Is gender a social construct?

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Huh! This is an interesting turn. For all the push for transgender rights and giving children hormone replacement therapy here in Canada, the federal government is now looking to ban conversion therapy and make it a criminal offence for both adults and children.

From the article:

Conversion “therapy,” as it has been called, seeks to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, and has been opposed by numerous health and human rights groups and can take various forms, including counselling and behavioural modification.

In Bill C-4 the government also notes specifically more examples that broaden the reach of the bill to include practices experienced by the trans, two-spirit, and non-binary communities such as seeking to change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth, and repressing a person’s gender expression or non-cis gender identity. Repressing someone’s non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour is also noted.

I think the whole bill is pretty horrifying. You could get jail time for insisting your son not wear a dress.
 

Nathancat7

Jedi Master
Yeah it's really horrifying the "gender is only a social construct" fascism, and as far as its a lie, for sure.
I haven't read the article nor all the posts, but I'm sure that people are covering this.
I probably shouldn't talk about my dreams too much but I've noticed that wishful thinking even in dreams affects my sense of reality and it's all about reality.
So for me and some of my dreams I found that I have too much of a identification with the flesh, and that impedes my ability to see what is real and what isn't.
That's obnoxious at best.
There is a mind though, however weak my connection, that gives me clues.
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
My view is that this is a non-controvercial subject that is often misinterpreted. Wildly so.

Humans evolved with "trending" constellations of reproductive biology that are more likely to appear in an individual's genetics based on millions of years of adaptation.

Then the "hard biology" passes through a filter of perception, then again through an interpretive, mental filter. Lots of genetic variation is lost at the level of perception and interpretation. It makes sense to me that we would also evolve to see the "trending" reproductive fitness over genetic variations that appear less often (remembering that they appear less often, not not never, in our "hard biology," according to situational selection over time, so on and so on).

So the answer is yes, gender is a construct. As sure as an octopus is a woman or a crab a man, gender is a socio-historical category that isnt consistent with understandings of gender across the globe, let alone throughout the history of culture.

Through the specific lens of our culture, we turn to face our "hard biology" and see a body. We ascribe a name and personality and different realities to that body according to our perceptions and interpretations of ourselves and the world. We don't, in fact, see what's there.

First, we each vary slightly in what we see when we look at ourselves because the genetics that guide our perception are as unique as our biology is.

Second, our perception and interpretation socially condition us to observe ourselves and each other in a realm beyond the physical.

In my view, I stands to reason that there isn't a man, nor a woman, but an infinite variety of men, an infinite variety of women, and whatever else. And I believe this constitutes a kind of flowering of the mind.

Post-structuralist theory is an invitation to do consciously what we do unconsciously - merge our perceptions and interpretations with our relational capacities as social beings to diversify our lived experiences and experiment with what is possible.

You don't have to throw out biology or evolution to view gender this way. Men and women, as concepts, are as absurdly ascribed to us as to fish. And it's not more or less absurd than if you had1, 10 or 1000 genders. It's the same basic mechanic of the mind and body. It's part of acknowledging ourselves as social creatures.
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
Could you humor me on this bit pls?
So there's a rising awareness of a third gender in some indigenous cultures called "Two-spirit," for example, that seems to be rooted in traditional knowledge that goes back a millennium at least. Across indigenous cultures of North America today, the way this third gender is interpreted probably differs. What I mean is a Two-spirit Anishinabe person's gender is likely viewed differently by a community than a Two-spirit person in a Coast Salish community. So that's a third gender and two variations of cultural interpretation, today. If you stretch out the comparison across time, though, you would see that the interpretations will vary over time just like they vary over space. Gender, itself, is subject to time/space variation, just as specific genders are.
 

Sybill

Jedi
Oh, I see... Very spiritual. I wonder if these people have special abilities, like teleportation, because banal practicabilities, such as filling up a passport application could be a challenge for them.
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
Oh, I see... Very spiritual. I wonder if these people have special abilities, like teleportation, because banal practicabilities, such as filling up a passport application could be a challenge for them.
Are you... Making fun? I'd say, though, yeah. Passports are a good example of how people's genders can be invalidated by the state.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Lots of genetic variation is lost at the level of perception and interpretation.

siftingmaterials, I think you could benefit from reading the thread on Darwin and Intelligent Design. Maybe throw in the Romantic Reading project as well. Identifying one another as men or women is an inbuilt facet of our design, and movements away from this are a result of entropy, not some indicator of arbitrariness or dogma on the part of creation. There is space for trans people to exist and be included in the world, just like not every perfectly serviceable gummy bear comes out of the gelatin press with all four arms, but that's qualitatively different from taking the imperfect form and taking it as some refutation of the idea existing in the world of perfect forms (to use a Platonic analogy). Because doing the latter attacks the very foundation of everything, including the existence of trans people postmodernists and nihilists try so hard to validate.
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
siftingmaterials, I think you could benefit from reading the thread on Darwin and Intelligent Design. Maybe throw in the Romantic Reading project as well. Identifying one another as men or women is an inbuilt facet of our design, and movements away from this are a result of entropy, not some indicator of arbitrariness or dogma on the part of creation. There is space for trans people to exist and be included in the world, just like not every perfectly serviceable gummy bear comes out of the gelatin press with all four arms, but that's qualitatively different from taking the imperfect form and taking it as some refutation of the idea existing in the world of perfect forms (to use a Platonic analogy). Because doing the latter attacks the very foundation of everything, including the existence of trans people postmodernists and nihilists try so hard to validate.
I'm going to take this idea of perfect and imperfect forms and put it aside for a minute. What I'll focus on for now is the idea that we evolved to identify each other as men and women. If you re-read what I wrote you'll notice I actually uplift this idea - in some major ways, I agree. I'd say it this way:

- sexual reproductive biology has constellated in our bodies to maximize itself.
- gene selection furthered from sexual reproduction has favoured those who can identify those constellations of reproductive biology.

