biological categories based on reproductive differences with sperm producers being ‘male’ and egg producers being ‘female’.

It is also possible for a person to be born with a combination of reproductive traits of both male and female, see intersex. (Stryker, 8)


gender role

social expectations associated with gender.

A typical heteronormative gender role is the idea that men should have a job outside of the home and a women should stay at home with their children. This gender role is slightly outdated but still affects ideas about gender today in the United States. “Gender roles tell us that if we don’t perform the prescribed expectations, we are failing to be proper women or men,”  (Stryker, 12).



a socially constructed definition of men and women.

Gender is considered cultural, where sex is biological. The words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are used to describe gender.  “The social organization of different kinds of bodies into different categories of people,” (Stryker, 11).

compulsory heterosexuality

The assumption (and, therefore, imposition) that heterosexuality is a default; specific to Adrienne Rich’s Compulsory Heterosexuality text, she criticizes the assumption that men have one innate drive (sexual, towards women) and women have two (sexual, towards men, and “reproductive, towards their young”), reinforcing the divide between heterosexual and homosexual, as opposed to the concept of a sort of “lesbian continuum”. (Rich)

ties in directly with gender determinism (Serrano, 139)


The idea that certain aspects in life are set as they are, particularly when seen through a biological context (ie there is a biological predisposition in differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals).

  • essentialism is especially important to take into account, all considering the infinitesimal amount of trust and validity is put into the hands of scientific fact, nowadays
    • consider, that phrenology was once a completely accepted field