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Sunday, 20 August 2017

What makes a man or a woman?

Genitals, obviously. When you’re born, the doctor looks at your genitals and says ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl.’ Suddenly the world has gone a bit crazy with this and decided to raise ‘gender-neutral’ kids, failing to realise significant differences between the genders.

If men and women weren’t different, there wouldn’t be two different genders. (And yes, there are only two for fuck’s sake). Differences between the genders are both biological and sociological, as we know. Some cultures view manhood and womanhood differently. Modern day Britain has become very liberal and moved past stagnant gender roles.

Let’s look at biological differences first. Men and women have different brains and different hormones. Men have higher levels of testosterone, making them more aggressive, dominant and have a higher sex drive. Women have higher levels of estrogen, and release more oxytocin during sex. In terms of evolutionary nature, a man is designed to provide and protect, whilst a woman is designed to care and nurture. This doesn’t mean that nowadays a woman can't do anything for herself, nor does this mean men are emotionally insensitive rocks. It just means that naturally men are inclined to take care of their family and provide, whilst women are inclined to be better at emotional support.

And what’s wrong with that? Why is it wrong to want a man to take care of you or a woman to be there to offer emotional support? Being nurturing is a great quality. This is why there are more women in nursing in childcare than men. In one of my favourite shows ‘Sex and the City’, the protagonists are discussing why firefighters are hot and Charlotte says ‘because all women secretly want to be rescued.’ I don’t think anyone can literally rescue you apart from you, but what’s wrong with walking down the street with a man’s arms around you? What’s wrong with wanting to feel protected? The first man in a woman’s life (unless he ran away) is her daddy. Dad is there to protect his little girl. When she gets older it becomes her boyfriend/husband. What is the issue there?
Sexual differences are also part of this. The male and female organs aesthetically show this. The male organ sticks out. It becomes noticeably erect. The female organ is inside of us, and to the outside eye it is not noticed when it becomes erect. Again, evolutionary speaking, the man’s job is to spread his sperm to create offspring. The woman’s job is to raise said offspring, making her more cautious about how many sexual partners she has. Alternatively, I read in Sapiens that originally women would be polygamous as well as men, in order to have offspring with different qualities. I’m no sexologist, and I’m not sure regarding sex how much of it we know is based on biological differences or what we’ve been socialised to think. Hence why I’m trying to look at both aspects.

In terms of brains, the male brain is better at focusing on specific tasks, whilst the female brain is better at multi-tasking. The male brain is highly specialised, and separates things like emotion, information and relationships into different compartments whereas the female brain bands them together. This could explain why women tend to ‘over-think’ more whilst men are more direct. If a man says he’s busy, it means he’s busy. A woman tries to read into this in order to find ‘hidden meanings’ that aren’t there. Whilst the male brain finds a memory, analyses it then moves on, the female brain is more likely to ruminate over this again and again. This also shows why men appear more ‘logical’ or ‘analytical’ whereas women are more ‘emotional’ or have better memories.

Hence when people complain that more men than women are doing STEM subjects, perhaps it is just because the male brain is more suited to those than women? Just like the female brain is more suited to social sciences and humanities? Again, I don’t see what is wrong with this. It doesn’t mean women can’t do STEM subjects, just that they’re less likely to because of wiring.

So far I’ve only discussed biological differences. Now for sociological differences. Nowadays society has made gender roles less rigid as I mentioned. Putting people into boxes and saying ‘men are all like this’ and ‘women are all like that’ is never helpful. Certain behaviours are more feminine and masculine of course, but some things aren’t. Trousers for example. Trousers are more practical to wear because they’re easier to walk or run in. Same with high heels; high heels are impractical because they’re bad for your back and harder to run or walk in. In isolation, these things are neither feminine or masculine. A skirt or a dress in isolation is not feminine or masculine. There are certain cultures where men wear skirts. In Scotland they wear kilts. If I see a man wearing a dress I think ‘ew’, but a hundred years from now it’ll probably be normal.

