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'What is your gender' when they mean 'What is your sex'

(35 Posts)
WhereYouLeftIt Mon 22-May-17 21:17:28

All those interminable forms we have to fill in. Or surveys. Or feedback. And then the data at the end so that they can analyse who responds to them etc. etc. Age. Ethnicity. Gender. Etc., etc.

So this one asked 'What is your gender?', two boxes, Male and Female. I'm in a bad mood anyway, so in the 'Any other comments?' box I asked that they reword the question to 'What is your sex?'.

No wonder people conflate the two words all the time. The words are constantly presented to people as synonyms.
<goes away and sulks in the corner>

Fairybella Mon 22-May-17 21:21:55

Totally agree it pisses me off

Uiscebeatha85 Mon 22-May-17 21:23:36

Yep annoying as fuck. Not as annoying as the million and one 'guess my baby's gender' threads in the pregnancy board though 😩

newtlover Mon 22-May-17 21:23:38

you are quite right of course, but 'sex' is a ruuuuuuuuuude word, so best avoided grin

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 22-May-17 21:25:05

Surely it's only rude because it's avoided? It's so bloody Victorian of us.

NoLoveofMine Mon 22-May-17 21:25:31

I agree. I even find myself writing "gender" sometimes when I know I mean "sex" because so often people say or forms ask "gender" as you say. No wonder so many people I know seem to accept being labelled or even label themselves "cis".

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 22-May-17 21:27:24

Thank goodness i don't frequent the pregnancy board then Uiscebeatha85, I'd be screaming. I am a bit of a pedant at the best of times. Plus, how can you guess the baby's sex anyway? Are we meant to be telepathic?

NoLoveofMine Mon 22-May-17 21:30:58

If pregnancy cravings are for pink cupcakes covered in sparkles it's a girl. If there's a craving for McCoy's and using barbed wire for a toothbrush it's a boy.

BillyButtfuck Mon 22-May-17 21:33:20

It gives me the rage too. We had a private scan when I was pregnant and all the paper work came through as Gender Scan, find out the gender and plan your gender reveal hmm

I also have to agree with pps though - it's not hard to see why people do get it wrong from time to time, when so many 'official' forms and documents get it wrong all the time,

MrsKCastle Mon 22-May-17 21:40:59

This bugs me as well. I filled in the NHS form for my DDs (5 and 8) to have their flu vaccination and crossed out 'gender' and wrote 'sex' instead.

Although I also think that society should stop putting the question on every damn form. So often it's just not necessary to know what sex someone is.

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 22-May-17 21:53:06

Well done MrsK grin!

TBH I don't really mind sex being recorded for anything medical. It might not seem important or necessary at the time, but in later years, it could be important - e.g. if a they were to datamine a mass of such information, they might find that complications/side-effects were more likely for one sex rather than the other. It's quite an interesting field of science.

CeeBeeBee Mon 22-May-17 22:01:50

I once crossed out the word gender and replaced it with sex.

Datun Mon 22-May-17 22:57:57

I've crossed it out and written sex, too.

Let's start a rebellion.

sonlypuppyfat Mon 22-May-17 23:02:12

Don't wish to sound thick, but what's the difference

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Mon 22-May-17 23:09:00

Sex is biology - XX vs XY chromosomes, vaginas vs penises.

Gender has at least 4 different meanings, as far as I can tell.

1) The way it's always been used in social sciences and feminist theory, to mean the set of roles, behaviours, dress-codes etc. that any given society deems appropriate for the two sexes. So, for instance, Medieval England - weaving is a man's job, twentieth century Navajo tribes - weaving is a woman's job. England - skirts are what women wear. Scotland - kilts are very manly. Edwardian England - pink is a nice strong colour suitable for your boy-child's nursery. Modern day England - pink is a lovely feminine colour for your little girl.

2) As a euphemism for "sex" among people who are too coy to say sex because, y'know, that might make people think of naughty bumping uglies type sex...

3) As a technical term in linguistics - some languages have a distinction between masculine and feminine (and in some cases neuter) nouns.

