On April 16 the LGBTQ club hosted the “Gender around the World” presentation in the Oak Room. For those that may have missed it, the presentation was very informational and provided an insight into the misconceptions some have when referring to gender. One of the main things to remember when talking about gender is that it is not interchangeable with sex; they are very different terms. Sex refers to the biological characteristics that differentiate men from women. A clear example of this is that men have testicles, while women do not, and women ovulate, while men do not. These are characteristics of the sex of a person. Gender, on the other hand, refers to socially constructed roles of men and women. The roles, characteristics, attributes, and behaviors that a society associates with either a man or a woman all fall under the umbrella of gender, not sex. It is important to remember that these two terms do not mean the same thing. A person could be a male in terms of sex, but when it comes to gender they could be female, or vice versa. It all depends on the established constructs of the society they are living in.
Obviously, the world is made up of many societies, all with different social constructs and norms; some are similar to others while some are polar opposites. Throughout these different societies gender is present because, again, it is a socially constructed idea. Some examples of gender around the world come up when we look at America. We see that women in this country get paid less than men in the same line of work. This is a practice in many other countries around the world as well, but the point is that it has nothing to do with the genitals of the person doing the work. The pay scale in the workforce is not set according to sex. In other words, women aren’t paid less because they ovulate. It is an issue of gender. Another gender issue that ties closely into the work place is the home lifestyle. Throughout most of the world, women stay at home and do more housework than men. This all deals with the gender of a person because the biological construction of our bodies has nothing to do with how capable we are in doing housework. It’s just what society has established as the norm over time. In some places this is beginning to shift, but even in America we can still see how it will take a lot of time for this change to fully happen. An example of this is the “stay-at-home mom”. Most people don’t think twice about this label. However, if you switch that to “stay-at-home dad,” some people may have different thoughts. It is not as widely accepted because the gender role of a man in this society has not typically been the stay-at-home type.
These are just some brief examples of gender around the world. The exploration of gender can prove very fascinating. When you really get into it, the wealth of information surrounding it is impressive, especially the things we take for granted, or simply just haven’t noticed because we were unfamiliar with the difference between sex and gender. Anyone looking for more information regarding sex and gender should check out the LGBQT office, which is located across the hall from the Student Advising Center. They are more than happy to help answer questions, or to just have a conversation.
Article by Jimmy Gibbs