Scholars of science in Early Modern Europe tell us that premodern Europeans viewed sex, as in the categories of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ or ‘male’ and ‘female,’ fundamentally differently than we do today. While once Europeans tended to view sexual categories as fluid, since the Enlightenment we incline more towards fixity. Furthermore, while once Europeans understood sex as conforming to what Tom Laqueur has called a “one sex model,” the notion that man and woman occupy different places on the same spectrum, since the 18th century we have gravitated towards a “two sex model,” which views man and woman as two distinct and even oppositional categories. According to Laqueur, we have always viewed sex through the two competing frameworks of fixity and fluidity, but at different times for various reasons one framework took precedence over the other.(1)
All text (including posts, pages, and comments) posted on this blog on or after August 7, 2012, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. More information here
This blog is © 2007-2014 Society for U.S. Intellectual History.