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Concept of Gender Intersectionality in Society Essay

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Updated: Aug 12th, 2019


Gender inter-sectionality refers to the inter-play within social categories and power. It mainly focuses on differences such as class, sexuality, race and age. Inter-sectionality has brought out factors such as in-equality, racism, sexism and many others. These include categories such as gender, race, class and ability (Nestle, Riki and Howell 89).

Gender diversity refers to the various sociological concepts of structure, culture and self-identity of people in the society. It entails understanding gender and sexuality and how they are dealt with in life (Jackson s). Some of the issues and concepts of the aspect of gender diversity include social change, social identities, modern trends social divisions and social conflicts that have resulted from the differences.

Gender inter-sectionality in sexuality

In April 2005, there was a demonstration in support of the passage of the gay rights bill through state legislature of Maine, USA. In the balcony present were approximately 50 gay rights activists. In comparison to these gay supporters who gathered for the meeting, there were four of five times more people who demonstrated them and rejected their proposed bill.

Those who were opposed to this bill were mainly the religious and Christian gay groups. This greatly showed the conflict in the society. What the bill was concerned about was not the same sex marriage rights but equal treatment for lesbians and gays. The main debate was on legislation to recognize same sex civil unions. There have also been movements for women’s rights and sexual minorities such as gays and lesbians which has portrayed social change since the mid twentieth century.

Women were mainly concerned with issues relating to the access to educational and financial resources, changes in cultural values, religious beliefs and decline in traditions. Since these female movements challenged traditions, it resulted in social conflict. (Nestle, Riki and Howell 76).

Social change has progressed too quickly. In the case of marriages, there has been high decline in marriage and stability it brought. Traditionalists have denied extension of the right to marry to a minority population. This has resulted in lack of social cohesion and social order.

This can only be explained by understanding the social significance of the minority groups and what significance they have to the majority, and in this case it deals with the issue of same sex marriage. Traditionally women have always been seen as naturally suited to child rearing and domesticity, which historically justifies their limited access to education and employment.

This trend resulted into women increasing their movements to demand equal rights as their male counterparts which clearly demonstrated gender changes and the changes in the diversification in gender roles where there was a hierarchy of genders. Men were regarded as naturally superior to women. However, this trend has changed with time (Nestle, Riki and Howell 99).

The further illustrated that these changes had influenced all aspects of social life, i.e. politics and power, cultural beliefs and values, social actions, and identity and social structures. For instance, the right of the sexual minority to marry is seen not as a personal issue or one of individual political rights, but rather as one for the scrutiny of the state. In the 1988 Olympics, Mario Patino, a female athlete was denied an opportunity to participate in the Olympics since her sexuality was under question.

Lab results revealed that she had neither ovaries nor a uterus. This made them think that she was a male with female attributes. As a result, she was stripped of all her of her medals and success. In response, she filed a suit to protest her revocation from the Olympic team. She was later reinstated to the team (Nestle, Riki and Howell 89).

In the year 1968, female athletes were required to parade naked to reveal their sexuality, the requirements being breasts and a vagina. This proved the presence of intersectionality in gender. Many women felt that this was quite degrading. Later in the year 1972, sexologists argued that the term ‘sex’ refers to the physical attributes, and is anatomically and physiologically determined.

Feminists definition of sex was the organs one had. On the other hand, they felt that gender was a psychological transformation of an individual. As a result of this, they have increasingly received massive resistance from biologists and social scientists. (Nestle, Riki and Howell 78).

An anthropologist Henrietta A Moore argued that our bodies are too complex to provide answers to sexual differences. He argued that sex is not pure physical category. Muscle strength should not be used as a measure of masculinity. Strengths of men and women overlapped due to their levels of training. Mario Patina may have had Y chromosomes but this shouldn’t be used to decide her sexuality and shouldn’t be the deciding factor. (Kimmel and Messner.)

Sexual identity has been a fundamental reality. In this case homosexuality and heterosexuality. This has greatly encouraged the study of human homosexuality and sexual behavior in men and women. The studies have provided the modern scientists with a set of categories used for measuring and analyzing sexual behavior.

Here they used a rating of 0-6 being heterosexual and 6 being 100% homosexual. Kingsley, a biologist, further argued that sexuality is an individual characteristic and not merely something produced with relationship in a particular social setting. Like the Victorians, for example, described aggressiveness as a way to show masculine attributes.

In America, men and women seeking same sex interactions became more open as they were often seen sitting in bars and outdoor spots. It is believed that homosexuality was born in the 1880s. Historians have continuously looked for answers on whether human sexuality is inborn or socially constructed.

