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Featured The Purpose of Gender

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by SalixIncendium, Feb 11, 2018.

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  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    This thread is inspired by a question in another thread inquiring if people associated gender with planets.

    Aside from the biologically obvious (procreation), what is the purpose of gender from a cultural, social, and religious standpoint?

    For those of you that assign gender to inanimate objects, what is the purpose in doing so?
     
  2. Mindmaster

    Mindmaster False Troll-King
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    First point, the point of gender roles is so that someone is doing the job. By defining these rules we basically gain access to more successful outcomes. A million years or more of them, in fact. They're not "made up", but rather driven by biological imperatives that have got us to this point of existence. They are our evolutionary advantage, if you really think about it. They have nothing to do with cultural or religious ideas either - you will find people who live in similar areas to have similar ideas of this. Socially, there are expectations but generally freedom to do as you will. So, I don't view them as a prison you cannot escape.

    Last point, we should not blindly accept assumed genders but anyone assigning them to inanimate objects is a nut case. We don't need to entertain these ideas, we need to refer them to the nearest psychiatric health facility. As far as what gender you feel like pretending you are, I see really no harm of it since people have the right to be happy. I think it is a bit strange, but it affects me in absolutely no way personally.
     
  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    First, I think there might easily be some psychological differences between the sexes that are genetically based, albeit a bit flexible in terms of how they are expressed behaviorally. I can't think of any at the moment -- I just now woke up -- but I do recall reading studies that suggest their presence. If so, then one of the questions to ask, on a case by case basis, is why such differences evolved in us? But rather than speak of their "purpose", I myself would speak of their "functions".

    Second, it has long been my impression that men and women are by and far mostly alike but that we tend to focus on the relatively few differences between us. Indeed, it might be said that those differences obsess us at times to the exclusion of our similarities.

    Again, a model that I use when thinking about the differences in any traits between men and women is "overlapping bell curves". For instance, suppose it were found that there is a genetic based difference between men and woman in how quickly each sex generally responds to a baby or infant's cries. I would generally expect that difference would be far from one sex responded to their cries while the other didn't. Instead, I would generally expect that one sex typically responded a bit sooner than the other, but that both sexes responded. Overlapping bell curves.

    Now having said all that about biological differences between the sexes, I think gender differences -- which, as I understand the term -- are not biologically based differences, but culturally based differences, probably serve a few purposes, not all of which I would think of as beneficial to most of us.

    For instance, the cultural perception of women as emotionally weaker than men seems to me to be more detrimental than beneficial to most of us, both men and women. But it also does seem to serve the purpose of helping to "keep women in their places" in the patriarchies that most of us live in.

    Again, there are also in my opinion some culturally based differences that in themselves seem relatively benign. For instance, the tendency of woman to spend more time and effort than men in making themselves physically attractive seems to me in itself relatively benign, although -- and I can't emphasize this enough -- modern corporate propaganda has turned that cultural based gender difference into a cancerous monster! Benign it might be in itself, but it's now tremendously destructive in so many ways.
     
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  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    FWIW, I wish I knew more about the evolution of gendered languages.
     
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  6. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Kissed by Fire

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    Many languages such as French and German do just that. I don't know why, it makes it wee harder to learn than it has be because you can't just learn "Tür" or "Stift," but rather you have to learn "die Tür" (feminine) and "der Stift" (masculine). It's very odd, but apparently something we felt important enough to do at some point way back when.
     
  7. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Kissed by Fire

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    I'd wager it's probably a very common curiosity for those who's native language is non-gendered and they learn a gendered language. Why? What's up this exactly?
     
  8. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    I do not understand the question, and I certainly do not understand why you seem to think that this curiosity stems from having a non-gendered native language. Parenthetically, the requisite Wiki article is interesting.
     
  9. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Kissed by Fire

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    Because I grew up in a culture with a language that doesn't ascribe feminine or masculine genders to inanimate objects. To learn it's actually a fairly common thing in other languages, why would one not be intrigued by such a thing?
     
  10. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    Well, the distinction that people who study this stuff make is that sex = biological aspects and gender = social aspects of being male, female, or nonbinary. Gender roles developed historically, and the role where women are associated with home tasks and childrearing won, but that is changing (which is how we know gender roles are socially constructed). The original "why" is a division of labor, based on sex differences.
     
  11. It Aint Necessarily So

    It Aint Necessarily So Well-Known Member
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    upload_2018-2-11_13-28-51.jpeg

    Two genders is not essential to procreation. Bacteria divide, bees reproduce by parthenogenesis (virgin births), and I believe that earthworms are all hermaphroditic. As I understand it, the power of sexual reproduction is in the gene shuffling that occurs during meiosis, which promotes evolution.
     
