On Sex and Gender: Comparison and Contrast

Long since who knows when–way, way back when gender and sex became a hot topic of debates, people always regard the difference between the role of the male and female necessary for social productivity. People often confuse gender from sex so they interchange them in terms of usage. Sometimes people also thought that they are the same things, just has different gravity. And people often confuse the word “sex” for another meaning. But that’s a different story of course. It is important to know the difference between sex and gender because scientific inquiry in terms of the human anatomy which covers sex greatly differs from social constructivism which covers gender.

Sex refers more of a biological nature of a person. It is what you’re born with. We were either born as male, female or gender neutral also known as intersex and asexual. Classification of a male is by having a complete male reproductive organ, of a female by having a complete female reproductive organ, intersex by having vague or ambiguous reproductive organs and asexual by having neither a female nor a male reproductive organ.

Depending on how an intersex or an asexual child is raised, either male or female, it is fairly difficult to raise him or her because of the expectations and judgment of the society which will either make or break the child during the development process. In cases where they have to choose between male or female categories, it is difficult because there is no such thing as an option for Asexual and intersex. For example, choosing where to enter in public comfort rooms or answering an application form (ticking box categories are only for male or female) or opting for an exclusive school seemed impossible. As such, the intersex have the freedom to choose their own, whichever sex they want to belong to or just being neutral but such cases can lead to gender confusion in childhood or even in adulthood. That is where the defining of gender comes in.

According to an online source1, “gender is a construct specifying the socially and culturally prescribed roles that men and women are to follow.” It has no biological basis; it is by social norms and is in the realm of influence. Gender is stereotypical in nature. For example, in Males, they should masculine which includes being aggressive, tough, brave, logical, independent, and all other male dominant traits and professions, and liking things that are masculine in societal norms i.e. cars, blue, contact sports, etc. Females however, should be feminine which includes being sweet, soft-spoken, emotional, beautiful, submissive, and all other female dominant traits and professions, and liking things that are as feminine in society’s standards i.e. pink, Barbie dolls, kitchen sets, etc. Gauging one’s self into the sphere of the opposite extremes makes one a gender traitor of some kind.

In the past—or even today, the laws of the society and the acceptable norm are only favorable to male and female. All things are differentiated to only two sexes. Where do the in-betweens stand? Which side of the scale? Well of course as law states, sexes decide, not the orientation. So then marginalized identities in this case are the transgender, gay and lesbians all of which famously goes by the term Queers, intersex and asexual. However, so long as the intersex and asexual chooses their side, they are not going towards the center of the scale. Society doesn’t even have the right to dictate or to put pressure on what they want for the intersex and asexual because they were born different. Well actually the best way to stop being marginalized—in my opinion is to make a law that protects them and adopt certain methods like having their own choice in ticking the “sex options” box (the third being gender neutral along side with male and female) in all application forms, having their own comfort room and clothing line, etc.

According to the sex-gender-desire matrix, a “real man” in terms of sex (biology) is male by birth, in terms of gender (culture) is masculine and in terms of desire (sexual orientation) is heterosexual—meaning he desires the opposite sex than pursuing the same-sex. Anything beyond the realm of these things are marginalized. In the other hand, a “real woman” in terms of sex is female by birth, in terms of gender is feminine and in terms of desire is also heterosexual.

For instance, the society expects more on men. They are oppressed in a way that they HAVE to live by standards set by the society for men. Being given the active role, they have to be the dominant person in the public sphere and has to be the bread-winner of the household. If they can’t live by the standards, they are towards the center of the scale. In which case, they are considered marginalized along with the men who consciously chose to be feminine.

Gays and lesbians don’t have the rights to marry the same-sex in some countries; it’s newly implemented in others. Not all countries accepts the same-sex intercourse and relationships. That’s a fact yet universally unbroken. This makes the LGBT group very much marginalized because extremists still attacks their vulnerability. They do not follow the norms of their own sex, and thus leaving them on the vulnerable point in the scale.

Women who dreams to be doing active roles are marginalized because they are doing what the society does not expect of them. This is practiced before, during the time before and during the feminist era.


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