Re: gender vs. sex

Subject: Re: gender vs. sex
From: Shannon Ford <shannon -at- UNIFACE -dot- NL>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1993 12:34:57 +0100

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> Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1993 11:10:37 +0100
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> ----- Transcript of session follows -----

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> Steve Fouts writes:

> > Did I get left out of a major usage change in the last couple of years?
> > Just exactly when did the terms GENDER and SEX become synonymous? I get
> > questionaires now that ask me what my gender is. I have to think, "well,
> > most times I am referred to as he or him, which is masculine, sometimes
> > as a part of a they or them, which is neuter, and rarely as it, also
> > neuter. Very rarely as a feminine now that I stopped wearing my hair (as)
> > long." Hmmm, I'd say masculine, mostly. Sometimes a little neuter.
> >
> > My SEX is male. I have two X chromosones. My sex and my gender don't
> > even have to match. Today, I'm feeling rather butch.
> >
> > Is this some kind of Victorian backlash thing? Are we going to start
> > referring to legs as limbs again? Is SEX a dirty word now so we have to
> > resort to the more ambiguous gender? Am I the only one bothered by this?
> >
Sex isn't a dirty word, but often is used to mean the ACT instead of whether
you are male or female, so perhaps we are being *less* ambiguous using gender.
Anyway, my dictionary lists the definition `sex:male or female' before the
grammatical meaning (Webster's 1959 2nd edition). Since we aren't discussing
grammar, readers (probably) do not misinterpret what we mean by gender.

In addition, I think that what is being discussed has much more to do with
masculine and feminine role definitions than what it means to have 2 X
chromosomes, which is further argument for using the word gender.

(IMHO, as the standard disclaimer goes)

Shannon Ford
fords -at- uniface -dot- nl

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