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Is gender natural or cultural?

For a long time now I have always heard that gender is nothing more than a social construct. I was told that if we taught women to be aggressive and taught men to be more emotional we would have a society nearly the exact opposite of what we have now. But is this really the case? The genders are not the same, we have different reproductive organs, different muscle densities, different brain chemistry and even different brain structure. None of these can be social and all would affect behavior. Furthermore in the 3 social apes and most social monkeys there are clear gender roles so why not humans?


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    Jun 1 2013: Q: What is the difference between "SEX" and "GENDER"? A: Sex is biological and is manifested physiologically as either male or female. Gender is sociological and is manifested behaviorially as either masculine or feminine. When an application form asks about Gender the answer choices are either Feminine, or Masculine. The form is NOT inquiring about which sex organs and hormones you possess (if that is what they want to know they should ask "Sex?"). There are masculine females; feminine males; feminine females; and masculine males. According to the World Health Organization, in "What do we mean by "sex" and "gender"?. . . gender is the result of socially constructed ideas about the behavior, actions, and roles a particular sex performs. The beliefs, values and attitude taken up and exhibited by them is as per the agreeable norms of the society and the personal opinions of the person is not taken into the primary consideration of assignment of gender and imposition of gender roles as per the assigned gender. Intersections and crossing of the prescribed boundaries have no place in the arena of the social construct of the term "gender".--http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/index.html
    • Jun 4 2013: Then may I ask why has the same gender roles have appeared almost universally in human culture. While we do have several egalitarian communities the rest and fairly sure most are patriarchal and I know of none that are matriarchal. So surely there is some sort of basis or common factor all humans share to cause this tendency.
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        Jun 5 2013: Commonness, or rate of occurrence is a separate question. Today's Navajo Nation in the Southwest of the USA is matriarchal, as is the Mosuo Tribe in China. Some South Sea Islanders have matriarchal structures like the Trobrianders. You equate matriarchal with egalitarian? Why? Perhaps your question is not so much about gender as it is about power distribution.
        • Jun 5 2013: No I do not equate matriarchy to egalitarian, I also disagree that commonness is separate from this. If the majority of human cultures are patriarchal and those that are not (such as the Mosuo) split work among the genders in the same way as patriarchal cultures (women doing housework while men care for livestock) then does that not show that gender (behavior and roles each sex performs) is in fact biologically based?
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        Jun 5 2013: RE: "No I do not equate. . . " In your statement, QUOTE " While we do have several egalitarian communities the rest and fairly sure most are patriarchal . . . " You seem to imply a clear contrast between egalitarian and patriarchal. Was that not your intention? I do most of the housework since I am retired and my wife is a working full-time schoolteacher. Is that a gender, or a sex, issue? I think it is a rationality issue. If you are looking for data to support the conclusion that behavior roles are biologically based I can only offer the physical ability argument which says things like men can't breastfeed babies, or women can't do a full planche pushup. If a task requires what only one sex can perform then roles are biologically driven. But very few roles in life meet the physical ability requirement, so I think the answer is "No, gender is not biologically based".

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