I was reading an article where constructivist feminist views on gender were being discussed, and an example was given on how gender was constructed, how being a boy or a girl had nothing to do with physical bodies, and how physical bodies themselves are constructed by society. The text is from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"Instead, our sexed bodies are themselves discursively constructed: they are the way they are, at least to a substantial extent, because of what is attributed to sexed bodies and how they are classified. Sex assignment (calling someone female or male) is normative. When the doctor calls a newly born infant a girl or a boy, s/he is not making a descriptive claim, but a normative one. In fact, the doctor is performing an illocutionary speech act. In effect, the doctor's utterance makes infants into girls or boys."
Isn't this kind of thinking somehow flawed? Surely, if the child was born with male genitals and the doctor said "It's a girl!", the parents would be briefly confused, perhaps ask the doctor what he means, and then go on happily considering the child a boy. Even if not, there have been many cases of parents trying to raise a child as a member of the opposite sex, and these efforts, correct me if I'm wrong, have never really led to a child being totally and completely a "typical" member of the intended sex; rather, there always seems to have been conflict, resistance.
What's more, if the doctor is the originator of the child's boyhood, how does the doctor decide to pronounce the child into boyhood in the first place? How can the physical body, or even understanding of it, be totally constructed if the doctor is able to see the male genitals without knowing whether the child is a boy or a girl? More broadly, how can the physical world be constructed by society's and individuals' perception? Unless, that is, the physical world is all the dream of a single person - but surely most social constructivists don't take metaphysical solipsism as their base assumption.
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