The Emancipated Gender
“My readings themselves [body art projects] are offered as ‘performances,’ as suggestive, open-ended engagements rather than definitive answers to the question of what and how body art means in contemporary culture”.
Amelia Jones, Body Art/ Performing the Subject, 10.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled No.224, 1990
What do we mean when we use the word “sex” as a noun? What is its history? The term “sex” has often been associated, if not mistaken with, the term “gender.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary(1), “sex” is first used in the late 14th century to describe “males or females collectively.” The word is drawn from the Latin word sexus: “‘a sex, state of being either male or female, gender,’ of uncertain origin.” One can see why people confuse “sex” with “gender” because at one point they meant the same thing. However, the critical necessity to separate gender from sex suggests that while sex is biological and material qualities, gender is socially-constructed. The body that bears socio-cultural meanings has been re-considered independently from the property of the material or natural dimensions of the body: gender is a historical situation rather than a natural fact.
JaeWook Lee (MFA AP14) wrote the following post for Jovana Stokic’s online course, 13/FA Art History II. The topic was “Leaving the Mark: Painting Body/Gestural Body - Feminist Subjectivities.” In his post, Jae explores the rigidity of notions of gender and sex in Western culture, using Amelia Jones's Body Art/ Performing The Subject to explore the more fluid, open, even indefinable direction in contemporary art of subjectivity and the gendered/sex’d body.