Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Cultural Constructions of Gender

  • Edwin S. Segal
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29907-6_1


Throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century a considerable amount of ethnographic data regarding cultural variations in concepts of sex and gender were collected. The data included a variety of casual mentions, some detailed case-oriented studies, and compilations of data. However, most of these were cast within an ethnocentric paradigm focused on psychosocial anomalies or presumed pathologies. The major exception was the collection by Ford and Beach (1951) dealing with variations in human sexual behavior, looking to develop a sense of patterning. A little more than 20 years later, Martin and Voorhies (1975) coined the term “supernumerary sexes” in an effort to make sense out of the data that then existed. They meant this term to refer to cultural categories that did not fit the Western European and North American bipolar paradigms.

Although a great deal of ethnographic data regarding cultural variations in conceptualizing sex and gender had been...


Cultural Construction Society Island Gender Dimorphism Intersexed Individual Gender Pole 
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© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2003

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  • Edwin S. Segal

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