From time immemorial, there has been a belief that there only twosexes that exists, which are the male and the female. Males andfemales are distinguished from each based their external or what iscalled projected appearance. There are also other numerous internalfactors that differentiate males from females and vice versa. Forinstance, women are expected to develop breasts at a particular stagein her life. Women are also known to have a light voice and lackbeards. They are also known to have a vaginal opening. On the otherhand are men who are believed to develop beards at a point in theirlifetime. Men are also believed to have penises (Dreger, 2008).Despite this strong belief amongst the people, there has been othersexes, which have been extremely hard to categorize in terms of beingeither a male or a female.
Hermaphrodites are a group of people who exhibit both male andfemale attributes. They have been referred by the doctors asintersex. Hermaphrodites are difficult to categorize due to thepossession of a mixture of what are believed to be male and femaleattributes that are projected and those that are internal (Dreger,2008). This aspect was evident in a fictional character who we willcall Bob for the purpose of this paper. Bob depicted characteristicsthat were both female and male in nature. This mixture of male andfemale attributes led to the conclusion that Bob was neither a malenor a female, but could only be referred as a hermaphrodite orintersex.
The reason that Bob was referred to as a hermaphrodite was due tothe various external features that indicated male and femaleattributes. For instances, Bob was viewed as having extremely broadhips, which are a characteristic of females. On the contrary, Bob wasalso observed as having beards and an extremely deep voice,characteristics, which are associated with males. Surprisingly,despite the presence of the beards and the deep male voice, Bob hadbreasts that were big enough to be described as a female. His/herbreasts had developed during puberty, just as breasts for normalwomen develop. Even to make it more confusing, Bob had long hair,which was difficult differentiate as of being male or female. It wasalso found out that Bob had narrow shoulders and doctors had foundout that Bob had both genitalia. These external attributes indicatethat Bob was more of woman than a man.
This aspect of being intersex had landed Bob in a number ofproblems. For instance, Bob could not vote in the American electionsbefore the introduction of the universal suffrage. It was difficultascertaining that Bob was a man or a woman. Internally, there werevarious aspects that proved Bob as a man and other proved him/her asa woman. Bob was experiencing menstrual periods, which is keycharacteristic of women. There was also the aspect of the testis andthe ovary. Bob was diagnosed as having one testis and one ovary. Thiswas an indication of the existence of both male and femaleattributes. It is also vital to point out that the female genitalorgans in bob were working perfectly, but he/she could not conceive.Bob could produce estrogen hormones. Bob was medically proven to behaving a uterus and the development of beards, deep voices andadult-size penis was attributed to his/her lack of medical attention.Research has indicated that it is not possible biologically for ahermaphrodite to become both a father and a mother (Dreger, 2008).
The aspect of being a hermaphrodite attracts various conflicts withlaw. It is apparent that there are instances where Bob would not getmarried since some states considered him as a male and male to maleunions are restricted by law. According to Butler, gender performancedescribes the actions that depict one as either a male or female. Inthis case of Bob, who is a fictional character, the genderperformance has indicated that he/she can either be described as amale or a female. When an individual depicts the characteristics ofboth male and female, it is difficult to determine their genderthrough the aspect of gender performance (Dreger, 2008).
Whereas male and female are the main sexes that a vast majority ofpeople are aware of, it is increasingly becoming evident thathermaphrodites are also another form of sex. The existence of bothgenitalia on a person’s body indicate that they can neither be maleor female. This has placed these individuals in conflict with the lawin regard to various laws regarding to sexology (Dreger, 2008).Hermaphrodites have varying external and internal characteristic,which they depict. It is, however, imperative to note thathermaphrodites normally lean towards one gender more than the other.For instance, in the case of Bob it is evident that there were morecharacteristics attributed to the female gender, than there weretraits attributed to male gender.
Dreger, A. D. (2008). Hermaphrodites and the medical invention ofsex. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.