Make-up, in isolation, is not feminine or masculine. There are cultures where men wear make-up. Great kings and queens in Egypt wore make-up because it looked fashionable and was associated with royalty. Make-up, piercings, tattoos; these are all just things people do to enhance their appearance. Tattoos are not feminine or masculine; anyone can get them. There are doubtlessly societies that look down on tattoos for men and women and see them as ‘crass’, just as there are societies where people don’t drink alcohol (Islam) or use technology (Amish). Socio-cultural norms play a massive role in how gender is viewed, and what is viewed as ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable.’

Having a bag is viewed as more 'feminine', but a bag in isolation is not feminine or masculine. Having a bag is actually very practical. If a man was carrying a hand-bag he would be seen as ‘girly’, but if he has a lot of stuff to carry then what’s wrong with him having a bag? Just like girls that wear trackies and trainers are seen as ‘tomboys’, but if they’re walking a lot or it’s cold it makes more sense to dress like that.

Most activities that are seen as ‘male’ or ‘female’ aren’t, they’ve just been socially accepted as that. The colour pink used to be a masculine colour; now it’s a feminine colour. I love pink, but I also like blue and black. Social trends change all the time, so social constructions of how gender is perceived also changes.
To conclude this, I would like to state that yes, there are innate biological differences between men and women, involving chromosomes, hormones and male and female organs. But in terms of social expressions of gender, those typically are fluid and do change regarding how society perceives gender. It’s very tiresome that I have to say this, but you can either be a man or a woman. Anything else is attention-seeking retardation. Transgender is not a gender; you can only transition from male to female and vice versa. Gender cannot be purely social because if it was then trans people wouldn’t exist and gender dysphoria wouldn’t be a thing. I know there are going to be people thinking ‘sex is biological and gender is psychosocial’ but I’ve used the terms interchangeably because it’s easier and makes more sense to me. Gender is how you express your sex, if you like, but a woman who dresses in a masculine way is still a woman. I think people confuse ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ with gender being socially constructed. Social norms do change and what is perceived as feminine and masculine tends to change. But a man or a woman is still only ever a man or a woman. This is funny cos it's true :) 


  1. I agree except that we have evolved towards more gender roles, not away from them as sex differences in personality traits are larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with those of men.

    I still agree that people should be free to express their gender and I'm not saying anything about enforcing gender roles; Just that I think you're conceptually mistaken about them being "stagnant" or something of the "past".

    1. I mean stagnant as in men having to be 'tough' and not show emotion and women being more 'passive'. Like men have always been expected to not show much emotion; crying is viewed as 'unmanly' and that can be really harmful to men because crying is natural and healthy and men shouldn't be expected to hold in their feelings for the sake of 'manliness.' Likewise not all women are 'passive' and 'demure', plenty of women can be successful and resilient (without necessarily being 'bitchy' or 'domineering') so that's what I mean about modern society moving past stagnant gender roles.

    2. I think those are more stereotypes rather than actual gender roles etc. Also, when it comes to men crying because their parent died, most people see that as natural and healthy. If a man cries because you called him a "pussy", that's generally seen as not natural and unhealthy and generally should be seen that way. So again, I think you're talking more about stereotypes that aren't very accurate to real life. Likewise, most people to do see the difference between women being "successful and resilient" as opposed to "bitchy or domineering". I think you mean move past gender stereotypes rather than gender roles?

    3. Yeah stereotypes is a better way to put it

    4. I think the problem is that we used to have a healthy balance of what was suitable to cry over (like death) and what wasn't (like insults). It was about not being so emotionally weak which tends to help one better protect themselves; Not being cold. Today, however, we've gotten super sensitive and emotional so many people see what was balanced and imbalanced because they're looking at it from such an extreme point of view and then that perpetuates the stereotype we have here. Like anything in life, some men took it too far with the emotional stability, of course, but those men were seen as extreme in their day too.

