The definition of gender has been unequivocally considered to refer to the “male-or-female” paradigm since the 15th century; however, in recent decades, feminist theory has brought into question how related the term is to one’s biological sex. The word itself comes from the Latin genus, a word used to discern the difference between a classification of different entities. To “gender” something was to classify it according to a kind; therefore, the word is directly linked to the social environment of its user. Initially, the English populace used the word “sex” to discuss male and female biology. “Sex” is typically taken with the Latin seco, which literally means “division or ‘half’ of the race,” (source). Eventually, as the word grew to encompass the definition off sexual intercourse, many English speakers gravitated away from the usage of the word “sex” to refer to biological differences between men and women, and began using the term “gender” synonymously. This, as we have seen lately, was clearly a mistake.
Since the 1960s, many feminists have stood on the conviction that sex and gender are not directly related, and that while the former is indicative of one’s “natural” or “biological” attributes, the latter is instead the mere imposition of social norms onto the former. This has led to a monumental clash between ideologies with the radical feminist group claiming that gender is historically divorced from sex as a culturally imposed set of norms and the traditionalists maintaining that the terms “sex” and “gender” should be understood as synonyms.
Gender, in radical feminist theory, is exclusively the product of social factors and is no way related to biology. Gender, therefore, can be loosely defined (in this worldview) as a masculine-feminine continuum, with both masculinity and femininity having no grounding in biology but rather existing as socially imposed stereotypes upon sexes. This has led to a belief in “non-binary” genders, which are expressions of personality that do not align with either masculinity or femininity, or if they do, broadly encompass both.
In the mind of a traditionalist, however, gender is wholly or partially determined by innate factors and biological algorithms. An anti-feminist, such as myself, would claim that simply because gender is related to social norms imposed by one’s environment, it does not necessarily follow that gender is wholly a social construct. It is possible that gender norms are simply a society’s way of acknowledging biological diversity and labeling the general inclinations of each gender towards particular ways of thinking, expression, and/or personality.
The position of the traditionalist can be supported by a recent study on male and female monkeys in 2008 by psychologists from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, GA. When presented with wheeled toys (e.g. toy cars, trucks, etc.) and plush dolls (e.g. Raggedy Ann, Winnie the Pooh, etc.), male monkeys gravitated towards the wheeled toys whereas female monkeys played with both kinds. This study presents significant issues to those, including radical feminists, who insist that gender norms are entirely disconnected from one’s biological sex.
Watch the video below, courtesy of BBC:
(Clearly, monkeys are being oppressed by the Patriarchy, right? Right?)
Mountains of medical, psychological, and biological literature have recently piled onto the issue of associating sex and gender. As of 2015, a considerable amount off evidence suggested that gender identity is “hard wired into the brain” and is inseparable to the hormonal makeup of one’s biological sex. Scientifically speaking, therefore, gender is a biological phenomenon rather than a conscious choice.
The significance of the ongoing discussion regarding sex and gender identity is crucial in the field of medicine and psychology, because an accurate understanding of transgenderism and transsexuality must be adopted before holistic treatment can begin. If one misdiagnoses a transgendered individual as experiencing nothing more than a sort of “waking up” from gender stereotypes imposed by social norms, when in fact transgenderism is the product of a dysphoric psychological illness, then the prescription could actually detract from the subject’s quality of life.
So, despite what emotional college students, postmodernists, and radical feminists may insist, gender does not lie on a socially-imposed continuum; rather, it is engrained in our very DNA.
But, for those who stayed until the end of the column, I present to you a phenomenon that is on a spectrum; that is, mental retardation.
Men, be the manliest man you can be. It is a part of who you are and an integral part of your biology. Without you, we would be deprived of military combatants, trash servicemen, and suicide victims (all which are comprised an extraordinarily high amount of men). Women, be the womanliest woman you can be, because without you, there would be no schoolteachers, nurses, or administrative assistants (likewise). Be that which you are and own up to it. The future of our society depends on it.