My holidays have started! Yes indeedy. I have a month off from scurrying around trying to save lives and instead I shall be spending it lusciously lazing and reading books. Also hitting the gym, but that doesn’t fit in much with the idea of lusciously lazing so we’re going to ignore that. I have already wasted 5 days of my holidays without making a post on my sorely-neglected blog (aww) and so I will remedy that right now 😀
I had intended in these holidays to pick up a completely unrelated subject for fun and in the course of my pre-exam musings had finally selected Sociology as the subject of choice. Accordingly I went out and bought the A level book on sociology which I thought would be enough to give a me an amateur background.
HOWEVER, I went to my uni library couple of days back and did a bit of searching for books on atheism (none), feminism (several) and philosophy (even more) and finally came home with a book on feminism that sort of gives an introduction to women’s studies and feminism in general. So I have found that since then, sociology has taken a back seat and this subject (which is closer to my heart), has taken the front seat and seems to be driving too, and the first stop it took was my blog. So here I am.
Since I am reading all this stuff and since it is a topic close to my heart (as aforementioned), and hence probably will surface in upcoming posts, I am going to talk a bit about a concept here that is very very basic and yet very very often disregarded or overlooked. Sort of as a foundation for later ideas.
The difference between biological sex and gender is one that needs be insisted because it is the foundation for many injustices and miconceptions that arise about men and women. Basically the difference lies in their definitions.
Sex can be defined as a set of biological, genetic and physical characteristics. It is a fact, as well as a term used by biologists and social scientists. Sex can be divided strictly on the basis of genetics into male and female, but loosely three sexes exist, the intersex state being hermaphrodites.
Gender, on the other hand, refers to a complex set of characteristics and behaviours prescribed for a particular sex by society and learned through interaction with it. These are simply ingrained things stuck into your head by your surroundings and have very little to do with any actual difference between men and women. It’s a social construct and varies from place to place.
So for example, the idea that ‘boys don’t cry’ or that women are better at nurturing are ideas that are based on gender, not sex. Similarly typical qualities that are Masculine or Feminine (such as strength/frailty, logical/emotional) are based almost entirely on gender and not sex.
Gender Identity, then, very simply, is what gender you identify with. In contrast to sex, which is a discrete variable (you either are it, or you aren’t), gender identity is a spectrum, albeit most people fall on either end. But this is important to remember because not everyone has a clear gender identity, and nor should this be expected. It is also not related to one’s biological sex (an obvious example being transgenders). I for example, fall somewhere between the middle and the extreme green end.
Anyway this idea, and the difference between the two, was just something I wanted to discuss. I might continue with the base I’ve built here in later posts, or I might not, but for now chew on what I’ve mentioned above, and see if you can notice examples of gender characterisations around you 😛
See you for now. 🙂