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How do you define gender?


MercyA
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I've found it incredibly valuable to learn about so many different perspectives here. I do live in a rural bubble and can't have discussions like these with my "in person" friends. (I was going to say "IRL" friends, but you all are just as real to me and just as loved as the friends who live nearby.)

I have always used the words "gender" and "sex" interchangeably, but these are words which are changing meaning in our culture. So, how do you define gender?

Totally open-ended question. 

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Gender is a social construct that is part of how people form and communicate identity in groups.

Gender is related to sex, but sex is biology-only. The 'facts' of your 'parts' indicate one's sex. (Or possibly genetics too?) However we do not relate to one another based on the 'facts' of our 'parts'. There are two reasons for this: (1) In most cases obscuring many of our secondary sexual characteristics is socially normal, and (2) Even though we relate in gendered ways, the ways we treat people in gendered way are not related to the physical reality and presence of their male or female parts.

Instead of knowing each other's parts, and relating based on parts -- we know something else about each other. That 'other thing we know' is their gender. You know lots of people who are men-to-you, but I doubt that you have seen any irrefutable physical evidence that they are biologically male in most cases. Maybe you have seen body hair or adam's apples, or height, or other things (which are legit hints, for sure) but you aren't making any intimate checks before you agree to the *social* expectation that you will *socialize* with them under the general category of men.

As far as forming identity, this is (at least to some extent) a sociological function as well. We know who we are, not in isolation alone, but also in relationships. Among women you are an insider to that category. Among men, you are an outsider to that category. With a girl you are co-feminine, but not co-adult -- you have one thing in common and one type of differentiation. We all think of ourselves these ways because humans are heavily socially wired. It's tough for us to think of 'who am I, just me, alone'. That's why gender is a sociological concept more than it is a psychological concept. (Or maybe it's both, but I've only studied it from the sociological side.)

I'll stop now and wait for more input. I'm sure I have plenty to learn too!

Edited by bolt.
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As an actively harmful concept. 

Everything that needs to be discussed can be discussed with reference to sex or other characteristics. 

We all have a sexed body, we all encounter sex-based stereotypes, we all exhibit some sex-linked behaviours. At a population level (not at an individual level) there are traits more commonly seen in each sex.

In addition, we all have a personality. 

People with dysphoria have an intense and persistent discomfort with their sexed body. People with sub clinical dysphoria experience intermittent and manageable discomfort with their sexed body. In many humans, particularly during puberty, there is a normative discomfort with changes to the sexed body. 

Additionally, a small % of people are born with differences of sexual development. These differences are sex-linked. 

Gender is a term with multiple meanings; a synonym, for the squeamish, for sex; a term used to describe sex-stereotypes; a term used to describe sex-stereotypes as applied to how one presents.  When paired with identity, it means a subjective state of feeling. It's a language term.  

I think people in the West are becoming increasingly disassociated from the reality of the sexed body, and the replacement of sex with gender is an indication of this disassociation.

Edited by Melissa Louise
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Well, I'd say that another person's gender is that person's business - not mine. I believe in live and let live, and none of that involves dwelling too deeply on other people's personal lives. The names they use, the clothes they wear, the public bathrooms they frequent - if these things are what they want to do, then okay, I'm all for it. It's no skin off my nose, and frankly, I think there's something unhealthy about people who are obsessed with the transfolks.

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(Actually, as a specific bathroom addendum here, I feel we will never have potty parity until we have universal unisex bathrooms. No urinals, everybody stands on the same line. The discrimination is literally structural.)

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5 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

I think there's something unhealthy about people who are obsessed with the transfolks.

Um...I hope this wasn't directed at me? It's not a subject I think about much outside of discussion on the forum. And, FWIW, I don't care what bathrooms people use.

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No, if I meant you in particular I either would've not posted or actually said your name. One or the other. I can be quite passive aggressive, but that doesn't mean I'm doing it all the time.

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11 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Is there a reason that society requires gender?

That's a really good question.

My personal understanding of gender is that it refers to socially imposed notions of masculinity and femininity. 

I don't think society needs those. A healthy society can acknowledge the sexes, including differences in population-level need and provision, without enforcing gender. 

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4 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I don't think society needs those. A healthy society can acknowledge the sexes, including differences in population-level need and provision, without enforcing gender. 

Does any such society exist?

