Sex and Gender


I just had a very interesting conversation with a friend in which he posited that sex can’t be defined therefore sex and gender are the same thing. Lets pretend for a second that biologists haven’t already defined sex (males=small gametes, females=large gametes), even if there were no definition for sex, it still makes sense to divide the two. This is because sex is merely a description of biology. One is born male, female, or intersex. I think it’s a largely useless category, but many people care about it. Gender is how we feel and how we express our selves. If my sex is the same as my gender, then people can and will say “you were born a girl so you must act like one.” I know this because people who feel that sex and gender are the same do say this. But if sex and gender are different, then people are more accepting of those of us who have a gender that doesn’t match our sex. This is why sex and gender must be seen as separate.

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5 responses to “Sex and Gender

  • Dena

    What is expected of me as a female is different here in the US than it is in say, Saudi Arabia. It is also different than it was for my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I don’t understand his argument that sex and gender are the same.

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  • samcroarkin

    I disagree that it is sex identification is “useless” as reproduction demands identification of some sort. However, I think your friend is right in saying that sex cannot be narrowed down to two specific categories (or even three, or four, since there is more to sex than just genitalia and legacy providence). But I think you are right in that it is necessary to make the distinction between physical and social/psychological differences of sex and gender. I think the key is recognizing that they play into each other, but have different origins and functions.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Sex doesn’t necessarily define reproductive ability. Biologically, it generally just refers to gametes. With human babies, though, we simply look at whats between their legs. Most people who are given the sex of female can get pregnant and most labelled as men can produce sperm capable of fertilizing an egg. But not all can. However, we tend to label those who are infertile as male or female. Most people who are intersex are infertile, but not all of them are. For all three, gametes seem to be the best way to determine if one is male, female, or intersex, but not always. This is why I say it’s largely useless. We do have definitions, but they have very little impact on our lives. They are important for doctors and scientists, but I don’t think they’re very necessary for things like birth certificates.

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  • Gender connections | From guestwriters

    […] If my sex is the same as my gender, then people can and will say “you were born a girl so you must act like one.” I know this because people who feel that sex and gender are the same do say this. But if sex and gender are different, then people are more accepting of those of us who have a gender that doesn’t match our sex. This is why sex and gender must be seen as separate. {Sex and Gender} […]

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