• Roke
    118
    I've always understood gender to be mostly synonymous with sex: male/female, with maybe an extra category of 'ambiguous'. More specifically, gender was the social aspect of sex. Stereotypical behaviors and societal roles that correlated strongly with sex. It was a pretty innocuous and widely agreed upon concept for most of my life. The bolded part is basically what I consider a decently functioning word to be.

    These days, most seem pretty confused about it. I'm confused about it. There seems to be some demand to change how it works, but I honestly don't understand what's being demanded.

    I sense a contradiction. An insistence that gender is important, but that it needs to be much more flexible. That it needs to be disassociated from sex. But it's a stereotype about sex to begin with. So, how does that work?
  • bloodninja
    268
    More specifically, gender was the social aspect of sex. Stereotypical behaviors and societal roles that correlated strongly with sexRoke

    So you don't think sex and gender are synonymous? Is gender is a social construct?
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.3k
    These days, most seem pretty confused about it. I'm confused about it. There seems to be some demand to change how it works, but I honestly don't understand what's being demanded.Roke

    Yes, I think there is some degree of confusion, left and right. Left because people who are socially progressive aren't always philosophically literate and right because people who are socially conservative sometimes don't want to be.

    I think the insistence to distinguish sex and gender doesn't amount to something being demanded as much as an insistence that fewer demands be made on the basis of sex. If you are a biological determinist, or biological essentialist, about sex and gender, for instance, you are likely to judge that someone who doesn't comply with a demand regarding how people of a given sex ought to behave isn't entitled to be considered normal. This socially prevalent demand for normal behavior, construed with reference to the alleged link between biological sex and gender-appropriate behavior, seems grounded into a form of the naturalistic fallacy (or, sometimes, divine command).
  • andrewk
    1.5k
    For most of my life 'gender' was considered a polite synonym for sex, because the word 'sex' was considered a bit risqué. That has lead to many forms asking for people's gender when they actually mean sex. Simone de Beauvoir saw gender as an oppressive collection of cultural expectations about behaviour, based on people's sex, and she wished it would disappear. I agree with de Beauvoir, and see the best way towards this being to work towards discarding the notion of gender, so that people of any sex should feel free to dress, talk and generally behave in whatever way they want.

    My minor way of contributing to this rebellion is to cross out the label 'Gender' whenever it appears on a form I am asked to fill in, and write next to it 'Sex'. Yeah, call me a dangerous radical, but somebody's got to do it.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.8k
    I have male biology, so my sex is male. I also view myself as being a male, so my gender is male. On forms, in sports, etc. - sex is more important to know than gender.
  • Sir2u
    1.3k
    Most dictionaries include the same definition for sex and gender,

    The properties that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive roles.

    I all ways thought that people just used gender instead of sex because it sounds weird talking peoples "sex role" whereas "gender role" is OK. I think they still do, they just don't know it.

    My minor way of contributing to this rebellion is to cross out the label 'Gender' whenever it appears on a form I am asked to fill in, and write next to it 'Sex'. Yeah, call me a dangerous radical, but somebody's got to do it.andrewk

    I remember some stupid form the embassy sent to all of the expats living around here, he got pissed of when someone wrote "yes please" as an answer to the question about sex. The next form had gender on it. I doubt he ever figured out who done it. He he.
  • yatagarasu
    109


    My minor way of contributing to this rebellion is to cross out the label 'Gender' whenever it appears on a form I am asked to fill in, and write next to it 'Sex'. Yeah, call me a dangerous radical, but somebody's got to do it.andrewk

    hahaha. That's pretty great. Thank you for inspiring me. : D

    In response to the opening poster. Gender is social constructed and therefore maliable. Biological sex is not. Once you know that then you'll truly realize how often people confused transsexual and transgender.
    : /
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    People are saying because it’s different depending on cultures that it is therefore malleable, but my question is, because it is malleable on a societal level, does that then imply that it is also malleable on a individual level? And also does the fact that it changes mean that all forms of change are good? Can there be change in a negative sense or is it always positive? (Like is implied with this ‘accept the change’ narrative)

    What I mean by this, is that when things change on societal levels it happens slowly and is barely noticeable most of the time. When it’s on a personal level it’s quick and sudden and it’s left to the individual to decide how the change should occur based on personal whims. But should individuals be given so much freedom to make changes to things that naturally occur very slowly and over time with the consensus of a lot of people, and all of that responsibility to be just thrown into he hands of a person with access to a plethora of ways of representing oneself?

