Mr. Gealy Ap Literature
Middlesex Gender is defined as the state of being male or female, typically used to determine factors of a person’s social role rather than a person’s biological makeup. Jeffrey Eugenides explains the importance of gender’s affect on how people are treated in his 2002 novel, Middlesex. The main character of the book is born intersex, and must go through many trials to discover his true identity and handle the expectations of others. “When this story goes out into the world, I may become the most famous hermaphrodite in history…I’ve got a male brain. But I was raised as a girl. If you were going to devise an experiment to measure the relative influences of nature versus nurture, you couldn’t have come up with anything better than my life.”(Page 27, Middlesex. Eugenides.) Gender is beyond the small word that contains it, as a person’s gender may be the most understated crutch in their life. In Middlesex, Eugenides uses the point of view of an intersex person to give the reader insight on gender stereotyping and the irrelevance of physical gender in the human identity, along with the unjustified prejudice against those who change their gender. The most common example of the negative affects of gender stereotyping is sexism. Sexism is defined as a form of stereotyping that creates negative connotation with how a person is seen because of their gender. Sexism is often seen as a discrimination only women deal with. Women are often discriminated against in many ways, including being seen as sex objects that can not have a mind of their own, or seen as people who must be attractive to be of any worth. Middlesex states that although some see males as the sex with a pass on discrimination, gender discrimination rules on both sides. “Society discriminated against women, no question. But what about the discrimination of being sent war? Which sex was really thought to be expendable.”(Middlesex, Page 334). This quote from Cal describing his brother’s anguish over the possibility that he may get sent to war and die, is just one eye opening example of the struggles that are built with being male. Men are thought to be weak if show any soft or delicate feature, from physical attributes to their personality. For men that do show “feminine” qualities, it likely that they have been told to “Man up,” or to “Stop being a girl,” in their lives. These derogatory terms set up the discrimination women must face as being seen as a weaker sex, to such an extent that even being called a girl is an insult. Middlesex gives the reader the rare perception of a person who has felt discrimination and insecurities that both genders must face, and has realized that gender is not something that should hold a person back in becoming who they want to be. “Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.”(Page 218, Middlesex).
By showing the insecurities of an intersex person, Eugenides points out our own insecurities that are surrounded by gender. Middlesex has a close connection with transgendered people, as transgendered people often relate to intersex people because they also become a gender that is not originally theirs. Some people find transgendered people extremely difficult to understand, thus hard to sympathize with. But many of those people would