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If gender is a social construct, how can we explain gender identity?

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preta

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,509
as much as assholes use "social construct" to mean lie, it only means things that society affects.
It is not bad for somethng to be socially constructed as we are social beings.
A shit ton of things are socially constructed. Clothes, comedy, what is beautifull and what is tasty.
Money is the ultimate social construct and good luck telling people it does not exist.
I'm trans. It's not a social construct and to say it is is to spit in our faces.
 

Murfield

Member
Oct 27, 2017
710
Even though gender is partially a social construct, it enforces certain behavior/stereotypes that not everyone can personally identify with. It should not be up to anyone but the individual to define their identity based on who they are.
 

samoyed

Member
Oct 26, 2017
9,974
There's a set of ideas, behaviors, and aesthetics we attribute to boys/men, and another set we attribute girls/women, this is what's commonly known as "gender". But these ideas aren't fixed, they change as society has changed.

I think you're confusing gender expression (the behaviors associated with a given gender) with biological sex (the equipment in your pants or what your DNA looks like).
 

affeinvasion

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,485
The problem is that in our society we tend to see things in terms of dichotomies, which hampers our ability to categorize extremely complex phenomena in any other way. It's not even really true to say that there are two sexes. Learned social behaviors and ideas do not mean they are made up and have no material basis. The nature/nurture dichotomy is just another false dichotomy that is often used to oversimplify the intricate effects that social upbringing, genetics, and environment constantly have on each other.
 

infinite

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Oct 25, 2017
3,479
I feel like the premise of this thread is predicated on a misunderstanding of what social constructs mean
 

Foffy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,235
Social constructs mean it's a product of mind, correct? Any form of identity is a product of mind. Anything you can objectify, at root, can never be you, but this gets us into the "contents versus the space they appear in" of awareness.

How the brain gets there is a topic that's very interesting. Though I am speaking on looser forms of gender expression and identity ala colors and dresses and that kinda thing; I'm not speaking of any brain state where the human feels like they're in the wrong body as that may be driven more by the brain and less of the mind, and by this I mean more on the functioning of the brain and less of the thoughts and stories we conceptualize.

I would love to learn more about the state of gender from the level of the brain. I know the mind and the self is an incredibly interesting paradox, but people in that space don't really talk about gender, though there are trans teachers.
 

Boiled Goose

Member
Nov 2, 2017
9,393
Social constructs mean it's a product of mind, correct? Any form of identity is a product of mind. Anything you can objectify, at root, can never be you, but this gets us into the "contents versus the space they appear in" of awareness.

How the brain gets there is a topic that's very interesting. Though I am speaking on looser forms of gender expression and identity ala colors and dresses and that kinda thing; I'm not speaking of any brain state where the human feels like they're in the wrong body as that may be driven more by the brain and less of the mind, and by this I mean more on the functioning of the brain and less of the thoughts and stories we conceptualize.

I would love to learn more about the state of gender from the level of the brain. I know the mind and the self is an incredibly interesting paradox, but people in that space don't really talk about gender, though there are trans teachers.
That's not quite what social construct means.
 

Kansoku

Member
Oct 25, 2017
939
One thing I find it hard to understand in the case of gender as an spectrum is that I haven't seen a clear definition of what the extremes are, especially considering gender expression as a separate thing. Let's say the spectrum goes from 0 to 100, 0~49 is what is generally considered a man and 51~100 a woman. What exactly are the traits at the extremes? What exactly is a man, as in, when we split it in half what traits make it in and which doesn't? What a 30 person looks like against a 0, for example? I myself find it very hard to relate to this because I can't see this spectrum. I guess I'm a cis man because I was born with a penis and don't really feel like anything is not aligned between my brain and body. The things I usually think of being male related are things generally considered gender expressions, and I don't really partake in most of them (don't like sports, cars, being aggressive, the color blue, etc.), but since they are expressions and not traits of the identity itself I really don't know where I would fit in that spectrum.
 

Orin_linwe

Member
Nov 26, 2017
704
Malmoe, Sweden.
To me, it's irrelevant whether or not you have an iron-clad case for your suffering or even discomfort.

There are loads of people who can't put into words why they feel bad in some way or another, but that pain isn't diminished or made un-real because they're fumbling around with words that doesn't quite map onto coherence and meaning.

