Re: Sex Change

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 11:17:07 -0700 (PDT)

"Kathryn Aegis" writes:
>>It seemed to me that, according to you, she is
>>saying that all social institutions conspire to hide the construction
>>of gender.
>To the extent that gender as a social instition underlies all
>other social institutions, each of which has developed control and
>management mechanisms, yes. Or, in her words: 'Social statuses are
>carefully constructed through prescribed processes of teaching,
>learning, emulation, and enforcement. Whatever genes, hormones, and
>biological evolution contribute to human social institutions is
>materially as well as qualitatively transformed by social practices.
>...the building blocks of gender are socially constructed statuses."
>That's from _Paradoxes of Gender_, 1994.

This quote says only that gender *is* constructed, which I have not
disputed. It does not address my question, which is why social
institutions would want to hide the fact of that construction. If you
recall, our conversation started this way:

>"Kathryn Aegis" writes:
>>Because gender-bending of any sort reveals the artificial
>>constructions and learned behaviors that constitute the institution
>>of gender, (however constructed in whatever society) it would
>>therefore be in the best interest of all other societal institutions
>>to constrain that behavior, to control who has access to it, to
>>determine how much to marginalize or integrate it.
>This sounds a bit conspiracy-theorist to me. How exactly would all
>social institutions be hurt by behavior that helps people understand
>how gender is constructed?

Robin D. Hanson