and unambiguous, so that the parents are settled, their credibility is not questioned and they help keep Money and Ehrhardt's theory valid ( ). I also think that this is a necessity, because its hard enough hearing that your child is neither fully male nor fully female, but if the doctor doesn't know how to deal with it, then who do the parents turn to. If I were in that position, I too would be going crazy, trying to figure out what to do about my child. Its like thinking, Do I want a male or a female child? I would need some assistance in that choice. Keller discusses some things doctors should have not said in post delivery. For example, You have a little boy, but he'll never function as a little boy, so you better raise him as a little girl, ( ). What do the parents say to the family and friends during the time the infant is getting surgery? One of the doctor's told one of the stories she heard, saying that the parents lied and told everyone they had twins, then when they found out the baby's gender, they had told everyone that the other twin had dies ( ). As I was reading this, I had also thought that if I were in that position I would probably do ... more

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Pornography Debate


    Suppose one accepts MacKinnon and Dworkin's suggestedstatutory definition of pornography.  How does one who
generally accepts MacKinnon and Dworkin's views on the
pervasively harmful effect of pornography, and who accepts a need
for legal redress of the harms perpetrated by pornography, deal
with pornographic material?
    The ordinance proposed by MacKinnon and Dworkin would deal
with such material by enacting legislation which gives people
adversely affected by the works, which clearly fit their
definition of pornography, a cause of action against the
producers, vendors, exhibitors or distributors for
"trafficking", or for an assault "directly caused by the
specific work.
    I do not think liberals, or others for that matter, should
have much problem with the clause dealing with assault, since a
causal connection to specific works is demanded by it.  However,
s. 3.2(iii) which deals with trafficking would be very
problematic for liberals and legal conservatives because it
creates a cause of action for a person contrary to the
traditional conception of a rights holder's cause of action.
This subsection reads:
         Any woman has a claim hereunder as a woman acting
         against the subordination of women.  Any man, child or
         transsexual who alleges injury by pornography in the
         way women are injured by it also has a claim.
         [emphasis added]

    My goal in this paper is to suggest that a slight
modification to this subsection of the ordinance would make it
very difficult for liberals and legal conservatives to object to
it.  This modification would restrict the cause of action to the
same persons as the other sections of the ordinance, namely, the
particular victim of the specified injury.  I shall argue that
such a modification would largely cohere with the conception of
harm already at work in Ontario law, would afford only a minor
reduction in the potential efficacy of such legislation in
curbing the harm of pornography, and would offer to empower the
feminist camp which is behind such an ordinance with a mechanism
for social and political change if a sufficiently organized
feminist "vanguard" took hold of the opportunity to empower
women.
    Adrian Howe argues that the concept of social injury which
may be suggested by the ordinance recognizes the differential
harm felt by women from pornography.  Howe suggests this social
notion of harm may be a necessary feature of any successful law
reform which is to address the huge social problem of male
domination and female oppression.  The liberal notion of an
individuated human right fails to capture, for MacKinnon and
Howe, "the specificity of the harm to women."  Thus, an
ordinance which did not create a cause of action "for women as
women" would fail to address the root of the social problem of
which pornography is a manifestation.  
    This conception of social harm, and thus subsection
3.2(iii), may offend liberals or legal conservatives in two ways.
First, the notion of non-individuated harm is antithetical to the
liberal conception of a rights holder claiming a cause of action.
Fundamental to a liberal conception of harm is the notion of the
individual who is autonomous, separate and fundamentally worthy
of respect.  Rawls and Kant exemplify this view in their analyses
when they posit the undifferentiated self, free of any particular
qualities save that of being an agent worthy of a fundamental,
inviolable respect.  This notion of the individual worthy of
equal concern and respect in the eyes of the state permeates
liberal conceptions of rights.  It is also a fundamental, if not
exclusive, tenet of the common law of torts:  
         In tort litigation, the courts must decide whether to
         shift the loss suffered by one person, the plaintiff,
         to the shoulders of another person [emphasis added].

    Clearly, on its face this conception of harm precludes the
notion of a harm suffered collectively which cannot be delineated
individually.  While class actions are possible, and claims may
be made on behalf of groups such as company shareholders, this is
only by virtue of the fact that a legally recognized individual
has suffered an identifiable particular harm.
    Thus, the conventional liberal notion of harm is radically
distinct from that outlined by Howe and MacKinnon.  Since on the
liberal conception rights holders are autonomous, individual
selves who are essentially distinct, harm to one is distinct from
harm to another.  It may be that a liberal conception of a rights
holder simply renders the concept of a social harm, and thus a
cause of action "for women as women" incoherent.  I do not wish
to discuss whether it is possible to develop a complete liberal
notion of social harm.  It is sufficient to ... more

feminism and sexuality

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