People like Contrapoint has done a good job at showing how complex and, in some way, "up in the air" ideas of gender is, and how that complexity continues to mature - rather than dissipate - when you transition, because you carry with you all that you've been before you transitioned, and that will always inform the rest of your life (in the same way all of our experiences continue to inform and mutate the rest of our lives).

It feels sorta odd to ask this "Ben Shapiro-like" questions of "if gender is a social construct, how can children understand gender"/"What is your precise definition of gender?"

Where is the humanity?

Why are you holding transgender people to a standard that is fundamentally inhuman - which is, you have to know your essence, and be able to verbalize it perfectly for it to be valid - when the same level of standard is never applied to cis-people, or even people like me, who identify as male, wants to be male, but happen to be gay?

My inner life - and my identity - is in a constant flux, because I am growing older, and constantly experiencing new things. What I was when I was 20 is as alien to me as to be an other person.

I feel like there is an inhuman - and unfair - expectation for transgender/queer people to "explain themselves", that is fundamentally dishonest, because we never turn that mirror around, and ask the other to explain themselves, fully.

Also, you can break down any individual concern on an individual level (which is how you treat these things anyway). An AMAB (assigned male at birth) person doesn't have to have an "academically-sound" reason for feeling other, nor are their feelings less real because you - as an adult - can (I guess, accurately) decipher that gendered toys like guns and dolls are a social construct, and therefor not inherently gendered.

Ultimately, I think transgender people are having a bit of a moment, and some of their previously extremely insular culture is spilling over into the mainstream. I wasn't alive when the first cross-over between straight and gay discourse happened, but I assume it was also messy, tedious and repetitive.

That said, the issues that are relevant for people who are transgender, are not the same for people who are "not-straight". Each have their own history, and their very particular complexity. This also means that just being "non-straight" - like me - will not prepare you for handling transgender issues.

My long-winded point is that it is weird for supposed allies of LGBTQ+ to fall into the trap of assuming that transgender people have a ready-to-consume explanation for their existence.

I'm 36, and I don't have any coherent explanation for my existence. If anything, I have only more questions the older I get. I'm a failure by most metrics, and yet nobody has ever asked me to do a "facts don't care about your feelings" inventory of my life.

It feels odd to invalidate the very real feelings that children have and express - feelings that I had when I knew I was gay at the age of 9 - by way of trying to hold them to an academically rigorous standard.

Yes, children are very tedious, but if you're a functional adult, you can also catch when a child is being very genuine with you.

... This notion that we - adults, as I think we all are, on this forum - can't read subtext, can't understand what it's like to be a child, can't understand other people through our own suffering, can't give other people the benefit of the doubt, etc, is something that I'm frequently annoyed with, and makes me not want to post.
 
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samoyed

Member
Oct 26, 2017
9,974
As for how it came about, it's because the development of society necessitated some division of labor, and sometimes these divisions were sometimes assigned along sex lines. When a sex is associated with some kind of labor long enough (child rearing for mothers for example), then it becomes a social expectation that all mothers should be responsible for child rearing.

A set of expectations for a given sex is what gave birth to gender roles as we know them today.
 

samoyed

Member
Oct 26, 2017
9,974
The wiki explanation also works:
Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories.[1][2] However, Money's meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. Today, the distinction is followed in some contexts, especially the social sciences[5][6] and documents written by the World Health Organization (WHO).[3]

In other contexts, including some areas of the social sciences, gender includes sex or replaces it.[1][2] For instance, in non-human animal research, gender is commonly used to refer to the biological sex of the animals.[2] This change in the meaning of gender can be traced to the 1980s. In 1993, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to use gender instead of sex.[7] Later, in 2011, the FDA reversed its position and began using sex as the biological classification and gender as "a person's self representation as male or female, or how that person is responded to by social institutions based on the individual's gender presentation."[8]
 

anthro

Member
Oct 28, 2017
277
Gender is basically a concept of the real bifurcation in social roles associated with the sexes historically. It is very real, was very real, but what primarily constituted it was regulation of the sexes. Men headed households. Men held property. Men had to have wives. Men were expected to have families. These are gender roles that regulated the male sex. It is socially constructed because it is historically contingent. Nothing about these regulations or roles are located in the male physiology or brain, and nothing in the brains of women exclude them from these things. In fact, the very deterioration of the regulations associated with the sexes has subsumed the gender roles. Gay men are still considered men, yet they transgressed on the regulations of male sexuality as men. Being a gay man is not a gender, its considered a sexual preference, but they are still considered men. As a social process, the gender role of "male" has become bereft of much of its power.

