2. Sex vs. gender


Sex = biological class based on reproductive potential.


"Class" means we describe a large group of people (in this case, billions) to whom certain biological traits apply. Humans are female, male and a small percentage of intersex. Female humans produce ova. Male humans produce sperm. A small percentage of both male and female humans are infertile; however, it is through the fertilization of ova by sperm that all human embryos come into being. As the continuation of any species is important to that species, sexual reproduction is important to humanity. As female humans grow fetuses inside our own bodies, sexual reproduction is very important to women.

These definitions are not phobic of or hateful towards anyone:



More details on female vs. male humans:




Gender: a socially constructed, oppressive hierarchy

Sperm producer = male. Ova producer = female. This is simple biological classification.

Male = masculine/dominant. Female = feminine/submissive. This is gender, as the word is used by feminist theorists.

Based on the (sexist) notion that sex determines personality and thus should determine social role and status, gender is a social tool to naturalize women's dependence on men, and thereby ensure men’s access to women's emotional, sexual, domestic and reproductive labor. It's about power, not individual expression. Oppression is always tied to resource extraction.


The differentiation between masculine and feminine is signaled through (time- and place-specific) names, pronouns, colors, toys, clothes, hairstyles, et cetera, but, more importantly, gender is the underlying encouragement or punishment of certain human personality traits, based on sex.



Female hormones (supposedly) make women "too emotional," so our gender analyses couldn't possibly be useful BTW. (Yes, that's sarcasm. Read up on Irritable Male Syndrome.)

Male hormones (supposedly) make men “naturally aggressive," which is meant to justify their social dominance, but testosterone is also used to frame male violence as not only excusable but inevitable. [A white supremacist culture, however, will treat any violence committed by men of color as inexcusable, as it is a threat to dominance along color lines.]

Of course, the role of testosterone in behavior is more complicated than mere cause-and-effect, and is mediated by social structures. Also, (shockingly!) we’ve yet to hear anyone in a prominent position of power offer up mass castration as a cure for what is arguably our greatest social ill, which is male violence.

Anyhoo. Because women are (supposedly) weak, overly emotional, submissive, incapable of figuring things out or building things, we (supposedly) must find men to 1) defend us (from other men, who are naturally aggressive - what a convenient protection racket) and 2) provide for our material needs.

Of course, women are quite capable of taking care of ourselves. Women of the lower economic classes have always worked, including in physically demanding jobs. And there is nothing in our "nature" to prevent women from organizing ourselves, and/or training with size-equalizing weaponry (not to mention simple crotch-punching). This is why we must be socialized into submissiveness and dependency from birth.

Because we must (supposedly) find men to defend and provide for us, we must advertise ourselves for male attention, and then build a bond through emotional, domestic and sexual service, and not break that bond by being uppity.

Because we (supposedly) must always maintain our value to men in order to be safe, we must always view ourselves through the "male gaze" instead of our own. And because we must remain appealing to men and because men are (supposedly) naturally aggressive we might well be raped and that will just be the way of the world.

Because female people already do the work of growing a fetus, birthing a baby, and breastfeeding an infant, we (supposedly) must also be responsible for all the other work associated with child rearing. (One might think it more sensible/fair to divvy labor.)

And of course, in the face of the enormous power to grow another human being inside ourselves, we are also supposed to swallow the ludicrous idea of penis envy, perhaps the most brazen reversal in all of patriarchy.

But because female people are (supposedly) *naturally* empathetic and other-oriented, we're supposed to take all this on the chin and just rescue everyone with our loooove. Because that is what we were born for.

[That is not what we were born for - it's what we are groomed for - if you haven't already, please read Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence, and Women’s Lives]

Only by invisiblizing the emotional, sexual, domestic and reproductive labor performed by women for men - by deeming it "our nature" - can men uphold their deluded self-image as "independent." In reality we have a world where women are kept dependent upon men and so must serve them; but we are sold a story in which women are delicate flowers whom men are kind enough to support, a falsehood sold to little girls as princess stories, showcased so intensely in the pink toy aisle, right next to all the miniaturized plasticized tools of household drudgery, the un-ironic juxtaposition of pampered royalty (how we will describe you) with servant class (how you will actually live).

(This kind of blatant reversal is a common tool of white supremacist patriarchy, and can also be seen when poor women of color, who, whether they cannot find work or else work long hours for low wages, live in poverty but are described as "welfare queens.")

If this isn't clear from the above, gender is not a binary of equals, it is a hierarchy. For millennia women were the legal property of men. Globally, women are still subject to female genital mutilation, child marriage, bride burning and sex trafficking. Luckier women are merely subject to lifelong discrimination in the family, school, and workplace; sexist medical care; constant street harassment; online misogyny; daily reminders that males are people and females are other; a persistent wage gap; legislative attacks on bodily autonomy; physical intimidation and physical violence - all of which tend to worsen along lines of race/ethnicity and economic class - and all of which is meant to keep us in our (supposed) place.

Next page: Imagining a world without gender.


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