Category Archives: Appetizers

What is Sexuality?

I’m going to just come out and say this, sexuality is complicated.  Sexuality does not have a concise definition like gender and because it is a part of a person’s identity, people will always have their own definition of what sexuality is.  For the purpose of contextualizing my blog, the following is how I’m going to try and explain sexuality.

The first thing to say about sexuality is that whenever discussing it, sexuality is associated with sexual orientation (which is defined as, who a person is physically and/or emotionally attracted to) (Sexual orientation and homosexuality).  The reason why these two are heavily associated with each other is because they are all part of a person’s sexual identity.  By knowing and understanding sexual orientation, people can then have a full understanding of their sexuality and how to express it (Self-Help: Sexual Identity and Orientation).

For example:  A boy (let’s call him Tom), at the age of 11, starts to understand that he isn’t attracted to girls like the other boys.  All Tom knows is that he is different from the rest of the crowd and is confused on what to call himself, how to identify, or how to express his “abnormal” desires.  Tom eventually enters high school and finds out that men who are attracted to other men are called gay.  Although Tom now knows that he is gay, he still does not fully comprehend what it means to be gay because he’s never had the chance to express it in any manner.  It wasn’t until college, where he could fully express himself as exactly who he was, that Tom really understood his sexuality.

Through this story, we can examine Tom’s development of himself from pre-high school to college.  By being able to understand his sexual orientation, Tom was able to understand sexual identity but through expressing this he was able to fully understand his sexuality.

In regards to sexuality, it is also very important to note that when people think of sexuality, many tend to think of heteronormative sexuality (meaning sexuality is in reference to straight sexual identities only, not like the gay sexual identity example I gave you) (Self-Help: Sexual Identity and Orientation).  This is important to take into consideration because this is also what our society thinks and is run.



“Self-Help: Sexual Identity and Orientation.” Student Counseling Center Office of Student Affairs. University of Texas Dallas, 19 Jan 2011. Web. 20 Apr 2012. <;.

“Sexual orientation and homosexuality.” American Psychological Association . American Psychological Association, 2008. Web. 20 Apr 2012. <;.

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What is Gender?

As I stated in “Preparing for the meal”, I have to make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what gender and sexuality is before we really delve into the content of my blog.   Although this section may seem a little more technical and academic, there’s just no other way of getting around what these words mean and they are crucial to understanding the entire blog.

The first thing to know about an individual’s gender is that it is different from that person’s biological sex.  The sex of a person can be determined by chromosomes and hormone levels.  However, a person’s sex is usually determined by genitalia, meaning a baby having a penis would be labeled as male.  While on the other hand, a baby having a vagina is labeled as female.  This is what sex is.

By knowing the sex of a baby, gender is and can then be assumed.  For instance, a baby is born and is determined to be female because it has a vagina (which is the sex).  When that baby recognized as female, it is then called and presented to the parents as a girl, which is an example of gender.  Gender is the social construction of a person’s self by others which is based off of their assigned sex (Eldis).  In a much simpler explanation, sex=male and female while gender= boy and girl (which are heavily associated with masculine/feminine).   By knowing a person’s gender, that person is then socialized into society’s perceptions of what gender is.

Ex: A girl is born and her parent’s buy her a pink dress.

These parents are socializing their daughter into the gender of being a girl by buying her a dress (which is something girls wear) that is pink (a feminine trait that girls are supposed to like and wear).  As children grow up, they will be heavily socialized and expected to fit into their gender roles (FAO).  But is this to say that there is nobody who breaks their gender roles or don’t fit to their roles?  Of course not. (Ex: tomboys)

Also, it is very important to note that because gender is a social construct based off of that society, other societies have different ideas as to what their gender is and how it should look.  (Ex. In the U.S., it is acceptable and normal for women to wear short skirts, pants, and dresses.  While on the other hand, in many places within the Middle East, it is unacceptable and unheard of for a woman to wear short skirts.) (FAO)


“What is gender?.” Eldis. Institute of Development Studies, 2012. Web. 9 Apr 2012. <;.

“What Is Gender?.” FAO Corporate Document Repository. Economic and Social Development Department, 2004. Web. 9 Apr 2012. <

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