These regulations on sexuality still maintain themselves as the battleground for much of the rights of men and women to express their preferences however they see fit. Consider that one of the huge culture wars was whether it was a transgression, a formal crime even, for transwomen to use the women's bathroom. These are the dying spasms of gender as a social process, which comes closer and closer to being functionally equivalent to your sex organs, for most people.
 

umop 3pisdn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,197
I think even without notable socialized gender roles it would still be necessary to view gender as a social construct, but that doesn't mean much, as many of our most powerful realities are socially constructed. We're a social animal, after all. But to the degree that it is a social construct, we as individuals can speak about how we individually experience our gender, and these accounts can be found satisfying, or be interrogated, etc, until our society forms a more nuanced narrative or account of what gender means, so there's both a deepening of the individual's experience of their gender, and a broader more 'common sense' social development, but both occur through the medium of social relations. I think, as another poster mentioned, the concept of identity itself necessarily stands in opposition to our conception of others. In a thought experiment, it seems that the only person that doesn't need ever raise the question of gender at all regarding their identity (or indeed identity itself) is the one never confronted with another person, and that's ultimately what social construction means. It can be considered both a wholly social construct and real at the same time.
 

Mewshuji

Member
Nov 11, 2017
3,567
My takeaway is: Just let people be what they want to be. Mind your business.

I say this because if we accept gender is a social construct, this calls those who feel strongly about their binary identity into question. If we say it isn't, this calls nonbinary identities into question. Neither is acceptable, clearly. Someone who finds empowerment or comfort in identifying as a man or woman should be allowed to. Someone who feels solely being a man or a woman does not fit them should be allowed to choose another identity.

I would like to say: The thing about social constructs is-- yes, they're technically not "scientifically real". But they very much impact our society as if they themselves were natural processes. Money is a social construct, but has our society in a chokehold- unless every last human on Earth decides to move to communism or barter overnight, money will always exist as if it is a natural resource itself. Race is a social construct- having a few similar phenotypes and ancestry to others does not mean you will act the same or be as smart or capable- but it nonetheless defines how many people are seen in society or even mistreated by society. Social customs like saying bless you, or shaking hands, or bowing, are social constructs, yet if you choose not to follow them, you are seen as rude even if not following them actively harms no one.

So even if gender is a social construct, it doesn't change the fact that trans people who feel strongly about their gender exist and should be respected. If it isn't, then it doesn't change the fact nonbinary people exist due to socially constructed genders like hijra or two-spirit that are definitively not just "woman" or "man" that can be found in many cultures, and thus there's no reason a modern Western culture or modern worldwide culture cannot have nonbinary people, or genderfluid people, or X-gender people, or any other number of genders besides "man" or "woman".

Again. Just let people be what they want to be. Mind your business.
 
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Etrian Oddity

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,429
My takeaway is: Just let people be what they want to be. Mind your business.

I say this because if we accept gender is a social construct, this calls those who feel strongly about their binary identity into question. If we say it isn't, this calls nonbinary identities into question. Neither is acceptable, clearly. Someone who finds empowerment or comfort in identifying as a man or woman should be allowed to. Someone who feels solely being a man or a woman does not fit them should be allowed to choose another identity.

I would like to say: The thing about social constructs is-- yes, they're technically not "scientifically real". But they very much impact our society as if they themselves were natural processes. Money is a social construct, but has our society in a chokehold- unless every last human on Earth decides to move to communism overnight, money will always exist as if it is a natural resource itself. Race is a social construct- having a few similar phenotypes and ancestry to others does not mean you will act the same or be as smart or capable- but it nonetheless defines how many people are seen in society or even mistreated by society. Social customs like saying bless you, or shaking hands, or bowing, are social constructs, yet if you choose not to follow them, you are seen as rude even if not following them actively harms no one.

So even if gender is a social construct, it doesn't change the fact that trans people who feel strongly about their gender exist and should be respected. If it isn't, then it doesn't change the fact nonbinary people exist due to socially constructed genders like hijra or two-spirit that are definitively not just "woman" or "man" that can be found in many cultures, and thus there's no reason a modern Western culture or modern worldwide culture cannot have nonbinary people, or genderfluid people, or X-gender people, or any other number of genders besides "man" or "woman".

