More often than not, the concepts of sex and gender are used interchangeably. However, a deeper look into each concept will reveal that the two are quite distinct from each other, and using them interchangeably, to say the least, is wrong. This essay seeks to distinguish the two concepts and show how biology and socialization have contributed to the formation of sexual behavior and gender identity in the modern Western society.
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Distinction of Sex and Gender
Sex is basically about the observable features, while gender has to do with habits inculcated in a person. Further, sex refers to the state of being either female or male. Gender is all about being masculine or feminine. It is important to note that the concept of sex is universal but that of gender is not universal; different societies have different outlook to gender (Nordqvist 2011).
Let us further look into the following examples regarding the distinction. In regards to sex, vaginas are characteristic of females while penises are of males accordingly.
Females breastfeed their offspring but males do not breastfeed. In the class of mammals, females conceive and give birth but males cannot naturally conceive nor can they give birth. Males by nature have testicles while their female counterparts are endowed with ovaries (Nordqvist 2011).
As far as the gender is concerned, the following are some of the characteristics associated with it. Where household chores are at play, the females tend to do more of them than males do.
Professions like nursing are usually seen as those from the females’ field while professions like engineering are labeled as male professions, yet these professions are a mixture of both males and females (Nordqvist 2011). In such country as Saudi Arabia, males are allowed to drive cars while their female counterparts are prohibited to get involved in driving.
What is evident from the distinctions is that sex is a natural or biological characteristic while gender has to do with culture or the society. It is society that assigns roles and even imposes stereotypes on different sexes. Let us then see how biology and socialization have contributed to such a distinction.
Contributions of Biology and Socialization to the Formation of Sexual Behavior and Gender Identity in Modern Western Society.
In regards to sex, biology will look at the anatomy and refer one to either male or female. This identification will include one’s physical look, sexual reproductive organs, as well as deeper investigation of various features, such as sex chromosomes, inner reproductive systems, and sex hormones (Gender spectrum 2013). After examination of the above mentioned features, biology assigns sex, in particular, male, female or hermaphrodite.
From then on, the society instills gender to male or female species. Gender is taught through culture, religion, learning institutions, peers as well as the media. Gender is therefore, rightly classified as a social construct. Social constructs are closely monitored by the community and have different things assigned to them ranging from mode of dressing, toys, and clothes as well as walking styles.
Consequently, these issues become ingrained in the minds of different sexes to such an extent that at a tender age of around three years one is aware of the expectations and roles of their gender in the society (Gender Spectrum 2013).
In conclusion, therefore, it must be underlined that sex is natural and universal but gender is culturally based and inculcated by the society.
Gender spectrum. “Understanding Gender”. Web. <https://www.genderspectrum.org/>.
Nordqvist, Christian. What is the Difference Between Sex and Gender? Web. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232363.php>.