• Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    No, it's that magic thing about money: if you have it, you can be any damn thing you want to be.frank
    I don't understand the point you're trying to make here.

    Harry, I've never thought that sex is a social construct.fdrake
    That wasn't the problem I said that you have. Another problem you have is that you don't pay attention.

    Our identities are social constructions. You seem to.misundertand what I mean by social constuction.TheWillowOfDarkness
    You're not paying attention either.

    If identities are socially constructed, then that means that they are identities that are given by others, or assumed by others, not by an individual by themselves.

    You are mistaking your notion of sex for the body. As I said earlier, you are reasoning backwards. Instead of working from bodies which occur and are observed, you are trying to define what bodies exist by your expectation of what they must have. Deers don't need to be male to have antlers, humans don't need to be female to have breasts. For either to have a body, they only need existence of that body.TheWillowOfDarkness
    No. I make observations and notice that many bodies share similar features and functions to the point where 99.9% fit neatly into two categories. There are anomalies in nature because natural selection doesn't plan ahead. What does it mean to be an anomaly? It means that you don't fit neatly into those two categories that 99.9% of others fit into. It means that you are a different category, not the opposite of one of the other categories. The fact that anomalies exist isn't a good reason to dispose of our categories or to be sexist.
    .
  • fdrake
    2.6k
    If identities are socially constructed, then that means that they are identities that are given by others, or assumed by others, not by an individual by themselves.Harry Hindu

    Ok! How do you think someone gets an identity? Or do they just 'have' it from when they're born?
    And how do you think someone becomes influenced by or involved with a social construction?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    You're still skipping the issue. What is a social construction?

    We already went over how one gets various identities. Your problem is that you are confusing biological real identities (being born with certain body parts and functions) with SHARED ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THOSE IDENTITIES. Shared assumptions are not identities that one can assume for themselves, but are identities that are assumed by others about the individual, and our assumptions about people aren't always accurate. Isn't this the problem of generalizing people and putting them in boxes based on how they dress? Isn't that the definition of being biased and sexist?
  • fdrake
    2.6k


    We already went over how one gets various identities. Your problem is that you are confusing biological real identities (being born with certain body parts and functions) with SHARED ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THOSE IDENTITIES.Harry Hindu

    Oh I get it maybe, you think gender is about anatomical/natal sex, and not just influenced by it (as part of a complicated system of bodies and social processes)?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    No, it's about what you think. What is a social construction? What does it mean to be sexist? I have already explained myself. Explain yourself.
  • fdrake
    2.6k
    No, it's about what you thinkHarry Hindu

    Wait. Waaait. You think a person's identity is just about what they think?
  • fdrake
    2.6k
    What is a social construction? What does it mean to be sexist?Harry Hindu

    So just because I find this interesting. I take a naturalistic view on social construction. That might seem like a contradiction in terms, but it's quite a defensible thesis.

    The general reputation of social construction is the kind of thing you'd expect to see on Tumblr or out of the mouths of over zealous social anthropology under graduates: "Morality is just a social construction!", without ever explaining what a social construction is, this 'just' is the operative word, not the 'social construction' part.

    The general reputation of social constructions is that they have very little to do with anything material; this conception sees them as they're cultural artefacts, floating social facts, generated by the aggregate of individual assumptions and perception we have about shared practices. You can turn the causal structure on its head and get the same idea; the cultural artefacts and floating social facts generate the aggregate of individual assumptions and perceptions we have about shared practices.

    You seem to want to situate identity in either of these conceptions; either individual identities partake in the generation of social conditions; as if they are prior to them; or social conditions partake in the generation of identities. You also seem to insist on a purity of definition, social constructions and identities and never the twain shall meet, based on your metaphysical intuitions about social constructions and identities.

    In opposition to this, I see it reciprocally; people partially construct social stuff, social stuff partially constructs people. It's a blending on all levels; a reciprocal dependence that undermines any demand for their scission. There are points of overlap, and processes outside of the two.

    I'd like you to bracket and articulate these assumptions so we can discuss them. We'd probably make more progress that way than talking cross purposes.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.9k


    My point is that your account of sex is just another layer of these sexist assumptions. What does anyone any one need a penis to be a man, a womb to be a woman? Just as an identity is not one's hair or dress, it is not one's biological features either.

    There are no "real biological idenities" because they fact of an identity is a different to existence of a biologcal feature. Such a notion of real biological identities are just another sexist assumption about about a body and how it belongs.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    My point is that your account of sex is just another layer of these sexist assumptions.TheWillowOfDarkness
    No, sexist assumptions are assumptions that have nothing to do with one's sex - like what kind of clothes you should wear and what kind of job you should have because of your sex. It is sexist to say that women shouldn't be able to join the military. It isn't sexist to say that women have vaginas.