Again. Just let people be what they want to be. Mind your business.
This. Just follow the fucking golden rule. Be nice to people. If they aren't hurting anyone, it's none of your fucking business.
 

Euler.L.

Alt account
Banned
Mar 29, 2019
906
It's important to realize that social constructionism is a theory within sociology and faces criticism based on how absolute the theory is applied. See the nature vs. nurture debate.
 

Flousn

Member
Jan 16, 2018
1,113
Gender is not just the "made up" thing some people like to paint it as, though.
While the science is still very early, there seem to be more and more studies that find differences in the brains between genders (that also have nothing to do with the old timey tradition of finding ways to scientifically prove that women have less capable brains as men btw) that seem to imply that gender identity is probably just as biological as your sex. The difference is now that sex is very much binary and directly visible while gender and the societal roles and implications that define it is not. So gender is in so far a societal construct as you might have a biologically "male" brain (gross over-simplification here!) but what "male" means and implies is 100% societal. That does not make the existence of a biological "gender identity" in itself less real.

And to be honest, that all should not matter anyway because how hard can it be to simply not be an asshole and respect other people. But that seems to be too much for a large portion of the population so here we are.

(English is not my native language so please correct me if I used wrong/offending vocabulary)
 
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Fudgepuppy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,720
I'm cis, and I see it as varying from person to person. All I know, is you be you, live and let live, and make others feel as accepted and loved as humanly possible (doesn't cover fascists and nazis, sorry for those of you who want an olive branch).
 

CloudWolf

Member
Oct 26, 2017
7,110
Gender identity and sex isn't the same thing. If you're born with a penis, you're biologically a male of the species, that doesn't mean that you necessarily identify as a man.
 
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travisbickle

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,849
Social constructs mean it's a product of mind, correct? Any form of identity is a product of mind. Anything you can objectify, at root, can never be you, but this gets us into the "contents versus the space they appear in" of awareness.

Social construct is the opposite, it's the theory that nearly all meaning is constructed through shared understanding. People would say gender is a social construct because it is viewed differently in different societies both present and historic.
 

TwoDelay

Member
Apr 6, 2018
858
It would still exist, we just wouldn't be oppressing people based on their identity. The only reason gender rigidity is valued and essentially 'required' by society is because the idea of gender rigidity and cisgender being preferable is socially constructed.

Societies have existed where gender fluidity (and sexual fluidity) were the norm, but it's not like gender ceased to exist there either.
Could you name some of those societies (this isn't an attack or anything. i'm just really curious on reading up more on this stuff)
 

Sulik2

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,003
It's both op. People are born with a certain amount of gender identity and society continues to shape that gender identity as we grow up.
 

FeistyBoots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,202
Southern California
I have been researching some stuff about trans people for a project, but I found myself really questioning everything when I got into this paradox.

I dont have any doubts that people can have different identities than the one that matches their assined sex, but how is that possible if gender is a social construct? Basically: if gender identity is about being born in another body, therefore not fitting in the gender assigned for your body according to your genitalia, how can we say gender is a social construct?

At the same time, it is kind of obvious gender is a social construct, but my point is that assuming one or another (gender identity and gender as a social construct) would essencially invalidate the other.

Basically, if gender identity is biological, how can we call gender a social construct? In the same way, how can it be a social construct if somebody is born in dissonance with his/her assigned gender.

I may be missing something so I would love if someone better known in these matters can help me on this, or even better our trans folks in the site.
Gender expression is partly a social construct.

Gender identity is not at all, in any way shape or form, a social construct. It is an inherent sense of one's gender.
 

FeistyBoots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,202
Southern California
But then, a kid cant be trans then? How can he/she knows what is gender and which one is his/her gender identity
I knew I was a girl when I was 4 years old.

Little kids who are cisgender know they're a boy or girl very early too. Yet people don't question their identity. They accept and affirm it. They don't tell those cis kids that they can't possibly know their gender.

