Culturally constructed aspects of being male or female.
Describe two reasons why it may be problematic to use the term “sex” to refer to the biological aspects of being male or female and “gender” to refer to the culturally constructed aspects of being male or female.
Sex and Gender
From a general point of view, we have all been brought up with a very black and white perception of sex and gender. By this, many have been taught that we should only belong to either one of the two sexes; male or female, and by that, we all belong to either of the two genders, man or woman. But with the modern advances, we begin to see people such as the transgender, gender non-conforming and the non-binary, it is clear that the types of sex and gender are far more complicated. This article seeks to break down the reasons why it is inconsiderate and problematic to use “sex” while referring to a person’s biological aspects of being either male or female and “gender” to refer to the traditionally constructed aspects of being male or female.
First, it is unknown the amount of difference between men and women is from biology and which amount is from socialization, life experiences, and cultural norms of the person. For instance, take the difference in physical belligerence rates. In most cases, boys and men are generally known to be of much more physical aggression than girls and women (Archer, 2004). The difference, however, comes about from several social and biological factors. For instance, the hormone testosterone brings about belligerence. Boys and men have more testosterone levels than women and girls do (Severson & Barclay, 2015). Boys and men, moreover, are socially wired to perform physical and risky activities to deal with their emotions. All of the aforementioned factors are likely to underwrite the difference in aggression between the sexes, making it harder to figure out the origin of any observed difference in sex.
Moreover, it is very much unclear to refer and contextualize the meanings of “biological” and “social” factors. For one, people mostly predicate hormones to biological factors as they connotate socialization to social factors. Nonetheless, having male-typed behaviors can increase testosterone in women. Similarly, having female-typed activities at different rates reduces testosterone in men. In that regard, some scholars have probed whether biological testosterone modifications between these two genders may reflect the result of socialization in gender (Van Anders, Stieger and Goldie, 2015). Therefore, differentiating between social and biological causes of differences is not quite a walk in the park.
In conclusion, the difference between men and women stem from several factors and that men and boys are socialized to direct outward their emotions in behavioral changes. Hormones too have long been understood to be a biological factor while it really depends on an individual’s type of activity. It is, therefore, evident that we still have a lot to learn about human biological emotions and their relation to the characteristics of their particular sex or gender.
Archer, J. (2004). Sex differences in aggression in real-world setting: A meta-analytic review. Review of General Psychology, 8, 291–322.
Bosson K. ,Vandello A. ,Buckner E.(2019). The psychology of sex and gender.
Severson, A., & Barclay, R. S. (2015). Testosterone levels by age. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/testosterone-levels-by-age#Overview1 on 10-July-2020.
van Anders, S. M., Steiger, J., & Goldey, K. L. (2015). Effects of gendered behavior on testosterone in women and men. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(45), 13805–13810.