ETA to clarify: i.e. a society where a human's sex is only considered where that is biologically relevant?

Edited by regentrude
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Just now, regentrude said:

Does any such society exist?

Haha, no, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be working towards it, rather than regressing into a reification of gender. 

However, I don't think WTM is the place to get into gender-abolition feminism, and it's kinda off topic, and I don't want to derail Mercy's thread. 

 

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Just now, Melissa Louise said:

Haha, no, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be working towards it, rather than regressing into a reification of gender. 

However, I don't think WTM is the place to get into gender-abolition feminism, and it's kinda off topic, and I don't want to derail Mercy's thread. 

 

You could make a spin-off, I'd be interested.

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I am not at all happy with the reinforcement of gender stereotypes that seems to be part of current trans activism. The Barbie-at-the-feminine-end-of-the-spectrum and G.I. Joe-at-the-masculine-end stuff. The transwoman I heard interviewed on NPR who talked about liking pink and sparkly stuff as evidence of being a woman. 

I am not a person who likes pink, sparkles, or has anything in common with Barbie. Those spectrum charts would definitely place me more towards the G.I. Joe side than the Barbie side.

And I am 100% a woman. I have a female body that does fundamentally female things like grow and birth and feed babies. And that categorization is important and does not apply to a male-bodied person regardless of how much lip-stick and medically-produced cleavage is in evidence.

I don't think we are headed in a healthy direction. I think that rather than moving away from stereotypes and boxes to shove people into based on their sex we are instead reinforcing the idea that it is the stereotypes that really matter, and everyone needs to identify the box they fit in best and try to make sure everyone else identifies them according to their box as well.

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5 minutes ago, maize said:

 the reinforcement of gender stereotypes

This is also what I'm confused about.  I've been trying to read up on it, but it is really hard to find academic papers.

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6 minutes ago, lewelma said:

This is also what I'm confused about.  I've been trying to read up on it, but it is really hard to find academic papers.

The current push to define "boy", "girl", "man", and "woman" according to an abstract and ever-shifting concept termed "gender," rather than according to biological sex, tends to elevate gender stereotypes. How does a person with a male body show that they are a woman? By adopting stereotypes of femininity. How does a thirteen year old girl, told that biological sex does not determine male-ness and female-ness, decide what gender box she fits in? By looking at whether she fits more masculine or feminine stereotypes.

The stereotypes become more rather than less powerful.

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1 minute ago, lewelma said:

This is the part I'm confused about. Can you expand on this? 

So, when I grew up, things were all about getting rid of gender ( or the socially imposed idea that women must be feminine, men must be masculine). Let toys be toys campaigns ( no gender segregated toys), similar clothing for kids of both sexes, pushing the idea that women can be capable in the workplace and that it's ok for men to cry.

Men and women understanding that they could, if they wanted, de-emphasize gender by playing around with it. Men could wear their hair long, women could dress in suits...none of it really mattered. Males and females both deserved full access to emotions, dress, careers, behaviours...not restricted by ideas about what each sex SHOULD do ( or, restricted only by the reality of the sexed body).

With the rise of the concept of gender identity has come a corresponding tightening of gender norms.

Butch women are one case study. Increasingly, many butch women ( or women who play with ideas of masculinity) have come to consider themselves as actually being men by virtue of that play. So the concept, masculinity, has returned to being seen as having an intrinsic link to maleness.

Whereas back in the 80's/90's, the concept was seen as having no essential link to one's sex. A feminine man was not a woman, by virtue of not performing masculinity. A masculine woman was still a woman. 

I personally feel it's regressive to link gender (masculinity and femininity) tightly to sex. It leads to tightly policed boxes for women (feminine), men (masculine) and a great big box (non-binary) for everyone who realises that they don't fit in to the other boxes. 

Let's just be done with boxes. 

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Funny story with toys, though. I was a good feminist with toys. My girls had cars and Lego as well as dolls etc. Ds gets to two or three, and he is totally obsessed with trains. Like, he only really will think or talk about trains. But he does like our Little House picture books, and he particularly likes the one about Almanzo. So I hand sew him an Almanzo doll to love and cherish, and to practice his nurturing play with. Took a while. This was a good doll. Hand sewn hair and all 

The big day comes. Almanzo doll is finished. I present Almanzo doll to ds. It is so soft and nice to look at and touch. I show him to tuck it into the dolly cot, or how to tie it in the kiddy baby carrier. Finally, I hand him Almanzo. 

