Gender Artifactualism

Updated: MARCH 23, 2020

Gender artifactualism is the concept that gender is primarily or entirely constructed by society and culture, rather than biology. Transgender activist and academic Julia Serrano coined the term in her book “Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive.” The concept is dominant in a variety of different arenas including feminism, queer activism, sociology, women and gender studies, and queer theory.

Gender artifactualism can be used interchangeably with the more established term, social constructivism.

More About Gender Artifactualism

Gender artifactualism rejects the idea that biology impacts the creation and development of gender in any meaningful way. Instead, this concept focuses on the impact that socialization, gender norms, and other cultural influences play in creating and developing gender.

People who believe in gender artifactualism argue that the stance is more progressive and less sexist than believing biology chiefly influences gender and gender expression. Unlike gender determinism, for example, people who believe in gender artifactualism do not believe people want to be breadwinners simply because they were born male, for example. They add that if sexism exists in society, it can be remedied through social change.

While gender artifactualism is a pervasive concept in certain social circles, it has strong critics who believe the influence of biological factors on gender cannot and should not be ignored. They say many gender traits and differences between genders are the result of biological factors.

They also question the idea that we are not driven by intrinsic, biological desires, noting that if this were true it would be easier for people to conform to gender norms and avoid rejection and persecution. They also argue gender artifactualism can be used as easily to promote sexism as gender determinism can. For example, gender artifactualism suggests intersex people can always align to accept the gender they were raised as, which is not always the case.

Some critics of gender artifactualism reject the concept entirely and state biology is the single greatest factor influencing gender while others take a more moderate view, believing biology, society, and other influences all play a part.


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