• Jack Cummins
    4.4k
    I raise this question because thinking back and looking at the thread which I created on gender and sexuality this may have been the question which I was raising. I was not intending to create a thread on gender dysphoria itself and it may be one of the phenomenon which arises in the area of gender. The experience of gender dysphoria itself may be related to deeper understanding of gender itself, sexuality and ideas of masculinity and femininity.

    As regards gender, it is about social roles and may go back to biological imperatives, especially reproduction. The complex interplay between biology and the social aspects of gender were explored in sociology, including the understanding of Ann Oakley, which looks at the way in which gender is based on social meanings about gender based on biological differences between the genders. The sociology of gender and sexuality was developed in postmodernism, especially in the idea of the social construction of gender and sexuality. Judith Butler speaks of gender as being based on 'performance'.

    The issues of gender differences are still strong in philosophy debates; the idea of cultural construction is still an issue in thinking about how gender is constructed individually and socially. It involves aspects of psychology and politics.The categories of male and female are the essential basics of this biologically, with the psychological and social aspects too. What are your thoughts on this, especially in relation to what it means to be a man or a woman? Is biology destiny and to what extent do individuals have the ability to think about authentic meaning beyond the constraints of cultural stereotypes.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k
    If the meaning of my thread question is unclear, I would add that I am trying to explore the ideas around essentialism, relating to gender and sexuality. I am also interested in social constructions and values and how these come into play in human interaction and relationships. How does masculinity and femininity come into this, especially in relation to personal identity?

    To what extent are men and women different, or what it means to be a man or woman and how this question is explored introspectively? On the other hand, some may see men and women as being so different, so I am raising this as an area of debate, especially in relation to the role and understanding of biology in this. I am asking about the biological aspects of difference but also about the subjective meaning of this in personal and social life. What are the dynamics?
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    Is biology destiny and to what extent do individuals have the ability to think about authentic meaning beyond the constraints of cultural stereotypes.Jack Cummins

    So you accept it is nature and nurture – biology and sociology? Well then it comes down to the degree these do or should go hand in hand as two levels of the one story. That would define "authenticity" in some pragmatic sense.

    If you believe that biology and sociology have no necessary connection, then you will start claiming one or other has to be the basic ground of authentic identity. And if there is a necessary connection – say because a social organism must also be adapted to its world in the evolutionary sense – then that is a different definition of authenticity.

    That is the way to approach your riddle. Look to the scientific evidence. Why did biology produce the sexual dimorphism - with its usual genetic degree of variance – that it did? And does sociology continue to reinforce or even amplify that for good adaptive reason? Or has sociology instead radically changed that game so it doesn't really apply anymore. Biology needs to be suppressed as humans are now doing something else with its own evolutionary logic.

    The answers will be very complex of course. If our ideas about gender are evolving in some authentic direction, it is still very much a work in progress. Likewise if they are instead just diverging from the biological "true path" for a time, then at what point can this be judged to be the case?

    I'm not saying that either story needs to be the right one. Whatever works is what works. But it will sharpen the discussion to at least be clear about how much we must remain biologically constrained, and how much actual logic there is to the idea of being sociologically unconstrained.

    And that is why I put the term "authentic" in nose-holding quotes. It already presumes there is some right answer at the end of the road that will make its "other" wrong.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I would argue that it is a complex interplay of biology and meaning. Authenticity of identity is about social meanings and interpretations. How one perceives biology and its significance may be important, as well as pragmatic concerns, as human beings exist in social structures and groups. However, the tension between biology and sociological aspects may exist, especially in relation to the understanding of biology in regard to sexuality, gender and social roles.

    There is biology as a starting point and the societal factors come into play in the dynamics of social life. Ideas about gender and sexuality come into this. There may be contradictions and, also, values, which may even have a part to play in developing goals, and expectations. Also, the ideas of the differences between men and women may play a significant part, in goals and choices in personal life.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    According to the research done by Frans de Waal, the differences are not exclusive to humans.

    The Gendered Ape, Essay 3: Do Only Humans Have Genders?

    https://3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2022/09/the-gendered-ape-essay-3-do-only-humans-have-genders.html
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    It might be worth looking into (super)models (men & women). Going by how the perfect male and perfect female are portrayed in magazines and movies, very few straight men are actually men and very few straight women are actually women. The bar is just too high for the majority and this might lead to an inferiority complex that then triggers a gender identity crisis.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I find it interesting that other species, other than humans, have gender as a form of performance. It does give rise to the essentialism of gender, as a biological imperative in nature.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Rather than "essentialism", I attribute to gender in nature a kind of functionalism. Gender is what it's easier to do reliably with respect to reproduction and offspring-care rather than "what one is".
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Ideas of the 'perfect' male and female may leave many feeling lacking. I am not sure about your claim about whether 'very few straight men are actually men and very few straight women are actually women'. It is probably connected to transgender, although I am not convinced that the majority of people in magazines and movies are trans.