The ignorance of trans folx' lived experience in this thread is depressing.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,507
User banned (2 weeks): transphobia
I'm trans. It's not a social construct and to say it is is to spit in our faces.
You can only call yourself trans because the social construct of trans exists. Don't worry, I've once had this exact response to a sociologist describing aspects of my self-identity to a T by talking about a group that have these aspects in common with each other. Sociologist don't deal in individuals, they deal in aggregates. A "group" is basically just a bunch of data that is both similar yet distinct as its own cluster versus other data clusters. It does not reflect on your individuality, though getting to understand that your concept of individuality is tied into the history of the language and culture that surrounds you might be difficult, since it's essentially an inside-out view.

I don't mind if you reject this, but any serious academic discussion will be about concepts, and not people. Identity is a concept, and everyone's understanding of said concept will be understood in their unique ways (yes, everyone is an individual), but we can only have a meaningful discussion about a concept if we all have an understanding of what that is.

To answer the OP: it's the difference between actualized and possible, as people move through the medium of language into both self-awareness AND the culture they happen to be born into. Your language(s) will teach you both concepts (the 'what' ) and HOW those concepts manifest within the cultural area in which said language is spoken. The self will actualize along lines that the culture allows for, including gender identity, but ultimately the social categories available to self-actualize into must be present beforehand, or be quickly constructed (a new word or meaning) and successfully diffused among others. It is possible for new constructs to emerge quickly, but the general 'selection grid' is bound by categories that have already been spread.

Please be aware that this is a social science model of explaining social reality and NOT a reflection of power relations and / or politics as they too exist in human realities. Stigma affects everyone, yet all stigmas are themselves social constructs. So: Actual status versus possible status.
 

FeistyBoots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,202
Southern California
I think the thread as a whole is handling it pretty well. People are asking questions and learning. Don't let one bad comment spoil it.
I'm a cis-male and lack perspective on this, but it's something I've wondered about as somebody on the outside looking in. I've wondered how many transgender persons there would be if it was socially acceptable and normal for a male to be feminine and vice-versa. Where your genitalia carried no expectations. Would there be fewer transitions?
It wouldn't change. Gender Dysphoria is a real, biological thing that exists. It would still exist. I would still feel wrong living as a male *regardless of how accepting to different gender expression as a male society would be*. That's because I'm inherently a woman. I'm as much a woman as a cis guy is a guy. Differing social norms wouldn't change the biological reality of trans people's inner sense of self.
 

Lord of Ostia

Member
Oct 27, 2017
15,769
Could you name some of those societies (this isn't an attack or anything. i'm just really curious on reading up more on this stuff)
Multiple Native American tribes had people of the identity now called 'two spirit' which encompasses gender fluidity. There are also accounts of trans individuals in Native American tribes. Plus lots of variety in sexual identity and sexual behavior among some tribes.
 

jph139

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,764
Massachusetts
My understanding is: there are certain biological "roles" that people are nudged toward. This is informed by a lot of things, like hormones and physique and so on. Animals that live in groups divide up roles on instinct, and often those roles are divided up based on sex.

Gender is a social construct that evolved out of those extremely primitive biological roles. Like, "males tend to have more testosterone" is a biological fact, which developed into "males are hunters" for human beings. But as developed sapience and societies we've drifted further and further away from biological relevancy in our day to day lives. We now have societal roles that at one point might have had seeds in biology but that are now entirely unmoored from sex. The fact that each society has developed those roles differently is why gender is a social construct, but the fundamentals of it - dividing groups into certain roles - are biological in nature.

Some people are born, for whatever reason, not feeling comfortable in their assigned "role." And since we have a super complex system that doesn't really have any practical value, it's totally fine to try and find whatever "role" fits you best.

I've always sort of wondered if animals can reject their assigned roles in that same way. Are there male lions that go out and hunt with the females? Are there female gorillas that want to become a silverback? I think nature would be a lot less understanding of those sort of things, but I wonder if it develops in that same way, or is something that only shows up due to the intricate gender systems humans have.
 