He takes it, looks at it for a moment, then chucks it across the room. Toddles off to play with his trains again for another.two.years. 

So idk. I always think about this and wonder if I'm entirely wrong about feminism 😂

 

 

 

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I grew up thinking of "sex" (as in "what sex is the new baby... boy or girl?") and "gender" as exactly the same.  It defines your biological status.  It has been difficult for me to separate those two, and to think of "gender" not as physical characteristics, but as a mental/psychological mindset.  It still feels strange for me to do that, because like so many people on various threads have already stated, I don't feel psychologically "female" as opposed to anything else.  I actually think that's pretty common, and maybe even the most natural way to be if we're not influenced by culture.  I simply feel like "me," not "female me."

 

 

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2 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I grew up thinking of "sex" (as in "what sex is the new baby... boy or girl?") and "gender" as exactly the same.  It defines your biological status.  It has been difficult for me to separate those two, and to think of "gender" not as physical characteristics, but as a mental/psychological mindset.  It still feels strange for me to do that, because like so many people on various threads have already stated, I don't feel psychologically "female" as opposed to anything else.  I actually think that's pretty common, and maybe even the most natural way to be if we're not influenced by culture.  I simply feel like "me," not "female me."

 

 

So interesting. Can I ask, by 'the same', do you mean that the word gender was a synonym for sex, or that you were taught that gender (your sexed personality, I guess?) neatly mapped onto your sex ( as in, girls are sugar and spice)?

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Just now, Melissa Louise said:

So interesting. Can I ask, by 'the same', do you mean that the word gender was a synonym for sex, or that you were taught that gender (your sexed personality, I guess?) neatly mapped onto your sex ( as in, girls are sugar and spice)?

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

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5 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

I was and I did. I thought of them as interchangeable. 

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2 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

I think so. It's a very common understanding ( and a valid definition in a sea of changing definitions). 

I was born in the 70's. Where we lived, feminism was in the air - Women's Lib, it was called then. It was hard not to grow into seeing gender as a sociological concept, distinct from biology. 

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1 minute ago, J-rap said:

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

I was born later than that, and that’s what I thought about gender until 5-10 years ago (when people started saying you don’t know your baby’s gender when they’re born, you know their sex. I had always considered gender to be the same thing until then—like a more appropriate word for sex to use for babies and children 😂). 

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6 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

I think most people still use the words interchangeably, with gender being seen as the more polite term since sex has other meanings.

People talk about "what gender is the kitten" and I assume they are not referring to psychosocial concepts.

 

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Sex is one's biological sex.  For the vast, vast majority of the population what this means is a no brainer.  A small group have anomalous conditions that can make their biological sex murky.  This does not mean that biological sex lies on a spectrum.  It does not.  

Gender is a modern concept in that in ages past, one's gender and one's biological sex were always one and the same.  More recently the notion of gender has been separated from biological sex and refers to behaviors that a particular culture associates with a particular gender.   

As a person who would have been diagnosed with gender identity disorder of childhood (DSM III) had it been a thing when I was growing up in the 1970s, I am dismayed that the new focus on transgender...stuff...has set back the idea that one can be a particular biological sex and also exhibit behaviors that are typical of the opposite gender.  

I am beyond grateful that when I was growing up, the "treatment" for kids such as myself was a gentle but firm dose of reality.

Edited by EKS
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42 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

So, when I grew up, things were all about getting rid of gender ( or the socially imposed idea that women must be feminine, men must be masculine). Let toys be toys campaigns ( no gender segregated toys), similar clothing for kids of both sexes, pushing the idea that women can be capable in the workplace and that it's ok for men to cry.

Men and women understanding that they could, if they wanted, de-emphasize gender by playing around with it. Men could wear their hair long, women could dress in suits...none of it really mattered. Males and females both deserved full access to emotions, dress, careers, behaviours...not restricted by ideas about what each sex SHOULD do ( or, restricted only by the reality of the sexed body).

With the rise of the concept of gender identity has come a corresponding tightening of gender norms.

Butch women are one case study. Increasingly, many butch women ( or women who play with ideas of masculinity) have come to consider themselves as actually being men by virtue of that play. So the concept, masculinity, has returned to being seen as having an intrinsic link to maleness.

