[RESPONSE] Laci Green: HOW MANY FREAKIN GENDERS

VIDEO:

SCRIPT:

This entire debate depends on what your definition of gender is so, let’s start there.

I know you gave one from the APA which stated: Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.

APA 2012 gender definition.png

This does not treat gender as a singular, isolated enitity – it is not a thing in itself – it is not an identity. Instead, gender is a collection of ideas and views, guidelines as it were, regarding what the two sexes do and how we view them. According to this definition, gender is derived from sex. That would imply TWO genders. As it also says, a person can gender-conform or a person can gender non-conform, does not mean extra genders.

That, however, is the 2012 Practice Guidelines. This definition that I am about to give is from the 2015 APA Dictionary of Psychology which also features in your source:

Gender: (n) The condition of being male, female, or neuter. In a human context, the distinction between gender and SEX reflects the usage of these terms: Sex usually refers to the biological aspects of maleness or femaleness, whereas gender implies the psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being male or female (i.e., masculinity or femininity.)

Same again but, this time they have included neuter.

These definitions treat gender as an adjective rather than a noun, something is masculine, feminine or neuter instead of being male, female or nothing. Therefore, to state “My Gender is …” is actually inaccurate. Gender is masculinity or femininity and how much so (0 – 1) rather than a thing in itself.

This now leads us to the question of Nature vs Nurture – Sex/Gender Essentialism vs Social Constructivism/Gender Performativity. This, in my opinion, is where the issue lies: what is the source of gender?

Because we got people like Judith Butler who argues that gender is performative which, to some extents, I can agree with. Catherine MacKinnon would argue gender is more than anatomy it’s a power dynamic (she’s a Marxist, so of course it’s all about power/struggle). If we can ascertain the source of gender, any and all discussions about how it is expressed, interpreted, etc, become non-arguments. How can we understand the output of a system if we do not assess the input?

And, just with all other behaviours where we discuss Nature v Nurture, we will find the answer is “both”. But, I will entertain the discussion, for a moment.

Nature:

I mention the dimorphism stuff because a lot of people like to argue that gender and biology are wholly unrelated, which is a cop-out so they can push their ideology. Also, a lot of our perceptions of gender come from how we physically perceive men and women. We see men as stronger because they are.

Nurture:

  • Fathers sing more to daughters and engage in rough-and-tumble play with sons.
  • Mothers talk more (study; study) and are more restrictive of physical risk-taking with daughters (study) than with sons.
  • Western fathers and mothers are more elaborative in autobiographical storytelling with girls than boys (study).
  • Parents often encourage gender-stereotyped play behaviour and household chores and discourage gender-atypical behaviour (study), and both mothers and fathers are more likely to engage in rough and tumble play with boys than with girls (study; study; study).
  • Fathers of young children attend more to daughters’ submissive emotional facial expressions (study), convey gender stereotypes while discussing emotions with their children (study), and are more likely to express affection and respond to daughters’ pro-social behaviour (study).

What we can see is that gender is influenced both by biology and the environment. Imagine my shock!

But this leads us to another question:

“Are we to follow the route that gender is based in objective reality (aka, biology)?” … especially in the terms of how we currently treat it, which is as an identity.

The definition given by the APA seems to suggest in the affirmative so … if the answer is yes then, there are two genders plus those who fall into a fringe area where it has gone wrong. Maybe they suffer a mental health condition or some form of physical deformity. Harsh words but they have got to be said. These people receive treatment and help. Or, should do, not be made into some sort of new “fad”. People try it out to stand out … I want to be transgender, it’s the new black.

trans is the new black.png

If, however, the answer to the question is no then, what is the alternative?

Well, then gender is completely detached from biology (which is a cop-out argument used to defend all these extra, made-up genders).

And if it is completely detached from biology then it is a socio-linguistic construct. And, if it is a socio-linguistic construct, there is nothing to stop anyone from creating a wide plethora of new genders. Nothing, because you do not need backing from objective reality, you’ve transcended and are now operating in the realm of the subjective.

Essentially, if gender is a socio-linguistic construct then it is nothing more than word-play. And words can take any form a language permisses. And, if gender is not objective but is subjective, then gender is not what is real but, what is felt. I feel there is an extra gender therefore there is.

Gender, free from reality, can run amok in the subjective. It is nothing more than a figment of the imagination.

Which brings me to the classic argument used in this circumstance: “if you’re saying it’s a social construct and thus has no basis in reality, what about money as that is a social construct as well!?”