4) More recently, to mean an internal sense of "gender identity" - which some trans people claim to have, and many people who are not trans do not experience. I tend to think of this by analogy with religious belief - some people believe very strongly in the existence of an immortal soul, others do not. I've never seen anyone succeed in giving an account of gender identity which, when pushed, did not ultimately boil down to sex stereotypes.

whoputthecatout Mon 22-May-17 23:09:31

Sex is biological. Gender is a social construct .

sonlypuppyfat Mon 22-May-17 23:12:53

confused ok then

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Mon 22-May-17 23:17:20

I guess the interesting question is why it matter, sonly. For me, it's because I've largely experienced gender in sense (1) as something that is done to me - school teachers telling me I couldn't do woodwork because I was a girl, my equal pay claim limping slowly through the arbitration and courts system. I've never experienced it in sense (4) as a natural affinity for pink sparkly shit. Yet suddenly I'm being told by transactivists that sense (4) is the important one, and (1) (including my equal pay claim) doesn't matter. Apparently in this brave new world, internal identity trumps biology. Which would be fucking nice, if I could identify my way out of being paid 10% less. Unfortunately I can't, so it's the courts for me and my female colleagues under good old fashioned sex equality legislation.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 22-May-17 23:30:28

a natural affinity for pink sparkly shit

You don't have to like pink, sparkly stuff. That does not mean pink, sparkly stuff is "shit".

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Mon 22-May-17 23:36:22

Sorry, Lass, you're right, that was badly expressed. A more nuanced version would be the cartoon I saw of two panels of a small girl being offered a range of toys. The first had a speech bubble saying "do you want the pink, the blue, the green...?" with a caption saying "this is not the problem". The second had a speech bubble saying "do you want the pink, the puce, the magenta..." with the caption "This is the problem."

You're right that we shouldn't be devaluing those things traditionally associated with women. I think though that we should be worried when being a woman is reduced to "being interested in those things, and only those things, traditionally labelled as feminine."

I still think the Early Learning Centre's pink globe was a bloody shocker though.

Datun Tue 23-May-17 09:58:36


The whole issue of gender has become needlessly complicated.

Simply put, sex refers to the biological state of being either a male or a female, man woman, boy or girl. Everyone knows what it means, it's not complicated. We've managed to make babies, for millennia, based on knowing the difference.

Gender is the concept of masculinity or femininity. It's about behaviour, looks, and stereotypical roles.

But it's not about sex. For instance, a woman can be masculine. And a man can be feminine. Being masculine or feminine is not determined by your sex.

The problem arises because of the way femininity has been used in relation to women.

The typical feminine gender role says that women are nurturing, kind, passive. They were considered too feeble to vote, etc. They are objectified, because it's all about being hyper sexy and emphasising a woman's role as a sexual object.

In terms of feminism, the stereotypical female role has been used to make women second-best. Women should do all the childcare, young girls are married off to old men, female genital mutilation - because women's sexuality is policed by men, etc.

Woman's place in society is reinforced by the notion that their gender is what makes them unable to do everything a man can do.

There is no intrinsic reason why the set of different genitals between men and women should make women take such a role.

There are obviously physical differences between men and women and hormonal differences. But these cannot be used to justify an innate sense of what your role should be. And they cannot be used to justify the way women are treated globally.

For every feminine characteristic you could name, I can find you umpteen women who don't have it. So it can't be something that is innate to a specific sex.

Gender roles have changed across history. So again, it disputes the innate, inborn aspect.

The trans-ideology says that because I feel feminine, it means I must be a woman.

Thereby reinforcing that there is a correct way to be a woman, and it is 'feminine'. A gender role that is harmful to women.

Women are exploited because of their biological sex. And gender roles are used to reinforce this.

Thelilywhite Tue 23-May-17 11:31:20

re forms- I object to gender instead of sex too but it seems really ubiquitous now. Increasingly I find there isn't even anywhere I can comment if I'm doing a form on line.

Thelilywhite Tue 23-May-17 11:41:04

Great post. I want to copy it and keep it !

NoLoveofMine Tue 23-May-17 12:12:04

I agree Thelilywhite I'd like to copy that for reference as well, another perfectly put post from Datun!

Datun Tue 23-May-17 12:12:50



It's nowhere near complicated as people think. But transactivists will try and make mincemeat of that argument.

As feminists initially pointed out all the illogical and unscientific basis to the ideology, the goalposts got moved.

The mission to prove that pink brains and blue brains exist knows no bounds.

From an 'hormonal wash' in the room, to a different hypothalamus.

For every study supporting one side, you will get another disputing it.

You can disappear down the most gargantuan rabbit hole of all time if you get involved in a discussion.

For me, one of the most compelling arguments is that every time I talk to a transactivist, they come across as massively male.

And of course, in real life, people are treated differently on the basis of their biology, not their brain. Otherwise female oppression wouldn't exist.

Even if a study was found that did prove that certain men have a certain 'feminisation' going on in the brain, it still wouldn't mean that we can just hand the childbirth, breastfeeding, and wife work over to them on that basis.

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