    What does anyone any one need a penis to be a man, a womb to be a woman?

    There are no "real biological idenities" because they fact of an identity is a different to existence of a biologcal feature. Such a notion of real biological identities are just another sexist assumption about about a body and how it belongs.
    TheWillowOfDarkness
    What does anyone need a dangling anatomy between one's legs that urinates and fertilizes women's wombs to have a "penis"? We don't need words to categorize the world. We don't need words to notice the similarities and differences between people. We simply need eyes and a brain. We only need words if we want to communicate those differences and similarities to other people. I don't need the words "penis", "vagina", "man", "woman" etc. to notice the similarities between certain body parts on different individuals and how others share different body parts, but there are only two groups. I don't notice anyone with a completely different body part than the two that I see on everyone. We don't have three, four, or even ten different kinds of sex organs. We only have two.

    Just as an identity is not one's hair or dress, it is not one's biological features either.TheWillowOfDarkness
    Then why do people claim to have an identity of man or woman based on their style of dress and hair? You seem to be denying the existence of gender as an identity.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    What is a social construction? What does it mean to be sexist? — Harry Hindu


    So just because I find this interesting.
    fdrake
    I've asked those questions numerous times and you're just now finding it interesting?

    I take a naturalistic view on social construction. That might seem like a contradiction in terms, but it's quite a defensible thesis.fdrake
    You win a gold metal for the mental gymnastics, fdrake.

    The general reputation of social construction is the kind of thing you'd expect to see on Tumblr or out of the mouths of over zealous social anthropology under graduates: "Morality is just a social construction!", without ever explaining what a social construction is, this 'just' is the operative word, not the 'social construction' part.fdrake
    I see the exact same thing of leftists throwing about this claim that "gender is a social construction", without ever explaining what a social construction is. It's why I've had to ask the question several times of you - that you are just now finding interesting. :brow:

    The general reputation of social constructions is that they have very little to do with anything material; this conception sees them as they're cultural artefacts, floating social facts, generated by the aggregate of individual assumptions and perception we have about shared practices. You can turn the causal structure on its head and get the same idea; the cultural artefacts and floating social facts generate the aggregate of individual assumptions and perceptions we have about shared practices.

    You seem to want to situate identity in either of these conceptions; either individual identities partake in the generation of social conditions; as if they are prior to them; or social conditions partake in the generation of identities. You also seem to insist on a purity of definition, social constructions and identities and never the twain shall meet, based on your metaphysical intuitions about social constructions and identities.

    In opposition to this, I see it reciprocally; people partially construct social stuff, social stuff partially constructs people. It's a blending on all levels; a reciprocal dependence that undermines any demand for their scission. There are points of overlap, and processes outside of the two.

    I'd like you to bracket and articulate these assumptions so we can discuss them. We'd probably make more progress that way than talking cross purposes.
    fdrake

    If social constructions have very little to do with anything material, then how is it that they influence our social behaviors?

    Social constructions are ideas about the physical world. They can be expectations or assumptions of some physical person. We all have certain functions and limitations based on our physiology. When these expectations and assumptions begin to split from from those actual functions and limitations, they come racist, sexist, etc. They being to force people into boxes that that have nothing to do with their physiological functions and limitations, yet they are based on those functions and limitations. Saying that blacks are criminals because they are black is racist because it is an assumption about a person based on the color of their skin - their physiology. It is an illogical assumption because the color of one's skin doesn't make one a criminal. One's actions do, and one simply needs to point to all the whites in prison to show that one's skin color doesn't make one a criminal. One's skin color has nothing to do with being a criminal, yet their skin color is being cited as the reason for being a criminal.

    The same goes for sexism. It is sexist to put men and women in assumed boxes based on their sex, yet have nothing to do with their functions and limitations as a particular sex. It is a social construction (and sexist) to assume that women need to wear dresses to be a woman, or that men need to wear pants to be men, just as it is sexist to say that women shouldn't be boxing, or shouldn't be joining the military, or that men shouldn't cry. These are assumptions based on one's sex, that have nothing to do with one's functions and limitations as a particular sex. So when a man comes along and claims to be a woman when wearing a dress, it reinforces those sexist assumptions. Why can't he just be a man in a dress?

    Social constructions are shared assumptions - meaning that they are social, not individual feelings. They exist as shared expectations, which is to say that you and I both would agree on this expectation, not that we would both have different views, much less complete polarizing expectations. Different, or polarizing expectations would not qualify as a social construction. So for someone to come along and say that they assume the opposite - that men wearing a dress makes one a woman - they aren't sharing the same expectation as the culture they are part of. They are still making an assumption based on sex that has nothing to do with sex and is therefore sexist! So you can still be sexist without it being a social construction. Individuals can make up their own assumptions about people that differ from their culture, but that isn't a social construction. It is an individual belief.