Whereas back in the 80's/90's, the concept was seen as having no essential link to one's sex. A feminine man was not a woman, by virtue of not performing masculinity. A masculine woman was still a woman. 

I personally feel it's regressive to link gender (masculinity and femininity) tightly to sex. It leads to tightly policed boxes for women (feminine), men (masculine) and a great big box (non-binary) for everyone who realises that they don't fit in to the other boxes. 

Let's just be done with boxes. 

What do academics who have come to a similar conclusion call themselves? I thought they were 'gender critical', but that seems to be a subset of radical feminism that has a lot of negative overlays to it.  Are there specific academics who study the impact of current culture on the tightening of gender norms?

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46 minutes ago, maize said:

The current push to define "boy", "girl", "man", and "woman" according to an abstract and ever-shifting concept termed "gender," rather than according to biological sex, tends to elevate gender stereotypes. How does a person with a male body show that they are a woman? By adopting stereotypes of femininity. How does a thirteen year old girl, told that biological sex does not determine male-ness and female-ness, decide what gender box she fits in? By looking at whether she fits more masculine or feminine stereotypes.

The stereotypes become more rather than less powerful.

Yes, this. 

Because if being a girl is no longer tied to being a juvenile female, then what is it? In what way is it a meaningful category?

A girl is someone who feels like a girl? Circular reasoning. It doesn't help us define the category. Plus, there are many juvenile females who don't 'feel like a girl' but just feel like themselves. 

A girl is someone who acts like a girl? How do girls act? Is there an aggregate 'girl' way of being? What of a juvenile female who doesn't 'act like a girl'? Is she shunted out of her own category?

A girl is likes the things girls like? This all presupposes there is an essential, immaterial nature of 'girlness'...

Isn't it just easier to say girl means juvenile female, and within that definition, there are a million different ways of experiencing and being a girl?

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3 minutes ago, lewelma said:

What do academics who have come to a similar conclusion call themselves? I thought they were 'gender critical', but that seems to be a subset of radical feminism that has a lot of negative overlays to it.  Are there specific academics who study the impact of current culture on the tightening of gender norms?

It's just bog standard feminism 🙂

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Gender seems to have two meanings these days. There is biological gender…that is defined by chromosomes. And there is the feelings gender…and that is defined by a person’s feelings. These days, feelings about gender for many had rendered the reality of actual biology as offensive to some people.

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The claim that we cannot tell males and females apart reliably without recourse to gender(ed presentation) or nudity is very confusing to me ( just reading through the thread). 

Is this a common problem? ie put an adult male and female side by side, with the same haircut and in jeans and a t-shirt, and you can't tell them apart 99 times out of 100? 

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35 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Funny story with toys, though. I was a good feminist with toys. My girls had cars and Lego as well as dolls etc. Ds gets to two or three, and he is totally obsessed with trains. Like, he only really will think or talk about trains. But he does like our Little House picture books, and he particularly likes the one about Almanzo. So I hand sew him an Almanzo doll to love and cherish, and to practice his nurturing play with. Took a while. This was a good doll. Hand sewn hair and all 

The big day comes. Almanzo doll is finished. I present Almanzo doll to ds. It is so soft and nice to look at and touch. I show him to tuck it into the dolly cot, or how to tie it in the kiddy baby carrier. Finally, I hand him Almanzo. 

He takes it, looks at it for a moment, then chucks it across the room. Toddles off to play with his trains again for another.two.years. 

So idk. I always think about this and wonder if I'm entirely wrong about feminism 😂

 

 

 

I think there was a strand of sociological thought, not just feminist thought, that assumed all behavioral differences between males and females were culturally determined. That basically builds on the "blank slate" assumptions of human development, which really haven't panned out under examination. 

There are some actual differences between average behavioral traits of boys and girls, biologically based differences; it isn't all nurture (not that nurture has no impact...there's an interplay). 

There are people, including small kids, who are not in the middle of the bell curve of average behaviors for their sex. There are many who exhibit behaviors closer to the average for the other sex. Of course there are! But the averages for many behaviors really are different.

Which, if you look at Every Single Mammalian Species On The Planet, means we actually fit in rather than being a remarkably unique outlier with zero sex-based behavioral differences.

