Introduction

Throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century a considerable amount of ethnographic data regarding cultural variations in concepts of sex and gender were collected. The data included a variety of casual mentions, some detailed case-oriented studies, and compilations of data. However, most of these were cast within an ethnocentric paradigm focused on psychosocial anomalies or presumed pathologies. The major exception was the collection by Ford and Beach (1951) dealing with variations in human sexual behavior, looking to develop a sense of patterning. A little more than 20 years later, Martin and Voorhies (1975) coined the term "supernumerary sexes" in an effort to make sense out of the data that then existed. They meant this term to refer to cultural categories that did not fit the Western European and North American bipolar paradigms.

Although a great deal of ethnographic data regarding cultural variations in conceptualizing sex and gender had been collected throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, it was not until the mid-1970s that the degree of patterning and variability was recognized as an ordinary part of the range of human behavior. It is not as easy to pinpoint the earliest use of "gender" as a part of the social science vocabulary regarding human sexuality.

At this point in time, three terms have come into common use: sex, gender, and sexuality. There are a variety of definitions of each, so, in order to provide a common ground for readers, this article uses the following conceptualizations. "Sex" is taken to refer primarily to biological characteristics. In that sense human beings everywhere have only two sexes, except for a few rarely occurring genetic or hormonal anomalies, a few of which are clearly understood, a few of whom are not. However, every culture also contains a set of norms describing the "proper" use of sexual physiology. For example, who constitute appropriate sexual partners, when sexual activity should take place, or what sorts of clothing are sexually provocative and which are not. From this point of view we can talk of both biological sex and cultural, or culturally mediated, sex. "Gender" is taken to refer to a culturally based complex of norms, values, and behaviors that a particular culture assigns to one biological sex or another. Where sex and gender are lodged largely in the matrix of a culture's norms, values, and beliefs, "sexuality" is taken here as referring to a more individualized concept. Sexuality is used here to refer to the ways in which individuals structure their sexual and gender performances, and the partners toward whom they direct their behavior and emotional attachments. As Lorber (1994) notes, these are not really completely separate and we are better off thinking in terms of a sex-gender-sexuality system.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?

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