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  12. Sunstone

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    Some time ago, I read a paper that said in nearly every culture, women are responsible for the day-to-day food preparation, including any cooking that's to be done. Men might, in some cultures, be restaurant chefs, etc., but the day-to-day preparation is almost always done by women.

    The paper proposed that, because the phenomenon of women preparing the food for the family or group is either ubiquitous or nearly so, it might very well be an evolved trait in humans -- an instinct, if you will.

    It then went on to suggest possible reasons why the behavioral trait would have evolved in us. Unfortunately, I don't recall now much about those reasons other than that they had something to do with who prepares the food also usually distributes it, and that women distributing the food for the family or group might -- for some reason I've forgotten -- have entailed more reproductive advantages than men doing the same.
     
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  13. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Thnk & Care
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    First, the biology of gender is much, much more varied than most people are aware.

    Bacteria have no gender, but manage to reproduce quite well.

    Earthworms have both male and female organs in the same individual at the same time.

    Many species of animals (fish, amphibians, etc) will change gender depending on environmental conditions, with individuals being male at times and female at other times.

    There are species of fungi that have over 100 'genders' (some definitional issues arise here).

    Some species have gender determined early in life because of environment. So, there is an issue that many turtle species are becoming more female dominated because of global warming.

    There are species with *only* females: one is a recently discovered invasive species of crawdad. There is a species of lizard in the US southwest with only females.

    So, while gender seems to be *mostly* controlled by genetics in mammals (such as ourselves), there are many 'special cases' even among humans. Androgen insensitivity, for example, will make an individual with all female organs but that is genetically male. So, even physical aspects of gender are complicated.

    Once you step away from that and into issues of social constructs, pretty much anything is possible.
     
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  14. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    It's very interesting, actually. Linguistics is basically the study of human Operating Systems.

    Most linguistic genders have little or nothing to do with sex. We tend to equate gender (a linguistic term for type of noun-class) with sex because English is peculiar in having a pretty strict, sex based gender system. So much so that we've lately been able to replace the word "sex" with "gender" in ordinary conversation.
    In languages with non sex based genders, or with genders like animate vs inanimate, or natural vs artificial, such euphemisms would be impossible.
     
  15. Bird123

    Bird123 Well-Known Member

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    Gender changes the dynamics in many ways. Since we are all spiritual beings trapped in a physical body, gender supplies a connection from isolation.

    In a multilevel classroom, interaction is crucial. Gender supplies the need to interact and learn.

    In a world of nothing but learning, gender prevents things from getting dull. The thrill it supplies makes life worth living.

    Gender helps the economies of the world. A handsome or beautiful salesperson can and will keep the economy moving even with the cheapest person.

    Entertainment is important to life. How boring would all the movies and shows be without the spice of gender.

    Clearly, gender is an important part of the Big Picture. It could never be the same without it. Gender is a stroke of Genius at hand.

    As for people placing gender labels on inanimate objects, come on now, who does it hurt? It's just a game. A guy might label his boat after his wife simply because he loves them both. There is no special meaning behind it all.
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    I was under the impression the English was a pretty weak hybrid. We have gender-based pronouns - no doubt serving as disambiguation aids - but we do not have a system where 'chair' and 'city' are gendered, or where (to use a Hebrew example) 'father' is deemed masculine while 'fathers' is deemed feminine.
     
  17. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Yes, English has natural gender: male, female or sexless. It's unusual in that respect.
     
  18. Mindmaster

    Mindmaster False Troll-King
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    Linguistic gender has nothing at all to do with anything else. It's just a feature of certain languages where nothing is neuter. (Mostly romance languages...) A sandwich in French is masculine, a car is feminine. There is no logic to this most of the time in a real sense, other than certain word endings evoke certain requirements. Thus, it isn't masculine or feminine in a real sense - that's just a reference to how the language treats certain words when adjective, verbs, and other parts of speech apply to them. (As in, like they apply to pronouns...) It does not however indicate that those words actually ARE masculine or feminine. That's just conflating two things that have nothing to do with each other.
     
  19. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Yes, in French and German it's more about word endings than sex. There are sometimes two words for the same object -- each with a different gender. Gender has nothing to do with the object.
     
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  20. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Italian does something similar. The singular of ‘egg’ is l’uovo (lo uovo), masculine, but the plural is feminine le uova. :shrug:
     
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