To defend the claim that masculinity and femininity are both biologically and culturally constructed, I often produce refutations for my opponent’s soft-headed only society answer (strict social construction). To bolster my argument that sexuality and gender are two parts of one natural process, I use the term defined by E. O. Wilson, “sociobiology.” While using this concept, I immediately find myself held hostage by the social construction border guards and am stopped momentarily by the wall of academe. I have discovered that a way past this wall (or through it) is to use an important logical method for refuting a claim – namely, by pointing out its false assumption, after which several questions must be asked that make it very clear that the wall will soon fall. Here’s an example:
- If we start by assuming, as social constructionists do, that male and female sexuality is predominantly a performance engineered by language, society, and culture, then we are inevitably left asking a series of unsettling questions that can only lead to stranger assumptions about society and nature (such as whether nature even exists or can be perceived and whether men or women created language and society).
- What comes before language, society, and culture?
- What is outside language, society, and culture?
- Who is responsible for language, society, and culture?
- Is language, society, and culture necessary?
- Who is responsible for changing language, society, and culture?
- Is language, society, and culture separate from biology/Nature?
- And if so, who is responsible for biology/Nature?
- Now, start by assuming as sociobiologists do, that nature exists and is dominant in life, and that male and female sexuality is defined predominantly as an ongoing interaction between society and biology (culture and nature). At this point, we find that there are few if any unsettling dichotomies – instead it is natural to create language and society. For although we recognize the importance of language and culture for making meaning and social connections, our impulse as social performers is rooted in biology as a way to adapt and survive. Instead of material reality separating us from social reality or psychological reality (“Unto dust shalt thou return,”quipped the Old Testament God), our material and social reality is one and the same in our myth-making and culture-making. Our language and culture not only represent us; they also color and texture us as sociobiological beings.