Re: `Gender' vs. `sex'

Subject: Re: `Gender' vs. `sex'
From: "Chet W. Cady" <cady -at- OCLC -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1993 09:08:45 -0400

> Your remarks about gender vs. sex reminds me of a portion of the supreme court
> hearings re: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's nomination. When she did her landmark work
> on gender-based discrimination, she originally kept talking about "sex". One
> of her female colleagues suggested she use "gender" instead since she was
> addressing an all-male panel for whom the repeated use of the word "sex" may
> create too many mental distractions regardless of the fine-line differences
> in meaning......cstefanick

Ginsburg's female colleague is correct. As a male myelf, I can attest
that--SIMPLY BY BEING MALE--I am too stupid to understand the difference between
the two words `gender' and `sex'. And even though I am a writer and have
studied a number of inflected languages, I NEVER EVER found it distracting that
politicos use a grammatical term for a biological distinction.

Yes, in fact the distinction is so opaque to me that I often found myself
confused in my language courses, referring to the "sex" of a particular
word or object instead of its gender. I was always saying things like,
"The sex of the book is female," and, "This table is male." Of course, it
embarrassed my instructors when I talked about conjugation because
they were never sure =what= I was talking about. In fact, I wasn't
sure either because, as is well known, men do not have very good verbal

I am so glad that there are people like Ginsburg's colleague who look
after us dumb men. I would say that I =like= this kind of patronizing
attitude, but I have the gnawing fear that =patronize= may be the
wrong sex to refer to a woman of female gender.

cady -at- oclc -dot- org

PS to fellow-men, who of course are also linguistically challenged:
this is satire (or sarcasm, if you don't think it's high-minded enough to
be called satire). Don't try to refute it because it's really not the
type of writing to be refuted. People who write satire seldom have a
real point; they just write to entertain themselves. CWC

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