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Sex and Gender

Updated on April 30, 2019

Gender is a term that has psychological and cultural connotations, if the proper terms for sex are male and female the corresponding terms for gender are masculine and feminine.”

1. What Is Gender?

The problem of gender as a term lies in many implications that it holds. That is, the term gender has different meanings according to the domain in which it is used.
Accordingly, Lyons(1968: 283) states that the term gender derives form an extremely general word meaning class or kind “ latin genus” . The reason why it has been used by many linguists to mean both male and female, and used by grammarians to mean masculine, feminine and neuter as the case in some classical Indo-European languages.

In this approach, we understand that the term gender is genrally distributed between linguists and grammarians. However, even whithin the domain of linguistics, one notices that the term sex may be used instead of gender to mean the same. Therefore, it is worth to draw the disitinction between these items.

2. Gender versus sex.

In sociolinguistics, etither “gender” or “sex” are used to include male and female. Trudgill (1974 :62) uses language and sex as a title to chapter 8 while Romain (1994:99) uses the title language and gender to chapter 4, and either term in both chapters mean male and female. However, there are slight differences in the deep sense of words.

According to Chambers (1995 : 104-5), the distinction between “sex” and “gender” essentially recognizes biological and sociocultural. In other words, sex is a biological given while gender is a social acquisition.

The risk of oversimplification arises because the two are tightly interwoven. Gender differences are partly based on sex differences.

The social role of mothering is traditionally assumed by women as a sequence of their biological functions of carrying and bearing children. Intensely, physcial labor is traditionally done by men because on average they are begger than women.

Relaying on Haralambos and Holbow (1991: 521) Stoler, the American psychoanalyst, makes a distinction between “sex” and “gender” he says,

“Gender is a term that has psychological and cultural connotations, if the proper terms for sex are male and female the corresponding terms for gender are masculine and feminine.

Romains (1994:101) also says that the distinction between sex and gender presuposes that we distinguish between innate and enviromental diffrences. That is to say, sex is innate while gender is enviromental.

From these different approaches, it is evident that the difference between sex and gender suggests the interplay of biology and sociology, and sometimes psychology. But for the sake of avoiding the oversimplification, sociolinguists either use gender or sex barely to mean one thing.


© 2019 ABDELMAJID YAQOUBY

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