    If I, as a straight white cis gendered male, decided I wanted to walk around in jock strap, an undersized bright illuminescent pink tutu and a bow tie from now on in public, should I be able to? Or should society have a say in whether or not that is appropriate? And where is that line? There has to be a line somewhere, but there is more focus on the fact that people should be able to express themselves than trying to establish when people are going too far.

    The line is so wobbly. And don’t say it’s obvious where it is because it’s not. But to establish where the line is is important. Because if you don’t, then people are completely in their right to question whether or not something is appropriate without being lambasted as a bigot.

    Where is the line people? Where is going too far? And if change is the ethos, will whatever you say the line is today become the new territory to explore for the youth to which we raise on an ethos of change? If we are trying so hard today to push the norms, what will the youths be trying to push in another 2-3 generations? Once all this change has become a norm and is no longer ‘shocking’? Where will we explore then?

    Can anyone see the pattern here? Or what the next logical steps are for a society that sets up its norms in such a flexible way with an emphasis on the past being negative and the future being positive (based on its level of change and malleability from the past)?

    Any comments? Or am I a genderphobe? Or a changeaphobe? Or a phobe-aphobe?

    Please forgive my rant. I’m just incredibly confused about something that is incredibly confusing. I’m being asked to just understand and be compassionate and the more I try to understand the more flaws I see and the more confusing the principles of (post?) modernity seem to be. Hardly any one is trying to make sense anymore, their just trying to be creative under the pretense of being rational. Which is pretty bloody creative if you think about it.

    PS not that creativity is inherently bad, it just depends on where you apply it and to what degree
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    I
    the best way towards this being to work towards discarding the notion of gender, so that people of any sex should feel free to dress, talk and generally behave in whatever way they want.andrewk

    What about this self identified alien:

    http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/02/make-up-artist-who-identifies-as-alien-hot-mess-wants-genitals-removed-to-become-sexless-6484022/
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    Also, isn’t being ‘genderless’ a gender choice and therefore a gender? Which kinda undermines itself?

    If that was on a form, where would you put it?

    Gender - Male/female/other/I don’t have a gender?

    Or would it contain it’s on like section on the form away from the gender catagories?
  • Erik
    567
    People are saying because it’s different depending on cultures that it is therefore malleable, but my question is, because it is malleable on a societal level, does that then imply that it is also malleable on a individual level? And also does the fact that it changes mean that all forms of change are good? Can there be change in a negative sense or is it always positive? (Like is implied with this ‘accept the change’ narrative)Mr Phil O'Sophy

    Seems a bit of a non-sequitur. I don't think accepting the malleability of cultural norms precludes one from taking a harsh stance towards specific changes occuring in their society.

    There have been some prominent culturally conservative philosophers who've embraced the notion of the historicity of human values, practices, etc. while also thinking the modern world represents a sharp decline relative to previous eras. I'm thinking along the lines of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and a few others who compared our situation unfavorably in many ways to previous eras, especially the glory days of the ancient Greeks.

    They, too, wanted change, but the type of radical change they longed for would be a nightmare for most political and social progressives out there today.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    What conclusion do you think I was making that is arbitrary? I thought I was pointing out some problems and asking questions about the conclusions we should infer. I made no definite answers to the problems. I never said that we should take a harsh stance lol I asked questions none of which you've confronted.

    If anything I was pointing out the problems of the demand for radical change, rather than arguing for it. My point is not so much that I know the answer to the problems, but that I think the questions I’m asking are valid questions that need confronting. And for us to proceed carefully when in uncharted territory, and not blunder forward at full speed like plonkers into the darkness with the assumption there is nothing to bump into or any holes to fall down.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    above comment was meant for you Erik sorry I forgot to add your name.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966

    PS I certainly don’t see the ancient Greeks as the good old glory days lol
  • Erik
    567

    I'll re-read the specific post I responded to - and I only responded to one of the many questions you posed - before commenting in detail.

