Sociology and Anthropology
primates; gender; anthropology; primatology; sex
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As activism for trans rights and gender equality becomes ever more prevalent in the current American political discourse, so too has there been a rise in questions about gender. Are sexuality and gender linked? Aren’t there only two genders? What is the difference between gender and sex? Is there a difference? How does one DO gender? Isn’t gender just something you are born with? Helping the public understand these questions is important to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in a time when more people are “coming out of the closet” and identifying as genders other than cisgender. As an anthropologist, and furthermore a primatologist, I thought, “How could I help answer these questions by looking at our primate cousins?”
By looking at the behaviors of nonhuman primates I sought to help understand gender production in humans and possible origins of gender. In this project I scanned the academic literature concerning sex differential behavior in nonhuman primates to examine the question, “Do nonhuman primates have gender?” through this intensive literature study of sex differences in primate mating, foraging, aggression, and parenting behavior, I sought to understand what sex differences in nonhuman primates would constitute gender production. As such, this project not only sought to answer the question, “Do nonhuman primates have gender?” but if they do, “What does nonhuman primate gender say about human gender production?”