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Just now, maize said:

I think there was a strand of sociological thought, not just feminist thought, that assumed all behavioral differences between males and females were culturally determined. That basically builds on the "blank slate" assumptions of human development, which really haven't panned out under examination. 

There are some actual differences between average behavioral traits of boys and girls, biologically based differences; it isn't all nurture (not that nurture has no impact...there's an interplay). 

There are people, including small kids, who are not in the middle of the bell curve of average behaviors for their sex. There are many who exhibit behaviors closer to the average for the other sex. Of course there are! But the averages for many behaviors really are different.

Which, if you look at Every Single Mammalian Species On The Planet, means we actually fit in rather than being a remarkably unique outlier with zero sex-based behavioral differences.

Yes, there are population level differences, for sure. Nature/nurture. No getting away from the sex binary. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

The claim that we cannot tell males and females apart reliably without recourse to gender(ed presentation) or nudity is very confusing to me ( just reading through the thread). 

Is this a common problem? ie put an adult male and female side by side, with the same haircut and in jeans and a t-shirt, and you can't tell them apart 99 times out of 100? 

I was thinking about this.  Of course I can.  And it is not the Adam's Apple.  I have been noticing that facial structures in men and women are different too though I don't know exactly how.  

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48 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Funny story with toys, though. I was a good feminist with toys. My girls had cars and Lego as well as dolls etc. Ds gets to two or three, and he is totally obsessed with trains. Like, he only really will think or talk about trains. But he does like our Little House picture books, and he particularly likes the one about Almanzo. So I hand sew him an Almanzo doll to love and cherish, and to practice his nurturing play with. Took a while. This was a good doll. Hand sewn hair and all 

The big day comes. Almanzo doll is finished. I present Almanzo doll to ds. It is so soft and nice to look at and touch. I show him to tuck it into the dolly cot, or how to tie it in the kiddy baby carrier. Finally, I hand him Almanzo. 

He takes it, looks at it for a moment, then chucks it across the room. Toddles off to play with his trains again for another.two.years. 

So idk. I always think about this and wonder if I'm entirely wrong about feminism 😂

 

I have a friend whose kids are the same age as me.  She was a feminist activist dating back to the late 60s and one of the first women rabbis.  Her daughter is a year older than me and her son is, I think, 3 years younger than me.  Like a lot of parents in that era, she went out of her way to make sure that the kids could play with any toys they liked and she didn't stress gender roles at all.  She was being interviewed by a feminist magazine when her kids were small.  The interviewer asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and without skipping a beat, her daughter said she wanted to be a model and her son said he wanted to be a policeman.   My friend said that in that moment she questioned everything she had ever assumed about gender just being a function of socialization.  

Our best couple friends have two daughters and the mom in that couple remembers that she gave my older son and her older daughter some dinosaurs to play with when they were really small and hadn't yet seen any movies or TV.  My son immediately started pretending the dinosaurs were blowing things up.  Her daughter immediately started mothering her dinosaurs like they were baby dolls.  

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1 minute ago, TravelingChris said:

I was thinking about this.  Of course I can.  And it is not the Adam's Apple.  I have been noticing that facial structures in men and women are different too though I don't know exactly how.  

Vague memories from my physical anthropology class many years ago suggest a narrower jaw in women and more prominent brow ridge in men, for starters.

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Just now, LucyStoner said:

I have a friend whose kids are the same age as me.  She was a feminist activist dating back to the late 60s and one of the first women rabbis.  Her daughter is a year older than me and her son is, I think, 3 years younger than me.  Like a lot of parents in that era, she went out of her way to make sure that the kids could play with any toys they liked and she didn't stress gender roles at all.  She was being interviewed by a feminist magazine when her kids were small.  The interviewer asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and without skipping a beat, her daughter said she wanted to be a model and her son said he wanted to be a policeman.   My friend said that in that moment she questioned everything she had ever assumed about gender just being a function of socialization.  

Our best couple friends have two daughters and the mom in that couple remembers that she gave my older son and her older daughter some dinosaurs to play with when they were really small and hadn't yet seen any movies or TV.  My son immediately started pretending the dinosaurs were blowing things up.  Her daughter immediately started mothering her dinosaurs like they were baby dolls.  

Biology is wild.

I guess I don't really have a problem with it, so long as it's a valid choice for the girl who hates dolls to blow up dinosaurs if she'd rather, or the boy to dress up in a tutu instead of the Superman cape. Without either being shamed for it, or being exiled from being considered a real girl or boy. 