The same question was pursued by anthropologists while they were studying sexual behavior , roles and expressions found in different cultures in the world. With the studies carried out, scientists have discovered that and agreed that the chemical structure of the sex hormones –testosterone have shown different roles and abilities in men and women. Different social behaviors are generally social activities which are expressed in interaction with separate objects and beings.

Gender intersectionality in race and individual collective identities.

In the past, there was an expectation to conform to white standards which were quite popular. It was nothing new in a society that privileged whiteness and over time has become magnified in black women. In the late 90s the descriptions of Venus Williams and basketball sensation Allen Iverson often included allusions to their hair styles braided and in rows respectively.

This was seen as a code language in the U.S. society, and was seen as an indication of the discomfort and fascination that white people felt for the African –Americans in general, and in particular, for black hairstyles and what they signified. It was later seen that Williams hairstyle signified femininity and beauty in the culture. In fact, it sent a bold statement that what constituted femininity must be expanded. (Kimmel and Messner 98).

This has greatly unmasked the gender politics of feminists and sexuality that are embedded in the female body from abortions to female circumcision, as well as how the Muslims cover their body locally and globally. This has greatly been contributed to the feminists. During the 70s, when afros came out, there was a movement that was in support of black women and black power.

Many people desired to have an afro especially like that of Angela Davis. You would be pulled over by the police a lot because of wearing this style. This was because black women and men wore the same style and was greatly mistaken as gender identity.(Kimmel 56).

Later in the 80s black females went to challenge a policy in court that was put by Hyatt hotels and American hotels against wearing braids. These companies claimed that they demanded appropriate grooming styles. They argued that braids were a violation of grooming practices (Wosk 87). Other hairstyles like cornrows ,dreadlocks and ponytails were allowed. In one case a woman was eliminated because the management thought her hairstyle was extreme.

It is still viewed that hair is of great importance to black women and girls. It is believed that hair is a representation of women’s culture, beauty and power that shapes their ideas about their race ,gender, class and sexuality. Men have always been regarded as naturally superior to women.However this trend has changed with time ( Stevia and Rahman 67).

Intersectionality in gender and equity.

In the year 2005 the Harvard president made remarks on whether inherent genetic and biological traits were the reason women did not perform well in mathematics and scientific careers.This was received with great criticism and made news across the world.There were even reports that there were questionable aspects on his style of management that caused unrest among his staff members.

This brought a great debate on gender issues. But with time policies have been formulated to protect individuals from discriminatory issues.The policies granted access to resources such as citizenship rights and democratic rights in everyday life. Women can now attain the same education and employment positions as men (Kimmel and Messner 156).

Democracy is quite evident in political matters, where we see a woman was nominated to run for the presidency in the democratic party of united states and for most of the primary season Hillary Clinton was the front runner.There are several women in positions of power and politics around the world. This has made impacts on the social activities in terms of politics and cultural behavior.

There have been emergence of feminists movements to demand equal rights with males. Equal rights feminists developed mostly in the 19th century mostly in relation to issues to voting. Feminists movements are mostly seen popular in parts of the world such as the USA, Britain and other parts of the world. In the western Europe it mainly targeted issues of labor union.These were all to demand equal treatment in their everyday social life.


Despite the various movements to promote same sex marriages there have been objections to this as it is considered as unnatural. With the studies carried out scientists have discovered that and agreed that the chemical structure of the sex hormones –testosterones have shown different roles and abilities in men and women. Different social behaviors are generally social activities which are expressed in interaction with separate objects and beings.

In the early years hair was mainly associated to expressing femininity but with changes and time this has changed.Hair is seen as an expression of beauty and not femininity. With time his perception has changed since it is viewed that one can still be beautiful without long hair.

Over the years there have been rising movements among feminists on issues related to gender.These have been successful since most of the equity rights have been granted to the feminists. However there is still a long way to go to achieve this since some parts of the world have not developed the mentality of gender equity such as in the Middle East and some parts of Africa.

Works Cited

Kimmel, Michael S and Michael A. Messner. Men’s Lives. New York: ALLYN & BACON, 2009. Print.

Kimmel, Michael S. Changing Men: New directions in research on men and masculinity. New Bay Park: Sage Publications, 1987. Print.

Nestle, Joan, Riki Anne Wilchins and Clare Howell. Gender Queer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary. New York: Alison Books, 2002. Print.

Stevia, Jackson and Momin Rahman. Gender and Sexuality. Cambridge: Poly Press, 2010. Print.

Wosk, Julia. Women and the Machine: Representations from the Spinning Wheel to the Electronic Age. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press, 2003. Print.

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