    A great example would be religion. Religion is a social construction and they vary from culture to culture. One religion claims that Muslims aren't true believers. Muslims claim that Christians are infidels. They assume the opposite thing, both of which are socially constructed, yet both are wrong. A Muslim within a Christian culture would assume the opposite of the social construction, yet their assumption is just as wrong as the social construction.

    When a man claims to identify with the "identity" of a woman when wearing a dress, what they are calling an "identity" is an illogical and sexist assumption of one's real identity. It's not really an identity at all. It is an assumption, or an expectation, of one's real identity. Instead of agreeing with the sexist assumption, we should tell them that it is sexist and that it is okay to wear a dress and still be a man, and that it is okay to cry and still be a man.

    Maybe we should just abolish the social construction that humans should wear clothes. :grin: Then "cisgenders" wouldn't have to worry about what's in someone's underwear. It would be plain to see. The expectations that we have of the sexes makes it easier for "cisgenders" to recognize each other before getting to the bedroom. Even gays have a problem distinguishing between men and women if men dressed as women and women dressed as men. So even though it is sexist, it is useful for most humans to recognize each other in cultures where wearing clothes are a mandatory, strictly enforced social construction. Abolish clothes and you are on the way to abolishing gender and sexist social constructions.
  • fdrake
    2.6k
    I've asked those questions numerous times and you're just now finding it interesting?Harry Hindu

    Actually no, not once in this thread have you ever asked what I thought a social construction is. I checked. There are no questions like "fdrake what do you think a social construction is?" or "how do you think social constructions relate to bodies?" or "how do you think social constructions relate to performativity theory?" or "how do you think performativity theory relates to bodies?", all of which I would've responded to just as charitably as your genuine question about what I thought.

    What you've actually done every single time (and I've checked) you've used the term 'social construction' in our discussion, you've assumed that my account of them is the same as your account of them. And you've assumed that your account of the relationship of gender (when conceived as a social construct) to gender identity is correct. And you've assumed that your account of the relationship of gender expression to gender identity is correct, and you've assumed all of these things by how you've accused me of contradicting myself. You want me to argue on your terms, your unstated assumptions, that ensure everything goes your way. And you insist on this so much that you're committed to the belief that the UN has no freakin' clue what the definitions it uses mean.

    What I've been doing in our discussion is challenging those assumptions of yours, which you have misinterpreted, or wilfully ignored, or characterised as irrelevant. If you bracket your assumptions above, you're way more likely to see my account as internally consistent.

    My motive for bringing in the UN definitions is precisely to challenge the assumptions you made with a credible source. So let's go through your assumptions of how stuff works, now that you've done me the pleasure of actually describing how you think, albeit in a limited fashion related solely to the idea of social constructions.

    Throughout this, it's important to keep in mind that there are lots of varieties of social constructions which behave very differently. "Social construction" is an umbrella term for any piece of social artifice. Their only points of commonality (as I see it) are that particular social constructions are the name of an entity (like "St. Johns' University" or "Google") or social process (like "baptism" or "driving lessons") that occurs as a result of or is constituted by (and these are inequivalent!) the actions, ideas and personal states of its constituents. Its constituents may also be other social constructions; like the different sub companies of a big one, or the different variations on a religious ritual, or the cosignatories on a treaty.

    Social constructions are ideas about the physical worldHarry Hindu

    No, institutions are social constructions and are not just ideas. We do not think the law into being, we must act and think together to bring it about. Corporate persons are not ideas, they are legal persons, which are social constructions in the above sense.

    They can be expectations or assumptions of some physical personHarry Hindu

    Not simply this, they can be expectations or assumptions expressed in a binding agreement between countries, like a treaty. Or they can be a hierarchical management system for a large company. The 'individuals' constituting or generating any given social construction need not be individual people at all even if they necessarily involve (individual partaking, co-constitution) the actions of people.

    You've gone in two sentences and you've already missed a lot of the nuances of our social ontology.

    We all have certain functions and limitations based on our physiology.Harry Hindu

    This is true, but one wonder's how Boris Johnson's spleen constrains his politics. Also see above points. This joke illustrates your all too hasty collapse of social ontology into individuals' bodies.

    When these expectations and assumptions begin to split from from those actual functions and limitations, they come racist, sexist, etc.Harry Hindu

    This is garbled. 'Split from' how? How is it possible to 'split' expectations and assumptions from the bodily functions which generate them? Aha! I agree with you, composites of individuals acting together result or partake in emergent relational dynamics! Just like social constructions!

    And... you think sexism and racism derive from the inappropriate having of opinions about bodies? Or simply that the opinions are no longer solely determined by bodies? Or... I don't even know man. I mean, what even is this? Racism and sexism because the... beliefs about (who believes, what do they believe about, where do the beliefs come from gaaarh)... bodies are... split from the bodies...