    5. Well many people have lots of survival instincts, that's how we got here today (evolution). One of those traits was not being too sensitive to handle what life throws at us. I think it's not only fair but necessary to acknowledge when that balance is lost and people are actually being groomed to be emotionally weaker and less stable; It only hurts them.

      As you know, I believe the key is balance. As you said, it's healthy to release [appropriate] emotions but it's not healthy to self-indulge.

      Part of the reason why this is more "new" is because for a very long time, any person who was *that* sensitive would likely die because life would be too much for them. It's only recently with such advances in technology etc. that people can be more comfortable and face less dangers and hardships etc.

      Part of what makes us of higher intelligence is the fact that we *can think beyond our feelings* unlike most animals which are driven solely by their main survival desires. It's also seen as just "immature". Children don't have a hold on their emotions as they are still learning that process. When adults act like children do, it's not very healthy.

    6. Perhaps also a reason people have become more sensitive is we've become more compassionate over time. Early humans would kill each other over 'godlike sacrifices' and had to look after their 'own'; the instinct to kill is said to be as strong as the instinct to pro-create. Like if there was a zombie apocalypse I doubt people would hesitate to kill each other for food if need be. However, because we aren't living in those kinds of situations anymore (certainly not in the UK/USA) one could say humans are more compassionate and empathetic towards one another as opposed to 'emotionally weaker.' Sensitivity actually is a sign of emotional strength. (Naturally of course, narcissism/self indulgence is not).

    7. I think it's the opposite: We're more sensitive because we're less compassionate. People 50 years ago would say things that might be considered "less compassionate" but they're actions were more compassionate. Today people tend to be less selfless and less likely to put others before themselves, yet more likely to not want to verbally offend them with their choice of linguistics.

      Compared to when we were more barbaric and making human sacrifices though, of course we're more compassionate overall; The trend was going towards more compassionate until the "Me" Generation (for the USA).

      Just because we don't need to kill each other for survival doesn't mean we're more compassionate, especially if it only takes a little pushing from nature. For example, New York City had a famous black out when all of the electricity went out and many bad things happened - though bad things were already happening there, more people who wouldn't normally join in such activity, started to join in and use it as an excuse to "purge", so to speak. We're just more controlled now; not more compassionate.

      I wouldn't say "sensitivity" is a sign of emotional strength, but I would say "compassion" is.

  2. A) Sex is defined by chromosomes, not genitals
    B) The reason so many genders now exist is because many don't want to live with the societal expectations of a man or woman. Gender is a label defining the way people should act. The solution is removing gender from the picture. Treat all equally regardless of sex. Your chromosomes don't have to define how you live. If we stopped making a deal out of the differences, gender archetypes will fade away. People won't identify as boys or girls but as humans with XX or XY chromosomes.

    1. I agree that people should be treated with respect and politeness regardless of gender. However, what is wrong with accepting that there are biological evolutionary differences between men and women? Differences in how we act and behave are based on our chemical make-up and wiring, which in turn influence how we behave in a social context.

      For example; women being naturally programmed to be more nurturing and empathetic (broadly speaking; this isn't to say that all women are the same or that men cannot be empathetic) correlates with the maternal instinct of bearing children. In a social context, this can explain why more women than men choose careers that involve social work or caregiving, such as nursing, teaching, psychology, and the like:

      Compare this to the most male dominated professions:

      Now, it's easy to write this off as women being given ‘less opportunities’ than men to succeed in professions such as construction and computer programming (which are highly male-dominated). However, I think that does a disservice to the element of choice, but also assumes that women are passively incapable of thinking for ourselves. We choose what we want to do based on our skills and abilities and limitations.

      Perhaps women are simply less likely to work in ‘male dominated’ industries because they don’t want to. Men being more likely to work in construction and manual labour is due, in part, to their physical advantage. Men are naturally physically stronger and bigger than women, which makes them more suited to certain professions.

