Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History

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Overview

Most modern discussions of the relationship of biological sex to gender presuppose that there are two genders male and female, founded on the two biological sexes. But not all cultures share this essentialist assumption and even Western societies have not always embraced it. Bringing together historical and anthropological studies, Third Sex, Third Gender challenges the usual emphasis on sexual dimorphism and reproduction, providing a unique perspective on the various forms of socialization of people who are neither "male" nor "female." The existence of a third sex or gender enables us to understand how Byzantine palace eunuchs and Indian hijras met the criteria of special social roles that necessitated practices such as self-castration and how intimate and forbidden desires were expressed among the Dutch Sodomites in the early modern period, the Sapphists of eighteenth-century England or the so-called hermaphrodite-homosexuals of nineteenth-century Europe and America. By contextualizing these practices and by allowing these bodies, meanings and desires to emerge, Third Sex, Third Gender provides a new way to think about sex and gender systems that is crucial to contemporary debates within the social sciences.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780942299816
  • Publisher: Zone Books
  • Publication date: 4/7/1994
  • Pages: 614
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 11
Introduction: Third Sexes and Third Genders 21
I Living in the Shadows: Eunuchs and Gender in Byzantium 85
II London's Sapphists: From Three Sexes to Four Genders in the Making of Modern Culture 111
III Sodomy and the Pursuit of a Third Sex in the Early Modern Period 137
IV "A Female Soul in a Male Body": Sexual Inversion as Gender Inversion in Nineteenth-Century Sexology 213
V Woman Becomes Man in the Balkans 241
VI Polynesian Gender Liminality Through Time and Space 285
VII How to Become a Berdache: Toward a Unified Analysis of Gender Diversity 329
VIII Hijras: An Alternative Sex and Gender Role in India 373
IX Mistaken Sex: Culture, Biology and the Third Sex in New Guinea 419
X Transcending and Transgendering: Male-to-Female Transsexuals, Dichotomy and Diversity 447
Notes 487
Contributors 597
Index 599
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