    Quickly though, I assumed I was offering support of your intuition that change is not always for the better. That seems a questionable modern prejudice which I'm pretty sure you don't share based on the overall tone of your post and the specific questions you raised in it.

    But yeah, I'll read again and check back...
  • Erik
    567
    PS I certainly don’t see the ancient Greeks as the good old days lolMr Phil O'Sophy

    Most don't of course. But the larger point is that one can be a radical historicist, a fierce critic of the modern world as being essentially nihilistic, and a proponent of radical change all at the same time.

    The only relevance of this I guess is that it challenges the standard and IMO oversimplified progressive/conservative dichotomy.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966

    Ahh ok sorry. I read:
    non-sequiturErik
    And googled it because I didn’t know what it meant and it looked like you were saying my conclusions were wrong which made it seem as though what followed was a reason as to why you thought I was wrong.
  • Erik
    567


    No no not your conclusions, but the conclusions of those who hold the position that change ipso facto is positive. I should have made that clear.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966

    Ahh ok now your comment makes more sense. In which case, good point lol
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    oversimplified progressive/conservative dichotomy.Erik

    Yeah I think politics is only useful insofar as both the left and the right see the necessity of the other side and work towards a common goal that sits in the overlap between them and to move carefully and precisely together, forward in unison with patience.

    Now all I seem to be able to notice is a cut thoat political atmosphere that demonises its opposition as the enemy, which pushes the polar sides further apart leaving very little room for overlap and ergo very little to agree on. The distance between the left and right has almost become a chasm from which to throw stones across. The ethos is no longer patience, but to stampede ahead in a panic.

    The pattern that follows from this is an increase in chaos. A bastardisation and neglect of the yang, and an embracement and idolisation of the yin. The problem being that neither should be bastardised or made preferential, but the line that joins the two should be walked along carefully.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    The problem being that neither should be bastardised or made preferential, but the line that joins the two should be walked along carefully.Mr Phil O'Sophy

    The BIG question is: How do we do that?
  • Erik
    567
    I absolutely agree with you that there may be significant points of convergence between the two sides in the debate. I've actually spent a good deal of time thinking about this very issue and typically get positive feedback from those I pitch my ideas to.

    It clearly involves clarifying terms and engaging in other tedious but essential legwork, but it's an important topic that I'd like to discuss elsewhere. I don't want to distract from Roke's topic any more than I already have, so let's start a discussion on that one and get to work.
  • Michael
    7.2k
    If I, as a straight white cis gendered male, decided I wanted to walk around in jock strap, an undersized bright illuminescent pink tutu and a bow tie from now on in public, should I be able to? Or should society have a say in whether or not that is appropriate? And where is that line? There has to be a line somewhere, but there is more focus on the fact that people should be able to express themselves than trying to establish when people are going too far.Mr Phil O'Sophy

    You want a line somewhere? How about a line that says that if it is acceptable for people with one type of genitalia to wear a particular item of clothing then it is acceptable for people with a different type of genitalia to wear that same item of clothing? Nothing about biology makes it the case that it's appropriate for people with male genitalia to wear trousers but not skirts or for people with female genitalia to wear skirts but not trousers, or for people with female genitalia to wear make up and high heels but not people with male genitalia.

    And although historically there may have been a connection between the use of the pronouns "he" and "she" or the nouns "man" and "woman" and the biology of the person being talked about, there's no compelling reason to insist that this use can't evolve as has been the case with other words. Meanings change.

    These are the socially constructed gender norms that need not be dogmatically followed.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    I've actually spent a good deal of time thinking about this very issue and typically get positive feedback from those I pitch my ideas to.Erik

    I would love to hear your ideas in either a new thread (if its not specifically related to gender) or in a private message thread. Would be interesting to discuss that with you.

