sex, not gender

To: <>
Subject: sex, not gender
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 23:13:08 +1100
I suspect this has run its course and it has become rather tedious. To tell
the truth, surely it hardly matters but seeing as Stephen posted the message
I will send my reply. I see no sense or logic at all in a distinction behind
the words in brackets that "Bulls are male (not masculine) and cows are
female (not feminine)". They exhibit in their behaviour and attributes the
same characteristics of masculinity and femininity, as adapted appropriate
to their species, as do humans and any other species. The phrase about
something "as useless as tits on a bull" is used in the broader sense of
gender and what is best for masculine and feminine roles or indeed any
inappropriate addition (like a propeller on a bus), than just physical sex.
One could argue the case with male sea horses as they show the feminine
habit of giving birth to their young. Thus they are not male in their
behaviour, but neither are they female (because they produce sperm, not
eggs) but they are I believe undeniably feminine in that attribute, as they
have the mother role. It seems absurd to me to suggest people have more in
common with ships and cars and cyclones and words in grammar that like
people are assigned a gender, than they have to life forms that according to
this argument, do not have a gender. I suspect the view being put against
mine is built upon the concept that gender applies uniquely to humans,
within living things and also to inanimate objects. In biology we need to
get away from the idea that humans are a separate system from other life. We
are not. Otherwise it is applying a Christian value or term or just European
cultural, to science. Which he objects to. This seems completely wrong to
me. I don't actually think Stephen thinks that. As far as the ideas of the
sexism in human society, there is no shortage of other mammal species that
run a similar system of males taking a domineering role over females. 

Hi Stephen,

An interesting idea and sounds mostly credible. A discussion point, though I
don't think there is an answer, it is just a word use thing and words do
have a range of uses. I agree with your end point. I believe the patriarchal
Christians would have invented these ideas as their way of interpreting
nature. Although the reason for doing so was to exploit fundamental
biological features to maintain a sexist system.  They did not appreciate
that humans have the same basic biology as other species, through common
descent. Thus set up a silly system whereby there is a dividing line: humans
- everything else, that really doesn't exist in nature. Thankfully hopefully
we have a more advanced and liberal view. So I think it reasonable to extend
the idea of masculine and feminine features to nature. It is these features
that denote gender. So I can't imagine any reason why gender should apply to
people, tropical cyclones, all French and Latin nouns and boats, but not to
goshawks, gorillas or corn. But as in the examples I have others have used,
the concept as gender when it contradicts sex is really rather silly. 


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Stephen
Sent: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 8:25 PM
To: 'Merrilyn Serong'; 
Subject: sex, not gender

Below is an email that I sent privately to Philip late this afternoon.  In
light of Merrilyn's latest contribution to the discussion, I thought it was
appropriate to share it on Birding-aus. It supports the argument that
Merrilyn has put forward.



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