    They being to force people into boxes that that have nothing to do with their physiological functions and limitations, yet they are based on those functions and limitationsHarry Hindu

    Yes, you actually believe it, sexism and racism are having ideas about bodies which are not solely determined by the bodies. Or rather than the bodies do not... reliably signal? a necessary... interpretation of... themselves... Yeah.

    . Saying that blacks are criminals because they are black is racist because it is an assumption about a person based on the color of their skin - their physiology.Harry Hindu

    Wait. Waaait. You actually think this:

    Sexism = any opinion deriving solely from sexed body bits.
    Racism = any opinion deriving solely from skin colour.

    I thought you didn't want to..

    split (assumptions and expectations) from those actual functions and limitation (of bodies)

    I mean, we're both going to agree that men are taller than women on average. And we're going to agree that this has nothing to do with expected skill of a typical man or woman in a technical field (I hope).

    Perhaps you mean that a prejudicial belief induced by observing someone's anatomical characteristics cannot be based solely on an accurate appraisal of those anatomical characteristics in their relation to the topic of prejudice? IE, you expect a random man to be taller than a random woman drawn from the population of people on Earth, and this is not sexist because it's based on accurate statistical information about human bodies; but if someone expected a random man to be smarter than a random woman drawn from the population of people on Earth, this would be a prejudiced belief because the information isn't accurate. (Edit: This is completely artificial from how norms function too... expectations and passing judgements are not based on statistical information.)

    Well, this isn't right either Harry. For obvious logical reasons; this criterion does not distinguish false beliefs about statistical properties of anatomy from prejudiced ones; but you're making a waaaaaay less benign error.

    Your analysis is based on prejudiced beliefs rather than systemic injustices and systems of learning prejudiced beliefs. Perhaps if you focussed more on the latter two categories you'd see the need for social constructions; you know, when you've not rendered them irrelevant to the issue by fiat.

    Edit: anyway, the talk about sexism is related to but distinct from the understanding of gender as a social construction, my keyboard warrior tendencies over-rode my sense of logic, sorry peeps!

    You really were sitting on a mental dumpster fire here! It's a lot more entertaining now we've opened the lid, let's watch it burn.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    What you've actually done every single time (and I've checked) you've used the term 'social construction' in our discussion, you've assumed that my account of them is the same as your account of them.fdrake
    No, I provided the definition of social construction from your source - Google. You provided definitions of "gender" as a social construction, but never clarified what you meant by "social construction", so I went to your source and provided it for you. You are contradicting yourself if you suddenly don't like your own source of definitions when it doesn't fit your convoluted sense of the relationship between sex and some assumption about one's sex. Remember that you confused the sex terms of male and female with your supposed gender terms of man and woman?

    And you insist on this so much that you're committed to the belief that the UN has no freakin' clue what the definitions it uses mean.fdrake
    Does the UN create social constructions for all the other cultures of the world? Is Iran going to use that same definition that the UN is using? The UN is a political entity, not a scientific one. This is a scientific issue, not a political one. That's part of your problem.

    If you bracket your assumptions above, you're way more likely to see my account as internally consistent.fdrake
    The following isn't consistent.
    The general reputation of social constructions is that they have very little to do with anything material;fdrake
    No, institutions are social constructions and are not just ideas. We do not think the law into being, we must act and think together to bring it about. Corporate persons are not ideas, they are legal persons, which are social constructions in the above sense.fdrake
    So, do social constructions involve material things, like people and their actions, or are they just ideas that stay in our heads?

    I should clarify that my position is that the distinction between "physical"/"material" and "mental"/"ideas" is incoherent. Ideas are causal just as much as any action. So our assumptions can cause us to treat people differently, and not only that but they are also about the world itself.

    This is true, but one wonder's how Boris Johnson's spleen constrains his politics. Also see above points. This joke illustrates your all too hasty collapse of social ontology into individuals' bodies.fdrake
    How does this address anything that I've said? We don't have shared assumptions about people with or without spleens. We have share assumptions about people with vaginas and penises. If we assumed certain behaviors of people that have spleens as opposed to those without that have nothing to do with them having a spleen or not, we would be engaging in spleenism, as opposed to sexism. So if we assumed that Boris should wear boots because he has a spleen and all others who had their spleen removed should wear sneakers, then what does your style of shoes have to do with you having a spleen or not? Is it okay for Boris to wear sneakers and announce that he feels like he doesn't have spleen when his CT scan shows that he does? Is it okay for Boris to announce that he is identifies with being spleenless when he wears sneakers? Doesn't that reinforce spleenism?

    I already pointed out the difference between assumptions and expectations of others that are shared, which qualifies them as social constructions per your own source of definitions, and assumptions and expectations of others that are not shared - that are from the individual -and would not qualify as a social construction.
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