    It clearly involves clarifying terms and engaging in other tedious but essential legworkErik

    Funny that, I'm reading Berkeley right this very moment on his critique of abstract ideas (which gender appears to be) and I'm on his introduction, right this moment, at §22, where he says:

    First, I shall be sure to get clear of all controversies purely verbal; the sprinting up of which weeds in almost all the sciences has been a main hindrance to the growth of true and sound knowledge. Secondly, this seems to be a sure way to extricate myself out of that fine and subtle net of abstract ideas, which has so miserably perplexed and entangled the minds of men (my comments - the patricidal, misogynstic, cis-gendered, transfobic, sexist, b%£#@&*d!), and that with this peculiar circumstance, that by how much the finer and more curious was the wit of any man, by so much the deeper was he like to be ensnared, and faster held therein. Thirdly,... yada yada yada

    Interestingly and coincidently relevant (i'm doing an essay for Uni on Berkeley)
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    How about a line that says that if it is acceptable for people with one type of genitalia to wear a particular item of clothing then it is acceptable for people with a different type of genitalia to wear that same item of clothing?Michael

    So how about a man wearing skin tight yoga pants? Especially if said man happens to be fully loaded with junk that can't be hidden, and due to the skin tightness of the yoga pants can be clearly seen and outlined. Should that be acceptable in public?

    Nothing about biology makes it the case that it's appropriate for people with male genitalia to wear trousers but not skirtsMichael

    is there not something inappropriate about children seeing up a mans skirt when he's sat down on public transport with his legs open? (which Men tend to do more often than females)

    These are the socially constructed gender norms that need not be dogmatically followed.Michael

    There are also critiques of socially constructed gender norms (which are also socially constructed btw) that need not be dogmatically followed
  • Michael
    7.2k
    is there not something inappropriate about children seeing up a mans skirt when he's sat down on public transport with his legs open? (which Men tend to do more often than females)Mr Phil O'Sophy

    Is there not something inappropriate about children seeing up a woman's skirt when she's sat down on a public transport with her legs open?

    Of course. But it doesn't then follow that it's inappropriate for men or women to wear skirts. Only that it's inappropriate to look up someone's skirt and for someone wearing a skirt to sit with their legs open.

    Besides, how is it different to a kilt?

    So how about a man wearing skin tight yoga pants? Especially if said man happens to be fully loaded with junk that can't be hidden, and due to the skin tightness of the yoga pants can be clearly seen and outlined. Should that be acceptable in public?

    Perhaps not, but then that has nothing to do with the fact that it's "women's" clothing and everything to do with the fact that the outline of his genitals is visible (which I assume is less decent than the outline of a woman's breasts being visible)? We can always have a secondary rule that prohibits these exceptional cases.

    But then do a Google image search for "men in yoga pants". Hardly the horror show you're making it out to be.
  • Moliere
    1.4k
    I think of gender as having two sides of identity -- a social identity and a personal identity. They aren't stereotypes as much as they expressions and impressions; expressions to others and expressions to self, impressions from others and impressions from self. Depending on how fine we wish our gender categories to be we could actually generate numerous such groupings depending on how people express and are impressed upon by others and their self.

    It's also a much more complex and bigger question than even triadic or quarternary designations really imply. Gender is an aspect of identity, and so is actually a topic worthy of study because of this complexity and our general ignorance of the phenomena. (that is, it's more than just how we use words, it's an actual phenomena that can be studied)
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    Is there not something inappropriate about children seeing up a woman's skirt when she's sat down on a public transport with her legs open?Michael

    yes there is. I'm more conservative with regards to clothing and think people should cover their nakedness, not display it, male and female. But I would argue that women are less likely to sit with legs open than men. Men need to not squish the go-nads, so it can be required to give them some space.

    Of course. But it doesn't then follow that it's inappropriate for men or women to wear skirts.Michael
    I'd disagree, I think there are things about people that you will inevitably have (bad people exist), and by being so freely dressed you are indirectly (and unknowingly) perpetuating peoples perverted tendencies, and those who are trying to fight those tendencies will only find that task more difficult when people are walking around half naked. I do not think the public space should be a place for people to make sexual displays.

