Introducing Sophie Moet

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Documentary, Portraiture | No Comments

What is natural? What is unnatural? How can we tell? Biological sex has been assumed to be a basic category that influences perceptions people have of others gender. It also influences one’s own self-identification and membership to one side or the other side of the gender binary and how we present ourselves to the world. We learn from a young age that there are two sexes: male and female. We categorize others and ourselves into these two categories as soon as the question, “Is it a boy or a girl?” is answered which is based on physical genitalia and chromosomes. This categorization generates a framework for individuals’ gender to operate in thereafter, which is often perceived as ‘natural’, the result of our biology.

For example, a biological male shall grow to be a man, be masculine, have heterosexual desire, become a father and pursue masculine pursuits such as sport or engineering. This is a gender ‘norm’, which is represented and perceived as ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ within culture and society. But what if a person’s gender conflicts with their biological sex? What if an individual’s sex is ‘constructed’ or ‘unnatural’? What if a biological male appears feminine? How are these ‘ambiguous’, ‘abnormal’, ‘unnatural’ individuals represented and perceived? Can gender only be the outcome of nature? Or rather nurture, conditioning, culture and society? How would these different opinions affect the way we perceive these people?

Gender non-conforming bodies: transgendered, intersex and drag queens often express more overtly the visual aesthetics and gestures that define ‘normal’ gender identities, more so than those individuals considered ‘normal’ and ‘natural’. Some bodies represent the conflict between sex and gender such as female body builders. However, as these bodies are ‘unnatural’ and ‘constructed’, they are represented and perceived differently, but why? If they follow the gender ‘norms’ sufficiently why should their biology make a difference? How can we even know what is natural and unnatural upon first glance? I will be investigating how gender is represented and perceived relating them to nature v nurture debates and how these different views impact individuals’ gender. Is everything due to culture and nurture or is everything biological?

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