All of mine are very gender conforming in all ways other than dress. Parental modelling might matter more than storybooks and toy choices. Idk. 

 

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I've never been very gender-conforming. Growing up with four brothers and five sisters that tendency stood out enough that my parents referred to me, fondly, as being "half boy". 

In the 80's, there was no implication that behaving in ways more associated with boys meant I actually was a boy. I was just a girl who acted more like my brothers than my sisters. I also wasn't pressured to act more "feminine"--my experience was basically that my family acknowledged that that was not my style and...that was that.

I'm worried that things are much more confusing for kids like me growing up now.

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7 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

I was thinking about this.  Of course I can.  And it is not the Adam's Apple.  I have been noticing that facial structures in men and women are different too though I don't know exactly how.  

I was thinking some more about this. 

There's definitely a lot of androgyny pre-puberty, and it increases again post- reproductive years. But in that period between early teens, and old age, we are at our least androgynous and most biologically distinct from each other. Which makes sense, given our species reproduces sexually. 

In real life, I am sometimes momentarily confused by a very butch woman. Normally once she speaks, there's no confusion, not is there often any confusion if she is side by side with a man. 

Of course, some people change their characteristics AND gender (presentation) because it is more comfortable for them to be perceived by others as the opposite or indeterminate sex. But that's different from a general inability to tell one from the other. 

 

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I got a lot of thoughts and no thoughts on this at the same time.  

I do know that I am increasingly alarmed by the regressive, black and white stereotypes that the teens in my extended family are referencing when they talk about gender.  When my niece was talking about her gender identity recently, she said that she "knew she was more than just a girl because she likes to wear pants". Child, when have you seen me wear anything *besides* pants?  Also, let's figure out WTF you mean by "more than just a girl".  This is just one example, there are so many.  It feels like we have gone backwards from where we were during my own childhood.  ETA: they did not learn this absolute thinking from me.  I think some them got some stupid messages about gender from their families but even that doesn’t seem to explain it all.  My older son sees it in his friends too.  

Edited by LucyStoner
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Yes, defining 'Gender' is a very important part of this whole current issue.

Different concepts wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't being used to legally supercede sex and therefore sex-based rights. 

Gender identity, expression or whatever, is not an issue - until it bumps up against the material reality of another group's rights. I don't object to male bodied people who act in more stereotypically feminine ways, I absolutely have a problem with that leading to male bodies in female prisons.

Make laws that protect the rights of trans people, just don't pretend that biological sex and sex based consequences disappear.

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1 hour ago, J-rap said:

I mean, exactly the same.  Synonyms.  So I could ask "What sex is the new baby" or "What gender is the new baby."  It referred to the biological, physical status.  I was born in the 1960's.  I wonder if other people born then grew up thinking the same?

I was born several years before you and yes, gender and sex were synonyms when I was growing up. I understand the difference now but I don't know if anyone back then thought of those words as referencing two different things.

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I was not a gender conforming child.  My parents let me pick out a present when I was a toddler and it was a yellow metal tonka truck.  I recall an affinity for exactly one doll and that was because I liked the little scottish outfit it came in.  I had a decided tendency to resolve conflicts with my fists.  I was cast to play Cinderella in a class play and hated it so much that I unilaterally recast myself as a mouse (there were no mice in the script- I just remembered seeing them in the movie, lol). Some other girl had to play Cinderella.  At a certain age, I stopped wearing dresses except for special occasions and by about age 9, I usually refused to wear them even on special occasions until I was about 13.  I played Little League until softball started and then I played softball until the end of high school.  I got ready for prom after a double header softball game and my date picked me up from the softball game.  Getting ready consisted of a sink shower, changing into a borrowed dress (actually, I borrowed that dress from the friend who embarrassed her feminist mom by aspiring to be a fashion model- she brought three dresses to school for me to choose from and I asked for her to pick), combing my hair and washing my face and applying lip gloss (it might have been chapstick TBH).  We went to the prom and dinner beforehand with several other couples.  The other girls had been getting ready all day and I remember thinking that that sounded like my own personal version of hell.  In college for awhile I went by my initials and had no hair and was often mistakenly presumed to be a butch lesbian.  I'm married to a man who is not super gender conforming either.   

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