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Am I wrong? Sex and gender

(10 Posts)
YokoUhOh Fri 12-Jul-13 09:01:37

My understanding is that 'sex' is male/female/intersex and 'gender' is how one identifies (according to a set of masculine/feminine/both characteristics).

So why can't we just use the term 'sex' (as in 'I'm finding out the sex of the baby') rather than the incorrect term: 'gender'? Is it prissiness?

JessieMcJessie Fri 12-Jul-13 17:32:25

Agree with your anlysis. However, don't nurses just say" Do you want to know what it is?", and people ask "do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?".

Re prissiness, as a child I could not say " Middlesex" or "Sussex" without blushing.

YokoUhOh Fri 12-Jul-13 20:37:06

Agreed, there's no need to actually say 'sex' or 'gender', I just find it gratingly incorrect when people use 'gender' to mean 'sex' smile

My friend's brother used to say to her, 'haha, you were born in the Middle of Sex' when she was a kid (think she was born at Northwick Park hospital) blush

campion Fri 19-Jul-13 00:28:12

I think it's been imported from our cousins across the water.

They seem remarkably coy about sex and remarkably relaxed about guns hmm

somebloke123 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:50:59

I think "gender" might refer to external characteristics.

So you can change your gender by the appropriate surgery but you can't change your sex because your chromosomes remain the same.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 19-Jul-13 12:00:11

In social sciences, it's used to make the useful distinction between biological differences (sex) and socially constructed ones (gender). Of course the biological side of things is complicated by the existence of people with intersex physical characteristics, people who self-identify as transexual, and the issue of whether there is such a thing as the intrinsic biological sex of one's brain.

And then there's the whole issue of where one draws the lines. (Is liking pink innate? Yes, there have been some bonkers people who've claimed an evolutionary explanation of girls liking pink, conveniently forgetting that the Edwardians dressed little girls in blue and little boys in pink.) Is, for instance, the slight advantage girls have in reading ability in primary years the result of nature or nurture (on average - and of course the differences in the variability of reading ability between one girl and another, or between one boy and another, are far far greater than the difference between the means of the two populations)? It's hard to see how you could even discuss this sort of thing without having some sort of distinction between sex and gender.

vixsatis Fri 19-Jul-13 12:05:21

This really irritates me. I checked in for a flight this morning and it asked for my "gender" when I'm sure they meant "sex".

Lurcio is entirely correct about the difference between the two; and I'm sure the OP is correct that the shift in usage is down to prissiness.

YokoUhOh Fri 19-Jul-13 20:11:02

Lurcio - exactly, that's the distinction I was drawing: biological/social. It's a very useful distinction at that; so why do we fudge it? Because sex also means sexual intercourse.

chateauferret Sun 08-Sep-13 22:09:15

Whenever I get a form with a question on it asking "Sex?" I just write "Yes please.".

HorryIsUpduffed Sun 08-Sep-13 22:36:51

Sex is genetic; gender is social. You can change your gender but not your sex.

Gender tells you whether to go into the gents' or the ladies' toilets at work. Sex tells you whether you're more likely to get prostate or cervical cancer.

You find out the baby's sex at a scan or at birth. You might not find out their true gender for years thereafter.

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