    However, it may be that those who have found masculinity and femininity through conscious choice may have looked at its presentation and performance with greater precision. However, rather than simply being an area for trans people and gender deviant, it can be asked, more universally, what does it mean to be a man or woman?
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    What's depicted as male & female on the Golden Record stored in Voyager II Pioneer Plaque that's, as of now, hurtling through the vacuum of space?

    Let's start there ...
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Gender definitely begins with reproduction. There is the question as to where, or how far this goes, in relation to 'what one is'. The search for identity may be far wider, but, nevertheless, most people have a basic gender identity independently. Some of the cultural aspects may be exaggerated.
    .
    For example, sometimes when I am just looking to buy a birthday card there seem to be divisions. When I was a child I can remember going to a birthday party of a girl who I knew and, buying a birthday card and present for her. Her mother complained that I had given a boy's card. I had simply chosen the card which I thought was the nicest one. In all aspects of life, gender is a codified form of expression and communication, which seems to operate independently of the basis of human reproduction.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I am about to go to bed, because it is after 1.30 am. However, I don't know about the Golden Record of Voyager 11, so I would appreciate you elaborating, especially its significance for gender, and I will read and follow it up tomorrow.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Apologies, the nude man & woman were on the Pioneer Plaque. Visit Wikipedia for more info.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I am still logged on, so I am wondering about nudity and masculinity and femininity. There are codes of dress and performance based on attire, and some exaggeration of gender differences. I wonder how this relates to the the concept of the naked self.To what extent does gender go back to biological aspects and cultural ones, and how are they blended in cultural and personal life?
  • apokrisis
    6.3k
    Authenticity of identity is about social meanings and interpretations.Jack Cummins

    It’s certainly a social construct. :razz:
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    nudity and masculinity and femininity.Jack Cummins

    Jeanne d'Arc dressing as a man was, to French soldiers, good enough for government work if you catch my drift.

    Why do men have nipples? Just in case, eh? :snicker:
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    According to the research done by Frans de Waal, the differences are not exclusive to humans.

    The Gendered Ape, Essay 3: Do Only Humans Have Genders?
    Fooloso4

    Thanks for sharing this link. Interesting, indeed.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    Physically and at the extremes, they are very different.

    Psychologically and on average, they are not that different.

    In terms of personality people have always exhibited traits from both ends. 'Masculine' women and 'feminine' men are nothing new. One might even say that developing certain traits from the opposite sex, or at least a strong understanding of them, is an important step into becoming a psychologically adult human.

    It is only in recent times, quite possibly as a result the extreme comfort we live in, that societies started developing an infatuation with hyper-sexualization.

    That isn't a surprise. It's supposedly well-documented that as barriers are removed, differences between the sexes tend to become more pronounced.

    My personal theory about this is that it is a result of the lack of meaning a lot of people experience in modern society. They turn to the most basic source of self-esteem, which is sexuality and sex appeal - a product of the strong(est?) instinct to reproduce.

    So we enter the era of hyper-sexualized men and women, who pride themselves in being "hyper-masculine" or "hyper-feminine", and of people whom by their personal physical and psychological makeup cannot attain these ideals, yet still are drawn to the same source of self-esteem. Because for many, there's nothing else. And it's something that western society (perhaps subconsciously) attempts to drill into people's minds from an early age.

    The transgender movement is the counterculture reaction to this, and as with anything our decadent society comes up with, it's equally extreme and problematic, and devoid of all nuance.


    The individual is wise to avoid all of these movements. Mankind has a long tradition of wisdom literature that pertains to the development of the self, the incorporation of the male and female, etc. For important things, turn to the wise, not to the masses.


    Is biology destiny[...]?Jack Cummins

    Biology is destiny for those who do not develop the capacity to understand and control their biological makeup and instinctual and subconscoius drives. As Plato argues, the reasoning faculty of man should be in firm control over the temperamental and desiring parts of the mind.

    What are your thoughts [...] in relation to what it means to be a man or a woman?Jack Cummins

    Apart from biological realities, it means nothing. It's up to the individual to discover and develop their own unique makeup, instead of trying to jam the square peg of the self into the round hole of society's defunct stereotypes.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Your query about why do men have nipples is that all people have rudimentary aspects of the opposite sex. Not only do men have nipples but some have noticeable breast development, just as some women have facial hair. Many spend money on cosmetic procedures to reduce aspects of physical attributes of the opposite gender. Every foetus starts off as the same, before sexual differentiation takes place. In childhood, apart from primary sex characteristics, boys and girls look fairly similar until puberty.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    It does seem to me that hypersexualisation is an aspect of Western culture. The context of this may be important in understanding why people develop transgender identities. This may be a useful area for thinking about, rather than simply viewing gender dysphoria as in terms of individual psychology.

