Laura Cripps to Present Free Lecture: “Inter(esting) Sex: Beyond the Binary”
Think gender is simply a matter of male and female? Think again, says Dr. Laura Cripps, anthropology professor at Howard Community College. Dr. Cripps will present a free community lecture, “Inter(esting) Sex: Beyond the Binary,” on Tuesday, February 23 at 6 p.m. to demystify our popular misunderstanding of sex as binary and explore current and sometimes controversial perceptions of gender identity.
“We are a culture that is obsessed with maintaining certain binaries. We create laws around the idea that sex is binary and that one’s gender must conform to their genitalia,” says Dr. Cripps. “The problem is sex isn’t binary – sex exists on a spectrum.”
According to Dr. Cripps, our cultural construction of gender in America often relies on an unfounded notion that particular characteristics are inherently male or female. And although we are seeing a reawakening in gender fluid identities in popular media (Caitlyn Jenner and Sam Smith are two examples), Dr. Cripps stresses that non-binary identities continue to be met with resistance.
“There is an explicit suggestion in mainstream thought that certain traits are somehow male or female based on biology. And yet, there is research to show that those gender-associated traits are not accurate,” says Dr. Cripps. “Gender is a cultural construct. Cultures define what gender male is and what gender female is, and what norms and values are associated with those genders.”
Dr. Laura Cripps is professor of anthropology and associate vice president of academic affairs at Howard Community College. Born and raised in Oxford, UK, her graduate research focused on archaeological methodologies and the construction of cultural identity in relation to social memories attached to the landscape.
Dr. Cripps is the second in the five-part Social Sciences Lecture Series that will take place on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. during February and March.
The series continues with Dr. Michael Heffren’s “What’s Going On? American Politics 1970-2020” on March 9, Evelyn Del Rosario’s “The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: Know Its Meaning and How It Protects Your Rights” on March 16, and Dr. Eric Clark’s “De-escalation Techniques from Behind the Wall” on March 23.
Each lecture will be held virtually and is free and open to the public. For more information and to register for the lecture series, visit howardcc.edu/lectureseries.