FeistyBoots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,202
Southern California
One thing I find it hard to understand in the case of gender as an spectrum is that I haven't seen a clear definition of what the extremes are, especially considering gender expression as a separate thing. Let's say the spectrum goes from 0 to 100, 0~49 is what is generally considered a man and 51~100 a woman. What exactly are the traits at the extremes? What exactly is a man, as in, when we split it in half what traits make it in and which doesn't? What a 30 person looks like against a 0, for example? I myself find it very hard to relate to this because I can't see this spectrum. I guess I'm a cis man because I was born with a penis and don't really feel like anything is not aligned between my brain and body. The things I usually think of being male related are things generally considered gender expressions, and I don't really partake in most of them (don't like sports, cars, being aggressive, the color blue, etc.), but since they are expressions and not traits of the identity itself I really don't know where I would fit in that spectrum.
It may help clarify things if you consider that the gender identity spectrum isn't a linear line from one end to the other.

It's a sphere. And one can be a point anywhere on that sphere. Meaning there are no 'extremes', because there are no terminal points to the spectrum. Does that make sense?
 

Horp

Member
Nov 16, 2017
1,741
It may help clarify things if you consider that the gender identity spectrum isn't a linear line from one end to the other.

It's a sphere. And one can be a point anywhere on that sphere. Meaning there are no 'extremes', because there are no terminal points to the spectrum. Does that make sense?
Thats a good analogy, I like that.
 

balgajo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
685
I don't think that gender is a social construct. When your observe the behavior of animals you will see how gender play different roles in different species. I don't see any reason why it should be different with human beings. That said, the problem is that our society forces men and women to have " gender" traits that were probably created due to a social construct. So right now it's difficult to answer what is imposed as a social construct or what is natural. First we have to create a society where men and women are treated the same and after that we can starting researching those different traits without bias.

For example. How can you infer that men have more aptitude to engineering if in the first years of life you estimulate men with puzzle like toys more than women?
 
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Oct 25, 2017
1,507
I've always sort of wondered if animals can reject their assigned roles in that same way. Are there male lions that go out and hunt with the females? Are there female gorillas that want to become a silverback? I think nature would be a lot less understanding of those sort of things, but I wonder if it develops in that same way, or is something that only shows up due to the intricate gender systems humans have.
Of course they can, if only because the human animal can. But existing power relations tend to force the averages that we tend to find, not because animals can't have more complex roles. It's like the evolutionary difference between chimps as a patriarchy and bonobo's as a matriarchy. They are closer related than we are to either species, yet somehow they wound up with very different power structures over time.
Of course, we don't know if chimps were 'forced backwards' by interacting with hominids (or for that matter why hominids seem to prefer patriarchies, even though that's a bit more complicated), whereas we can be reasonably certain that bonobo's have had very little interaction with hominids due to living in largely isolated, inaccessible areas.
Somewhat ironically, isolated human societies (and space, but also time!) seem to be flexible in which way they bend as well, as one island might have a matriarchy, the next a patriarchy, and the next something in the middle. But then Europeans came along and it all went to sh...

We do know that humans have a larger segment of non-cis percentages, but that could be explained away by the lack of extreme social pressures as they exist in the wild and lack of being preyed on by predators, meaning that being rejected by or even forcefully ejected from your pack won't lead to becoming lunch.

But yes, animals are gay as hell too. Fun facts to mention to religious people I guess?
 

enzo_gt

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,606
Identities do not need to be inherent or permanent. I think it's easy to get whipped up in the term "social construct" which sometimes leads to the conflation of sex and gender, which, as far as I understand, you are doing a bit in OP.

I hope thus far you've already come across one of the (if not the) landmark theories of identity in your research which is Social Identity Theory (and it's counterpart, social categorization theory), but if not: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html

Identities are socially constructed and negotiated - biology may be the basis for some of those identities, but to say gender identity is biological is making identity to be inherent, which it is not. At least, this is the psychological perspective on how identity work - there is little utility in observing differences or effects of sex alone because, in reality, they are quickly channelled through the lens of gender role differentiation (social process) which is much more useful for explaining how and why the world and identity work as they do.

The word "social construct" seems to have a negative connotation in some public discourse, but in psychological research anyways, that is not the case. Because something is constructed doesn't make it any less real or hand-waive it's existence/value/relevance. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaar from that, and anyone who knows what they're talking about would agree.
 

FeistyBoots

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,202
Southern California
Identities do not need to be inherent or permanent. I think it's easy to get whipped up in the term "social construct" which sometimes leads to the conflation of sex and gender, which, as far as I understand, you are doing a bit in OP.