    I am inclined to think that a lot of the psychological differences between men and women are culturally significant more than anything else. Simone De Beauvoir argued that women are not made but become women. The sociologist, Ann Oakley, developed this in her analysis of the nurture aspect of gender development. Of course, there is still the critical role, which hormones have on the brain, and possibly some biological significance of the chromosomes too.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    It does seem to me that hypersexualisation is an aspect of Western culture. The context of this may be important in understanding why people develop transgender identities. This may be a useful area for thinking about, rather than simply viewing gender dysphoria as in terms of individual psychology.Jack Cummins

    It's interesting that hyper-sexualization in men and women, and gender dysphoria, all seem body dysmorphic in nature.

    Simone De Beauvoir argued that women are not made but become women. The sociologist, Ann Oakley, developed this in her analysis of the nurture aspect of gender development. Of course, there is still the critical role, which hormones have on the brain, and possibly some biological significance of the chromosomes too.Jack Cummins

    I suppose there must be some biological "wiring" - after all, when we look at human societies throughout time and space we see by and large the same types of roles attributed to men and women. Though, not exclusively, so societal factors definitely play a role.

    But the real question is, why should the individual be content to let society or their supposed "biological wiring" define them?

    The answer lies in the following; if the reasoning faculty of the mind isn't firmly in control, one essentially lacks the psychological tools for self-definition, and one will simply be a ball tossed between nature and nurture, forever blind to what was already there from the beginning - the self.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    :up:

    So what you're sayin' is what I'm sayin'. There's a phase in our development when males & females are more similar than they're different. It's true that at puberty there's a clear divergence of the sexes that make each identifiable at a glance. Many a times, I've asked "how old is she?" to parents of boy infants and vice versa.

    The difference between men and women is by and large based on physical characteristics, but there are grey areas that sometimes perplex the naïve. The mind though is rather ambiguous wouldn't you say, Jack?
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    Biology is destiny for those who do not develop the capacity to understand and control their biological makeup and instinctual and subconscoius drives. As Plato argues, the reasoning faculty of man should be in firm control over the temperamental and desiring parts of the mind.Tzeentch

    What you've written makes a lot of sense to me, although I think the position taken in the above quoted text is greatly overstated. If we control our biological makeup, it is the way a surfer controls a wave, not the way a rider controls a horse.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    It is questionable which people are in control, as having the 'tools for self-definition'? Is it the ones who conform happily to stereotypes or those who are gender dysphoric? It is a difficult area to think about, involving nature, nurture and free choice. There may also be dangers in overgeneralisations because each person's life experiences is unique.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    The gender of the 'mind' is an interesting area. It partly goes back to the debate about physicalism and the question of the wiring of the brain and whether there is any difference in brains. Also, how much is nurture and the nature of identity. My own thinking is that the nature of identity is influenced by many variables. This also includes embodiment and the experience of living in a specific body, and to what extent one feels content with the self which one projects in life.

    The phrase sometimes used by gender dysphoric people, 'trapped in the wrong body' is an existential experience and seems to signify a form of dualism. It is like to be like a ghost in a machine, or a soul. At school, I can remember one history teacher saying that at one point in Christianity, there was a belief that women didn't have souls. Nowadays, the idea of a soul is not that prominent at all, and is replaced with the self, which is even open to dispute if it is taken to mean an actual entity.

    One area of thought, however, is how the mind is seen if one believes in reincarnation. That is because even if conscious identity is not remembered clearly the previous life experiences may leave some traces of memory. I have come across a number of people, who don't identify as transgender but believe that they had lives in the opposite gender to the one in this life and feel affected by that belief. If there is any truth in the idea of reincarnation, it is likely that various lives would be in each gender, with an underlying development towards spiritual androgyny.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    Since you gave the metaphor of the wave and the horse, I could not help but remember Plato's allegory from Phaedrus of the charioteer and their chariot drawn by two steeds:

    Of the nature of the soul, though her true form be ever a theme of large and more than mortal discourse, let me speak briefly, and in a figure. And let the figure be composite - a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent, but those of other [beings] are mixed; the human charioteer drives his in a pair; and one of them is noble and of noble breed, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble breed; and the driving of them of necessity gives a great deal of trouble to him. I will endeavour to explain to you in what way the mortal differs from the immortal creature. The soul in her totality has the care of inanimate being everywhere, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing - when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and orders the whole world; whereas the imperfect soul, losing her wings and drooping in her flight at last settles on the solid ground - there, finding a home, she receives an earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really moved by her power; and this composition of soul and body is called a living and mortal creature. For immortal no such union can be reasonably believed to be; although fancy, not having seen nor surely known the nature of God, may imagine an immortal creature having both a body and also a soul which are united throughout all time. Let that, however, be as God wills, and be spoken of acceptably to him. And now let us ask the reason why the soul loses her wings!

