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Gender and gender: how not to get confused in terms
Gender and gender: how not to get confused in terms

The shape of the genitals is determined by nature, and the duties of "real" women and men are determined by society.

Gender and gender: how not to get confused in terms
Gender and gender: how not to get confused in terms

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What is gender

It is a collection of biological characteristics that help distinguish a male from a female. Not all of them are visible to the naked eye. For the most accurate identification, it is better to use a combination of factors:

  • a set of chromosomes - XY in men and XX in women;
  • gonads - testes in men, ovaries in women;
  • internal genital organs - prostate and seminal vesicles in men, vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes in women;
  • external genitals - penis and scrotum in men, clitoris and labia in women;
  • sex hormones - androgens prevail in men and estrogens in women;
  • secondary sexual characteristics - the type of hair growth, the development of the mammary glands, the distribution of the fat layer, and so on.

By themselves, these signs still do not guarantee anything, since, for example, a person with female genitals may have a male set of chromosomes.

The biological sex is formed in several stages:

  1. In the sperm that fertilized the egg, there is either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. In combination with the maternal X chromosome, it promises the appearance of a girl in the first case and a boy in the second.
  2. Each embryo has a pair of sex glands that can develop into testes or ovaries. Previously, it was believed that female gonads are formed by default, with the active participation of the Y chromosome - male. But now scientists are studying a special gene, DSS, which is responsible for the formation of ovaries capable of producing full-fledged eggs. Failure at this stage leads to the fact that the gonads do not develop in accordance with the chromosome set.
  3. The intrauterine hormonal background of the fetus determines the shape of the internal and external genitals. The delicate balance here can easily be disturbed, for example, if a pregnant woman takes certain hormonal drugs.
  4. In adolescence, hormones are again taken up, which complete the process of forming the biological sex. Obvious secondary sexual characteristics appear. Girls will have menstruation, boys will ejaculate.

Accordingly, the biological sex is determined by nature, but the path of its formation is difficult and thorny. And a set of traits in a person whom you define as a representative of one sex may correspond to another sex. And in the case of true hermaphroditism, people develop a full set of signs inherent in both sexes.

What is gender

It is a social concept that refers to the characteristics and behaviors that culture attributes to the sexes. The simplest illustration is a set of qualities that comes to mind when the phrase "a real man should" or "a real woman should". To be convincing, this is usually presented under the sauce of the biological nature of the gender role. But researchers refute this.

The process of gender socialization begins even before birth.

Often parents enthusiastically tell about the baby that he still cannot sit, but is drawn to the typewriter, because he is "a real man." But the child does not grow up in a social vacuum, and this affects his behavior.

The sex of the fetus can be found out during an ultrasound scan. And from that moment on, parents begin to form expectations aimed at the baby. Appropriate clothes and toys are bought. Boys and girls of all ages are encouraged in different ways: for example, the first are given sports equipment and cars, the second - soft toys and dresses. Boys are more likely to be punished physically.

Gender stereotypes can be introduced even if parents generally do not support them.

The formation of gender attitudes does not necessarily occur through prohibitions, but rather the way of thinking is important. For example, the encouragement “don't quit sports, girls can play basketball too” indicates the existence of generally accepted rules under which this is impossible.

Research shows that in recent years, parents have begun to be more flexible about gender stereotypes. Yet the pursuit of equality in some areas does not offset traditional views in others. Conservatism is more often characteristic of fathers, and they take a more assertive position in relation to their sons.

Gender role

Social expectations in relation to a person's gender are called gender roles. In many cultures, there are rather rigid ideas about what is allowed to be done by men or women, and what is not allowed. The social nature of these attitudes is indicated by the fact that prohibited actions are physically possible, simply condemned by society. In addition, the biological sex is not always decisive in determining the gender role.

The virgins of oath in Albania abandoned the traditional female role, wore male clothing, performed male duties, and received a voice in the management of the community. Among the Indians in North America, both men and women could change gender, they were called berdash.

Expectations for members of the same sex can differ even within the same culture.

For example, women-aristocrats had to faint from someone's heavy gaze, while their less noble "colleagues" were forced to carry heavy loads.

Gender identity

The gender of a person most often coincides with the biological sex. However, gender identity - self-determination of oneself as a man or a woman - is not given from birth. A person may feel uncomfortable within the gender status assigned to him (including because of the rigid expectations of society).

It is difficult to name the number of gender identification options. Facebook now offers users in the UK to choose from 71 items.

How to use these terms correctly

Despite the obvious differences, both terms - gender and gender - are still used extremely inaccurately, turning into synonyms. For example, parties common in the West, at which future parents find out the gender of the baby, are called gender reveal party. Although, of course, we are talking about the shape of the genitals that the doctor saw on an ultrasound scan, and not at all about the compliance of the infant's behavior with sociocultural requirements.

It is important to remember that given different biological backgrounds, men and women in large groups do not differ that much in terms of personality, cognitive ability, and leadership.

And individual differences, for example, between two men, can be much stronger than between a particular woman and a man. Therefore, it is time to stop distributing responsibilities according to the shape of the genitals and start demanding from everyone according to their abilities.