I hope thus far you've already come across one of the (if not the) landmark theories of identity in your research which is Social Identity Theory (and it's counterpart, social categorization theory), but if not: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html

Identities are socially constructed and negotiated - biology may be the basis for some of those identities, but to say gender identity is biological is making identity to be inherent, which it is not. At least, this is the psychological perspective on how identity work - there is little utility in observing differences or effects of sex alone because, in reality, they are quickly channelled through the lens of gender role differentiation (social process) which is much more useful for explaining how and why the world and identity work as they do.

The word "social construct" seems to have a negative connotation in some public discourse, but in psychological research anyways, that is not the case. Because something is constructed doesn't make it any less real or hand-waive it's existence/value/relevance. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaar from that, and anyone who knows what they're talking about would agree.
Identity is inherent. Try listening to trans people - you know, the ones of us who know what we're talking about when it comes to the inherent sense of our identity.
 

Horp

Member
Nov 16, 2017
1,741
I learned to recognize spectrums that way in my research on my path to getting assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder 1 (which was confirmed and diagnosed in April) - it's far too binary to think a spectrum goes from 0-trans, for example.
Yeah it’s obvious when you put it like that. Spectrum is an unfortunate word.
 

anthro

Member
Oct 28, 2017
277
This isn’t meant to suggest that people should be actively identifying as “transracial”, it’s to point out why that doesn’t occur even though race is still a social role. The alternative would be to suggest race is biologically determined, but race is more of a caste system linked to ethnic features. The ethnic features in turn become linked to culture and behaviors, so that someone who is white that “acts black” could become the target of harassment, more in the past, and so that people who are technically not of the ethnic background usually associated with a particular race can be confused for it. Ethnicity and race are closely linked, but not equivalent. Gender and sex are closely linked, but not equivalent.

I don't think that gender is a social construct. When your observe the behavior of animals you will see how gender play different roles in different species. I don't see any reason why it should be different with human beings. That said, the problem is that our society forces men and women to have " gender" traits that were probably created due to a social construct.
Other species don’t adapt their ways of life as we do. At various times and places women have been housekeepers, included in the farming and hunting, they’ve been heads of families, they’ve been property, they’ve been priestesses and oracles who have special connections to the gods, they’ve been banned from stepping into temples, they’ve been banned from being warriors but also been decorated veterans and even granted a certain cultural status as capable of being great warriors (you could go back to folkloric deceptions like Mulan, or huntress goddesses like Artemis)

These aspects of having a sexed body have nothing innately to do with it. They arise out of the sexed body existing in certain conditions. Sexed bodies have definite differences, but really the most important one has always been role in reproduction. Gender roles have largely reflected regulation of the sexes to control reproduction. Meek, mostly illiterate/unread and unskilled women make for good servile, ignorant, and dependent wives. That is one aspect of gender, and of course it has largely crumbled in the modern day in which we socially require women to be literate, capable, skilled and knowledgeable.
 

Baji Boxer

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,926
I'd say some of our confusion on this line of thought is that a variety of things are classified into the same grouping, maybe even things that have different causes resulting in the same effect.

There's no paradox, it's just a classification problem. Scientifically, evidence points towards physical brain shape/structure differences for at least some transgender people, where the brain is just shaped closer to the gender that is not represented by their physical body.

Then there is also the societal construct of gender, such as things being classified as femenine or masculine behaviour. Some of this is "artificial" in that it's a cultural assignment of acceptable behaviour, but there can also be a physical component (such as hormone levels) that can affect behaviour. For example, a cis woman may have a higher ammount of naturally occuring testosterone, which may influence her towards certain typically male behaviour.

You also have gender fluid people and people who may not classify as any gender.

It's all a complex web of various biological, psychological, and cultural spectrums shoved into a binary classification system. It's highly unlikely any of us will ever understand 100% the full underlying reasons for every state of being when it comes to gender identity.
 

Baji Boxer

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,926
It may help clarify things if you consider that the gender identity spectrum isn't a linear line from one end to the other.

It's a sphere. And one can be a point anywhere on that sphere. Meaning there are no 'extremes', because there are no terminal points to the spectrum. Does that make sense?
That's a good way to put it. Actually works for a whole variety of subjects.
 

Nepenthe

I'm just gonna take 5, or 10...or 20.
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Oct 25, 2017
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This thread is locked while we comb through reports.

Update: This thread is still awaiting input from some key staff but will remain closed.
 
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