      Perhaps women and men are choosing certain professions based on internal gender differences. One may argue that women are ‘discouraged’ from pursuing STEM or manual industries and that men are ‘discouraged’ from pursuing more traditionally feminine professions. But again, that removes the element of choice, and also, where is the evidence that people are being ‘discouraged’? In most modern day first world countries, there is nothing stopping men and women from pursuing what they want regardless of gender (other factors may come into play, such as economic class or familial expectations). My experience of school was that girls and boys were given the same opportunities; there was more discrimination regarding arts vs sciences i.e. arts and humanities subjects seen as less ‘worthy’ than science-based subjects.

      (One could say that perhaps arts and humanities are classed as traditionally ‘feminine’ and science and maths are traditionally ‘masculine’ which may be partially responsible for why science subjects are viewed as more worthy. I would need to read more into that as it’s just an idea, but is worth considering, and does pose the question of why feminine based attributes and interests are looked down upon compared to masculine based attributes.)

      So with the element of choice, perhaps women and men are simply choosing jobs that they are naturally better at (to put it simply). This article explains that over several conducted studies, girls were more likely to play with ‘female’ toys and boys with ‘masculine’ toys. This isn’t a result of ‘societal expectations’ or ‘social pressures.’ It’s due to choice, and that choice comes from internal wiring.

      So, what is wrong with that? Men and women are supposed to be different, otherwise there would only be one gender rather than two. (Multiple genders do not suddenly 'exist' just because people want them to, just as gods don’t ‘exist’ just because people ‘feel’ that they do. People’s feelings and beliefs are subjective and don’t equate to facts.)

    2. Coming back to your original point, I agree that a person should be judged by the content of their character, not their gender/ethnicity/sexuality. But we can’t just ignore gender differences because some people ‘feel’ that is it ‘offensive’ or ‘unfair.’ We can’t just ‘remove’ gender from the picture because gender differences exist for a reason. Humans evolved to procreate, and that procreation relies on there being evolutionary differences between men and women that are socially expressed, rather than socially ‘constructed.’

      Transgender people experience gender dysphoria because their internal hormonal make-up and chromosomes (genotype) do not match their physical characteristics (phenotype). However, they are a tiny percentage of the human population, and prove that gender does have biological influences.

      (Obviously they still deserve the same basic respect and politeness that all humans should be given, but they’re not entitled to special privileges or special treatment due to their differences. There is a difference between being empathetic and helping to accommodate someone’s needs e.g. making hormone-replacement surgery free on the UK NHS (empathy) versus making all bathrooms gender-neutral just because a few people are trans (granting unnecessary special treatment). What makes more sense is to have both gender-neutral and gender-based bathrooms so that everyone’s needs are being met. I’m sure many women would feel uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with men – I certainly would. And it’s not the same as at home because those are your family members, not strangers.)

      A person’s genitals are the physical expression of their sex, so to say that one exists without the other is naïve and redundant. Chromosomes and hormones determine physical characteristics in the majority of the human population and always have done (transgender, intersex etc people are a tiny minority). To separate chromosomes from genitals is like saying that a process and end result have no correlation. A filmmaker must go through the process of creating and editing a piece of work in order to have the end product. One does not exist without the other. Likewise, chromosomes and hormones lead to physical sex characteristics, e.g. genitals, hair, body mass.

      I’m not a scientist, and I willingly accept that this is all based on my opinion, but my opinion on this matter comes from research and reading, not my ‘feelings.’ Again, I really don’t understand why it is so wrong to say that men and women are different. We are not poles apart; we all breathe and eat and mate, but we do have some differences, and those differences are what has helped the human race to progress and move forward over thousands of years.

      Also, I apologise for the length of this comment. Just wanted to make sure I covered everything. My blog is always evolving; this post was written in 2017, and my views and perspectives continue to shift and evolve as well.


I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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