But what id add is that we evolved away from sensing all kinds of things. Some things our species perhaps had a greater sense of in the deep past is now only vaguely sensed.

Conversely, we struggle with accidentally sensing and identifying threats that would have been substantially more common 50 thousand years ago. Some of those senses go haywire in city environments and result in behaviour that causes problems.

But I would ask you to question this aspect of your view: the difference between perception and interpretation.

Evolution has afforded us with certain perceptive tools, senses, so on. Interpretation is wildly culturally oriented, susceptible to radical shifts from moment to moment, even. Interpretation is a socially guided, inter-subjective process that interprets data from perceptive faculties.

I'm saying that our definitions for men and women, in the sense that those are meaningful to all of us, come from interpretation, not perception.

That isn't to say that we don't perceive the differences in the way evolution has tended to organize our reproductive biology via gene selection - we do. But we have to interpret that in order to bring meaning to it.

When I say that gender is a social construct, that's what I mean.
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
We can sense the way reproductive biology constellates itself in other species, for example. Think of horses or dogs and cats, whatever, kids learn to identify the reproductive biology in other animals fairly early on in life and I'd say that this lends itself to the idea that we are especially attuned to notice the biology for sexual reproduction. As opposed to, say, any of the limitless things an animal could evolve to notice.

So we can sense these things in other animals, but it doesn't occur to us to ascribe genders to camels or octopuses or squirrels or snakes. To do so would be a category error. We need to be able to say that some birds are going to lay eggs, for example, but we aren't going to call those birds women with any level of seriousness. "Chicken" and "woman" are not synonymous. They're in different discriptive categories entirely.
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi siftingmaterials, what is your big picture from your micro managing this issue? My big picture is that this is being used to divide the population, and like you are doing, have them run around in circles with endless arguments that lead nowhere. It is also a way to separate out, the 10% or so, of the population, that has a certain moral compass to know what is right and wrong. Those being the only ones that they fear.

 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm going to take this idea of perfect and imperfect forms and put it aside for a minute. What I'll focus on for now is the idea that we evolved to identify each other as men and women.
Since this was the crux of my point I'm going to ask you to come back to it. We didn't "evolve" to identify eachother as men or women; that's how we were designed, and such a design enables us to see one another as our designers see us and intended for us. Adding gender as a concept without understanding that life (and therefore gender) is a product of design rapidly turns it into a term of abuse, as there's no basis in which interpretations can be properly grounded with respect to the true nature of things.

But what id add is that we evolved away from sensing all kinds of things.
Please read the Darwin thread.

We need to be able to say that some birds are going to lay eggs, for example, but we aren't going to call those birds women with any level of seriousness.
That's because we call them hens. 😉
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
Hi siftingmaterials, what is your big picture from your micro managing this issue? My big picture is that this is being used to divide the population, and like you are doing, have them run around in circles with endless arguments that lead nowhere. It is also a way to separate out, the 10% or so, of the population, that has a certain moral compass to know what is right and wrong. Those being the only ones that they fear.

The originator of this thread specifically addresses this:
...The biggest problem with these laws, as Jordan Peterson has been tirelessly working to point out, is the suppression and control of free speech that they create.

But political issues notwithstanding, there is still the question of how gender works in society and whether it is a biological creation or a creation of society (or a little of both).
The invitation to post in this thread is encouraging people to share their reasoning if they've come to an intuition regarding whether or not gender is a social construct and that's what I did. You might feel like this creates endless debate, but how is that any different from any other politicized, polarized subject? Anyway, I'll answer your question. Still, I'd like to point out that this thread isn't about politics, it's actually about this discussion of where gender takes root.

To answer your big picture question:

Follow the money. You won't find a fundamentalist christian lobby funding a trans liberation non-profit and won't find a far-left fundraising collective bankrolling campaigns to repeal gender-inclusive laws. This issue has been morally polarized (one side is right and the other is wrong) and politicized just like covid has, just like so many things in our world. But that's policy, politics, power, justice, whatever.

But I would caution you against the idea that simply discussing these issues and laying out our thinking is to blame for this division. I would have us uphold our right (self-appointed, if need be) to discuss whatever subject, given the consent of those involved, of course.
 

Hello H2O

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
To answer your big picture question:
So, you agree with me?

Maybe you can restate your big picture in another way. Along the lines of, I think the big picture is...

The way you answered seemed to affirm what I had said.

If like you say, this has been politicized, and polarized, for what purpose? Or is it just organic, and agenda less. What is the big picture? In your opinion?
 

siftingmaterials

Padawan Learner
Since this was the crux of my point I'm going to ask you to come back to it. We didn't "evolve" to identify eachother as men or women; that's how we were designed, and such a design enables us to see one another as our designers see us and intended for us.
Oh okay, I see where you're coming from. You're a student of intelligent design somewhat in the vein of Michael Behe. Yes, what you're saying is coherent from an intelligent design perspective. I also see intention in the universe but I didn't get there as a student of intelligent design.

Adding gender as a concept without understanding that life (and therefore gender) is a product of design rapidly turns it into a term of abuse, as there's no basis in which interpretations can be properly grounded with respect to the true nature of things.
If there's a thread on this forum where you'd want to discuss things like understanding life or the power/impact/threat of interpretation, I'd be happy to. But I'm just as happy to leave it. We're not gunna be able to resolve our points of view without a lot of discussion. If that's something you're interested in, you can let me know and point me in the right direction!

That's because we call them hens. 😉
fair enough friend, hahaha
 
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