And as money is also a social construct it has therefore, no objective value. Currencies go up and down. Money can be dismissed, you can live without money. Look at Venezuelan money, it is all but non-existent. Valueless, just like all these “gender is a social construct” arguments. Us as a species requiring money to live is a very obscure and atypical behaviour.

But this is all teetering dangerously close to the Transgender realm and that is slightly outside the remit of this video. I can whinge to no ends about that another time.

So, gender has roots in biology and is influenced by those around us. As I said earlier, let us not treat it as a thing in itself “my gender is male/female” rather things can be gendered “doing activity A, B, or C is feminine, masculine or neither”.

This takes us to the stance that I agree with which is that gender is a spectrum but, not from man to woman but instead from masculinity to femininity (as was given in the two APA definitions). I would use the terms “men” and “women” to denote a status of maturity. Such that males start as boys and become men and females start as girls and become women. They can be gender non-conforming but that does not detract from their maturity.

It’s actually funny, it’s because we take so long to develop as an organism into adulthood (and become men and women) why there is so much extra time for this socialisation of gender to be able to take effect. I fleetingly discuss this extra time in other videos, if you feel like checking them out (shameless self-advertising: tick).

So, let’s visit some other points/arguments from the original video. I’ll only be covering the main concepts/arguments/things I find interesting.

There are the two premises given that I want to respond to:

Premises:

  1. In the first premise I agree with all the points about sex, biology and gender save the last one. How monkeys, tiger, etceteros have males and females but not men and women. The implication being they do not have gender. This is wrong. There are “sex differences” in behaviour in many species. Look at the mating strategies of gorillas and elephant seals, animals where the females voluntarily live in harems with the strongest males. The males fight and compete to have their harems and females will cry out for “their man” if a weaker male attempts to copulate with them. There are noted gender differences in behaviour in a vast number of species, most of these differences in behaviour are observed in mating strategies … obviously. There’s a book that explores this, gendered differences in behaviour, I’ve not yet read it mind but, I’ve heard it’s good, it’s called “Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom”. It’s linked in the URL for the script below {that link just there}. Although I would agree, despite the gender differences in behaviour in these species, I still would not refer to them as man or woman. I would refer to them as male and female. But that’s because I’m “one of those humans” who likes to see us as different from mere beasts.

  1. The definitions given associate these behaviours to physical sex without really stating that biological sex acts as a guide/motivator/starting force for these behaviours. That’s my first point for this premise. My second point for this premise pertains to your very accurate point about how the word gender is used to refer to a million things. You are right to highlight this because whenever gender is used to define anything that has its origins in biology then the end result is two genders (sex and sex roles). When gender is used to refer to anything that has its origins in socio-linguistic constructs then we find potentially infinite genders because gender is used to refer to anything we can imagine, hence the limitlessness of gender (gender expression, gender identity, gender language).

Later you question “how can there be two genders if…”

  1. Musuo of China where property follows a matrilineal path. How does this affect gender? Unless if power and wealth denotes gender (see Catherine MacKinnon)?

  1. Tchambuli (Chambri) Society of Papua New Guinea where gender roles are swapped (however, this did not change the relationships between men and women). It is worth noting that as they were exposed to Western cultures/people, their behaviours changed. If anything, this culture is simply “not patriarchal” rather than “without gender” or “gender roles reversed”. They are still men and women just their value system is different – see their marriage practices for evidence.

  1. Māhūis again, a sociolinguistic creation, persons who become “Māhū” embody the spirit of both men and women. It’s a cultural thing not based in biology. Do I consider this an extra gender? No.

  1. The Bugis, if I pronounced that correctly, do “recognise” five genders: makkunrai (Men), oroané (Women), bissu (everything combined into one), calabai (as they call it “false woman”, those born biologically male yet act like heterosexual women – they recognise they are not actually women!!!), and calalai (born female yet act like men). What we need to ask is “does our perceptions of what gender is match their understanding of their ‘so-called’ genders?” Not to go all SJW on you but, are you not applying a Western lens to your understanding of their culture? Example, Calabai are men who dress and act like women … does that mean they are not men? When Steven Crowder puts on a dress in one of his videos and acts like a woman, is he therefore a woman? Is that what it means to be a woman … or is that a reductionist view of gender?

Ultimately, gender is a set of behaviours, expectations, and social/cultural aspects of being male and female. The perceptions of gender (masculinity and femininity) do change across time and cultures but, that does not remove the concepts of masculinity and femininity. It is based in nature but is modulated by nurture and should be treated as guidelines, not a thing in itself. It operates on an axis of masculinity-femininity from zero to one.

I hope you “loved” and “absolutely ‘got-off’ to” this video. I mean, well, I’m in it so, you should do!

Toodle-pip!

 

 

 

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