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Difference Between Sex and Gender


Difference Between Sex and Gender:

The English term ‘‘gender’’ alludes to linguistic category of masculine and feminine. Gender is a ‘‘social construct’’ indicating the ways in which men and women are taught values and behaviors appropriate to gender roles and social expectations. Practicing sophrosune, for example, is self-control for men but discretion and even silence for women.

Gender is a term for the way in which societies organize sexual categories, sexual roles, sexual behavior, sexual identification, and so on. Gender is typically concerned with women’s history, the status, image, and role of women in various societies, cultural forms, etc.

Sex is biological: the divisions of individuals in a species into two distinct groups such that one from each group must come together and exchange genetic material to create the next generation. Sexual reproduction is an elegant and creative way of multiplying the genetic variation needed for evolution. It is no surprise, therefore, that with the exception of benighted creatures at the lowest rungs of the evolutionary ladder, sex makes the world go around. The sexes, therefore, are biological categories dividing most animals, humans included.

The definition of sex that creates biological categories of male and female, stands in a paradigmatic relationship with gender. That is, these concepts can replace one another and are, indeed, often confused. After all, do they not both refer to males and females, the masculine and feminine? If sex refers to the biological basis of this distinction, gender refers to the innumerable cultural traits that have grown up around the original biological reality, and which historically have varied from place to place, culture to culture, and epoch to epoch. Perhaps the main reason for developing the concept of gender was to create an analytical distance from biology, often mistakenly called ‘‘nature’’ (it is a mistake because culture is natural for human beings). The space between biological sex, on the one hand, and gender, on the other, has cut the idea of gender loose from the original dichotomy of male and female. The degree to which gender roles or gendered behavior are social constructs and the degree to which they reflect biological realities or predispositions remains highly controversial and the subject of ongoing debate and research.

To say that gender partakes of cultural constructs means that it operates within then symbolic realm. Religions are among our most potent definers of the symbolic order. They are also labelers and regulators of behavior. Accordingly, religious doctrines, religious texts and figures, play a large role in the explanation of gender and sex.

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