Throughout our time exploring gender, we have seen several feminists denounce its purpose. As Judith Lorber explains, gender can be broken down into three components: process, stratification, and structure. Each of these components highlight that the gender binary is not only endogenous within its social function (a structure assigning men and women roles) and conception (the process by which we conceive an identity) but, more importantly, its implications (an unjust, gender hierarchy). Simply put, we see that gender serves to stratify the human race into two hieratically constructed roles. When we consider these critiques, a question becomes fiercely present: what would be a just alternative?
In her piece, “Should There Be Only Two Sexes?,” Fausto-Sterling humors alternatives beyond our rigid, gender binary. She proposes a utopian alternative where the “cultural genitals counted for more than physical genitals…” Fausto-Sterling meant this when discussing legal battles where the legitimacy of a heterosexual couples was in question. The plaintiff was “surprised” to discover his transsexual partner. It becomes clear that Fausto-Sterling is for not just open-mindedness but a paradigm shift. I agree. We need to become open to the variability in people’s bodies and more importantly, respect people’s right to self-identify. This is what Fausto-Sterling meant by “cultural genitals.” Our culture needs to allow people to develop a deep understanding of their body, their sexual tendencies and then, what they would expect from others. Gender, then, can actually become the individual’s process- not society’s preconceived notions of physical genitals.