    I don't know if you'll agree on its relevance, but it's certainly a beautiful quote.

    And that last line captures my feelings about this topic; when the individual simply accepts biological drives as facts of life, or accepts being put into a box by societal pressures, it's like the soul loses its wings - it loses a part of its essence, that part which in Plato's terms could be called divine and immortal.


    It is questionable which people are in control, as having the 'tools for self-definition'? Is it the ones who conform happily to stereotypes or those who are gender dysphoric?Jack Cummins

    Defining the self through stereotypes seems contradictory whether they're traditional boxes or new boxes. We weren't happy with others trying to jam our square peg into their round hole - why would we want to take over the jamming?
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    And that last line captures my feelings about this topic; when the individual simply accepts biological drives as facts of life, or accepts being put into a box by societal pressures, it's like the soul loses its wings - it loses a part of its essence, that part which in Plato's terms could be called divine and immortal.Tzeentch

    We've laid out three metaphors here, all of which are a bit off. I don't think the horse controlled by his rider works. I don't see my body's physical aspect as something that has to be wrestled into compliance. Then there's Plato's winged horse of the soul losing it's wings and falling to the ground to be shackled to the limitations of it's body. Putting the soul as our "true" self and our body as a fallen remnant doesn't make sense to me. Even though I like it, my metaphor of the wave isn't quite right either. It could only work if I am the wave.
  • Hanover
    8.8k
    The transgender movement is the counterculture reaction to this, and as with anything our decadent society comes up with, it's equally extreme and problematic, and devoid of all nuance.Tzeentch

    Biology is destiny for those who do not develop the capacity to understand and control their biological makeup and instinctual and subconscoius drives. As Plato argues, the reasoning faculty of man should be in firm control over the temperamental and desiring parts of the mind.Tzeentch

    These quotes strike me as a radical free choice position, suggesting we choose our gender, as opposed to our being born with a gender opposite our biology.

    Your position doesn't remind me as much of Plato as it does Sarte. https://www.litcharts.com/lit/existentialism-is-a-humanism/themes/radical-freedom-choice-and-responsibility#:~:text=Based%20on%20Sartre's%20argument%20that,their%20lives%20as%20a%20whole.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Oh! Well souls having experienced a different sex in a previous life and that carrying over into this life, manifesting as gender dysphoria is an explanation for the LGBTIQ phenomenon, but is it the right best one? If it were up to me, I'd look for less fancy reasons e.g. a hormonal one.

    As for reincarnation ...

    Mohini (Sanskrit: मोहिनी, Mohinī) is the Hindu goddess of enchantment. She is the only female avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu (male). — Wikipedia

    More at Wikipedia.
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    These quotes strike me as a radical free choice position, suggesting we choose our gender, as opposed to our being born with a gender opposite our biology.

    Your position doesn't remind me as much of Plato as it does Sarte.
    Hanover

    I suppose you could view it as a radical free choice position.

    However, that freedom of choice can only come about in a well-organized mind, in which the reasoning faculty is firmly in control (for which I like to use Plato's three-part soul).

    When it comes to gender debates, the question often seems to be whether it is nature (biological / instinctive drives) or nurture (societal pressures) that defines us.

    I view both as obstacles.

    Mine perhaps isn't so much a free choice position, but a 'free to explore' position, for which the same prerequisite applies.

    I believe one can only explore that which is truly authentic to the self when one is free of external pressures on the mind. That includes both nature and nurture, and thus societally-constructed gender identities, whether they're traditional or trans.

    In terms of identity men and women or trans do not exist. Those terms are societal shorthand - useful tools to make communicating a bit easier. But all that exists are unique individuals. The second the individual starts to accept these generalizations as actually defining them, the soul loses its wings.

    We are conditioned to regard the self as something that is constructed by taking a shopping cart and putting in it those of society's boxes that we like. In so doing, we don't discover the self but we assume a fake, external identity or persona. To a degree that's necessary to function in society, but the problem is we end up unable to see the difference - unable to see that what we're doing is putting up a display for others.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    You need to read 'Soul on Ice' by Eldridge Cleaver, because there is an intersection between gender and race. The image of a man is not the image of a black man; the image of a woman is not the image of a black woman.

    If one were to measure height, weight, speed, intelligence, more or less anything non-reproductive, one would find a large overlap between the sexes, that is completely ignored in favour of the competitive extremes. Culture exaggerates sexual differences where they statistically occur, and invents them everywhere else. One has to learn to conform, and one spends one's life attempting with diets, makeup, surgery, workouts, and therapy, trying to conform to other people's fantasy of otherness. It is worse in the US than most places, where women have to speak like chipmunks and look like barbie, and men have to buy one.
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