Sex vs. Gender

Subject: Sex vs. Gender
From: "Jenna C. Thomas" <csvjct -at- ADMIN -dot- AC -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1993 09:50:34 EDT

>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?

The way it was explained to me, "sex" refers to physical anatomy, and
"gender" refers to the non-anatomical differences that a culture usually
associates with a particular sex. So my sex is female, but if you make any
assumptions about me (except for assumptions about anatomy) based on that
fact, then you are thinking in terms of gender. Therefore, when we are
discussing sexism, we are discussing gender because we are not discussing
actual physical differences, we are discussing assumptions made about
people based on those differences.

And I think this is important for technical writers to discuss, at least in
terms of how our documentation may or may not make gender assumptions. If
our writing is sexist/racist/agist/whateverist, then we run the risk of
alienating readers. And alienated readers are unsatisfied customers.

>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.

And just because I'm a nooge who paid attention in high school Biology, I
feel compelled to point out the fact that if you are male, you are XY. I
am *female*, therefore *I* have two X chromosomes. :) But you are
correct. Sex and gender don't necessarily match. If someone assumes you
are a woman, then your gender (to them) is female. Your sex is still
male. So the way you are treated is not based on your *sex*, but on your
*gender* (a person's perception of your sex and any stereotypes they may
associated with that sex). So it is gender (perceptions/stereotypes) that
we are concerned with, not sex (anatomy).

Jenna C. Thomas
Augusta College Computer Services Internet: jthomas -at- admin -dot- ac -dot- edu
2500 Walton Way (706) 737-1484
Augusta, GA 30904-2200 GIST 337-1484

Previous by Author: Re: reference search
Next by Author: Re: Style Guide Elements?
Previous by Thread: Re: Reply to(squared) Recent sexism postings
Next by Thread: Northern California Tech. Pubs Competition

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads