Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Pregnant Man

There's allegedly a pregnant man in town - and here's what we have to say about it:

Note how in the first article, there's a need to use the inverted commas around the noun man, to indicate that there's something not quite manly there. The noun should not be taken at face value, for what we know to be a man, but with some lenience.

In the second and the third article, we have an explanation forefront: a man now, but a woman first. Now our biological knowledge (men cannot get pregnant) is safe - it's politically correct to call the person in question a man, because he had a sex changing surgery, but he is understood as first and foremost a biological she.

I am not engaging with biology here (though maybe we should - male pipefishes and seahorses get pregnant, not to mention that some fish change their sex during their lifetime - but hey, we're not talking fish here!). I'm only asking about the way in which we have constructed sex/gender difference, the difference between two (and only two) sexes, male and female. Yes, we are more open to accept a variety of gender labels, but when it comes down to biology, everything that doesn't fall in the category becomes envisaged as anomaly. It makes you wonder how we look at the living world itself - do we try to fit it into our male/female understanding? Do we choose to label a behavior as being led or driven by reproduction, while the other by the need to copulate? Are we giving biology any thought in terms of the social beliefs that motivate and frame its gaze over the world? Questions with uncomfortable answers...

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