Suppose There Isn’t a Real Sex or Gender Binary

All things considered and I know these graphs have been crude illustrations,  perhaps rather than some sort of Venus/Mars gender binary the way those in Transgender Inc describe things. Perhaps an over lapping double bell curve better illustrates the realities of sex and gender.

One of the things we used to discuss was preponderance of traits and how no one was 100% male/masculine or 100% Female/feminine.  How mental and physical abilities and traits over lapped.

When people like me talk of gender as a construct we are referring to the idea that there is an actual hard defined gender binary and that ABC is male/masculine while XYZ is female/feminine.

6 Responses to “Suppose There Isn’t a Real Sex or Gender Binary”

  1. negpos Says:

    Now that looks like a possibility!

    Caroline.

  2. Charlotte Says:

    If you look at the data for all of the gender difference studies every one looks like this. The biggest gap is found for physical characteristics like height. For mental characteristics the peaks barely differ at all.

    • Suzan Says:

      Looking at it like this sort of makes calling it a “gender binary” look more and more like a social construct that aims at magnifying the differences.

      The only ones who really benefit are the patriarchy.

  3. Anna Says:

    So what would be the data on the horizontal axis that produced a graph like that for “gender”, since you haven’t labeled it? I cannot image any relevant result of a question or test that would.

    To my mind, the only true way to graphically represent gender would be a multiple factor, three dimensional scatter diagram, showing intensity of multiple attributes, not least subjects’ own assertion of their gender.

    Your latest graph shows a huge overlap, yet there are not many people who would say they are both men and women. And where on such a graph would genderqueer, neither male nor female, find a space?

    • Suzan Says:

      The graph is meant to illustrate that there is neither a sex nor gender binary. That male and female traits overlap. That the idea of a rigid binary is more of a non-western one than a modern western idea.

      We differentiate out a fetus that develops the same cells differently. Male and female have the same circulatory system, nerve system, bone etc. The line along the scrotum that so many seem to think is a sign they were given surgery as an infant to make them into males is present on all ordinary males and is where what are labia on females fuse.

      The idea of totally different interests too is more a social construct created and enforced. Ask any geek grrl about the sort of shit she took for being more interested in ‘puters than make-up…

      Of course the “gender queers” won’t be happy about the idea that gender factors largely overlapping. They want to be special and being special or being a rebel isn’t as easy as purchasing high heels, bondage pants and an emo hair style.

      The only thing I meant to illustrate is how reactionary all the babble about “gender binary” is.

  4. Anna Says:

    Suzan:
    > The graph is meant to illustrate that there is neither a sex
    > nor gender binary. That male and female traits overlap.

    But either there are traits, or even one trait, that can be graphed like that or it is fiction. Surely?

    > …That the
    > idea of a rigid binary is more of a non-western one than a
    > modern western idea.

    How does it address, as a graph, the geographic or ethnic origins of the idea? You’ve lost me. Where in the “non-west” are you suggesting this idea did originate? The middle-east in biblical times, perhaps?

    > We differentiate out a fetus that develops the same cells
    > differently.

    Well, if they have developed differently… But no two fetus start with exactly the same cells, not even “identical twins”, we now know. XX and XY fetus obviously start with different sets of cells, but clearly its not the X and Y that determine what becomes gender identity. If there are other genes that do – and it pretty much has to be genes and there are a good number of candidates, and one pretty much definite for a lot of T->Fs – then then the fetus isn’t starting off with the same cells.

    > Male and female have the same circulatory system,
    > nerve system, bone etc.

    As a fetus? Well, actually not entirely. By the time it has moved from embryo to fetus there is some differentiation in all those. But since its highly likely brain sex is determined before week 8 – before the fetal stage – and the brain influences other development, transsexuality may already been affecting those systems by then too.

    > …The line along the scrotum that so many
    > seem to think is a sign they were given surgery as an infant to
    > make them into males is present on all ordinary males and is
    > where what are labia on females fuse.

    Or don’t, in the case of hypospadias, most of which have no link to gender identity. But you graph doesn’t represent that either.

    > The idea of totally different interests too is more a social
    > construct created and enforced. Ask any geek grrl about the sort
    > of shit she took for being more interested in ‘puters than
    > make-up…

    Well, geek, amongst girls means interest in anything academic or sports. There wouldn’t be many girl geeks if interest in the nuts and bolts of computers were the criteria, and there’s hardly any girls in prosperous countries who don’t actually use computers now.

    Beauty products are for confidence, and competition. I guess geek girls sometimes have enough confidence from elsewhere, but I doubt many totally eschew beauty products in all circumstances unless they are totally penniless or depressed. Most males have testosterone for confidence, but many use beauty products too, now.

    So is that kinda what the indices of your graph are supposed to be showing, overlapping interests? I still don’t see how such a shape would come about.

    > Of course the “gender queers” won’t be happy about the idea that
    > gender factors largely overlapping. They want to be special and
    > being special or being a rebel isn’t as easy as purchasing high
    > heels, bondage pants and an emo hair style.

    Doesn’t sound much like the ones I’ve encountered. A post-op M->F who no longer identifies as female and takes no hormones, for example. Where would you plot their existence? They have political impact and cannot be ignored.

    > The only thing I meant to illustrate is how reactionary all the
    > babble about “gender binary” is.

    So, basically, its a political cartoon that doesn’t graph anything definable?

    Sorry, but, graphs are a prime presentational and interpretive tool for statistics, largely pioneered by a woman (the health and housing campaigner Florence Nightingale), and are vital in understanding real facts and campaigning for change. Making them meaningless isn’t progressive.


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