    A response to the possible criticism that it should not be considered a sexual display - when young males come of age, they set the bar pretty low for what they count as 'porn'. Simply going through shopping catalogues can suffice for someone hitting puberty. And so I would say certain displays of dress are wholly inappropriate for the public space considering there are young people everywhere, and whether you like it or not, they are effected by people who dress provocatively. I think the dressing situation combined with the porn addiction crisis in young males is directly responsible for creating an army of hyper horny young people that have a near zero - sense of moderation of self-restraint.

    Only that it's inappropriate to look up someone's skirtMichael
    Children are quite inquisitive, and don't necessarily understand why it is inappropriate and if they can get away with it (especially younger lads) they will look. Considering most parents sit glued to their phones I'm happy to assume that children get away with looking at lots of things they shouldn't be looking at.

    Besides, how is it different to a kilt?Michael
    Thats assuming i think the kilt is ok. lol. My family are scottish, and still, I don't think the kilt is a good thing either. So I guess if you think its ok you're not going to understand/ or agree with my criticism. To be consistent with my claims about dressing appropriately, I would have to follow that on to the kilt as well. Would be silly of me to accept one and not the other.

    Perhaps not, but then that has nothing to do with the fact that it's "women's" clothing and everything to do with the fact that the outline of his genitals is visible (which I assume is less decent than the outline of a woman's breasts being visible)? We can always have a secondary rule that prohibits these exceptional cases.

    But then do a Google image search for "men in yoga pants". Hardly the horror show you're making it out to be.
    Michael

    I think that men and women should make the effort to not display their private parts (that includes breasts.) I personally think these are private things that should be kept between partners. And who is deciding whats an exceptional case? I thought most of what you're describing as acceptable as an exceptional case. That alone will not solve the problem.

    I googled it, and think you're funny. I only saw things that proved my point (unhidable bulges), or they were baggy gypsy pants, had been photoshopped, or had it tucked in for the photoshoot.

    I think the whole claim rides on whether or not we should be creating environments that draw the attention of peoples eyes to places where they should not be drawn. There is something about forbidden fruit that draws us towards it, and so its best to hide forbidden fruits rather than display them and tell people not to go near them. If its inappropriate to look at, why is it appropriate to have it on display?

    Ask yourself why its inappropriate for people to run around naked. Based on your logic, (like you made with looking up skirts of people sat down with legs open) why can people not just walk around naked, and we shout at those people who complain for looking in the first place?? YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO CONTROL YOUR EYES! we could say.

    I think its a ridiculous argument. The more you're not supposed to look at something, the more you have to fight your brain to control yourself. its an unnecessary addition to society that only feeds to vanity, and the division in the opinion of those who see it as right/wrong.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    Something very interesting regarding children and resisting temptation, and why we should not display things that are forbidden, but should hide them:

  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    966
    Also, I think this video shows the differences between boys and girls a great deal. and although there may be exceptions to the case, I think those exceptions are also socially constructed, and so don't feel that a digression to 'well they were socially constructed that way' argument is sufficient, because the only suggestion to combat social construction... is with more social construction of a different kind. Its calling something a problem thats inescapable and shouldn't be viewed as a problem in and off itself. Especially when those who criticise it want to use social construction to combat it, which I find incredibly hypocritical.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.3k
    That has lead to many forms asking for people's gender when they actually mean sex. Simone de Beauvoir saw gender as an oppressive collection of cultural expectations about behaviour, based on people's sex, and she wished it would disappear.andrewk
    Simone de Beauvoir herself was probably confused about her own gender/sex by how she developed. This particular line in her Wikipedia article is telling:
    "De Beauvoir was intellectually precocious, fuelled by her father's encouragement; he reportedly would boast, "Simone thinks like a man!" — Wikipedia

    Even IF gender and sex were not synonyms based on the way that they are being defined (physiology vs. behavior), physiology normally defines one's behavior. In every other species, each organism reacts to, and interacts with, another based on their perception of the attributes of the other - like their health and sex. In other words, males not only act like males but are treated as such by others of it's kind.

    In humans you find this tiny fraction of the population confused about it's sex because of how they were interacted with as they developed from a very young age.
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