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agalisgv
02-02-2012, 12:27 AM
Exactly. The fact that there are exceptions doesn't make it not true. I guess you didn't read BR's article. Here's an excerpt:
Many think you can simply look at a person’s “sex chromosomes.” If the person has XY chromosomes, you declare him a man. If XX, she’s a woman. Right?

Wrong. A little biology: On the Y chromosome, a gene called SRY usually makes a fetus grow as a male. It turns out, though, that SRY can show up on an X, turning an XX fetus essentially male. And if the SRY gene does not work on the Y, the fetus develops essentially female.

Even an XY fetus with a functioning SRY can essentially develop female. In the case of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, the ability of cells to “hear” the masculinizing hormones known as androgens is lacking. That means the genitals and the rest of the external body look female-typical, except that these women lack body hair (which depends on androgen-sensitivity).

Women with complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome are less “masculinized” in their muscles and brains than the average woman, because the average woman makes and “hears” some androgens. Want to tell women with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome they have to compete as men, just because they have a Y chromosome? That makes no sense.

So, some say, just look at genitals. Forget the genes — pull down the jeans! The I.A.A.F. asks drug testers to do this. But because male and female genitals start from the same stuff, a person can have something between a penis and a clitoris, and still legitimately be thought of as a man or a woman.

Moreover, a person can look male-typical on the outside but be female-typical on the inside, or vice versa. A few years ago, I got a call from Matthew, a 19-year-old who was born looking obviously male, was raised a boy, and had a girlfriend and a male-typical life. Then he found out, by way of some medical problems, that he had ovaries and a uterus.

Matthew had an extreme form of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. His adrenal glands made so many androgens, even though he had XX chromosomes and ovaries, that his body developed to look male-typical. In fact, his body is mostly male-typical, including his muscle development and his self identity.

O.K., you say, if chromosomes and genitals do not work, how about hormones? We might assume that it is hormones that really matter in terms of whether someone has an athletic advantage.

Well, women and men make the same hormones, just in different quantities, on average. The average man has more androgens than the average woman. But to state the obvious, the average female athlete is not the average woman. In some sports, she is likely to have naturally high levels of androgens. That is probably part of why she has succeeded athletically. Basically the article discounted your definition of biological sex as inherently flawed.

That may be why BR concluded:
Perhaps sex blends into gender and the biological blends into the socially constructed and back again. Which was what I was arguing and what I thought was wrong with the traditional concept of biological sex.
Let's put it this way, does the fact that some cats have extra toes mean that cats don't generally have 5 toes per paw? I don't think so. Yes, some cats have 6 toes on one or more paws, but they are considered a mutation and don't negate the common characteristics of what makes a cat a cat. Cats' hind paws only have 4 toes per paw :shuffle:. So maybe what you are so very certain is an immutable characteristic of a species is, well, inaccurate. And in the context of this discussion, perhaps your view of biological sex is largely constrained by preconceived genderized views of people.

As BR's article concluded:
The fact is, sex is messy. This is demonstrated in the I.A.A.F.’s process for determining whether Semenya is in fact a woman. The organization has called upon a geneticist, an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, a psychologist and so forth.

Sex is so messy that in the end, these doctors are not going to be able to run a test that will answer the question. Science can and will inform their decision, but they are going to have to decide which of the dozens of characteristics of sex matter to them.

Japanfan
02-02-2012, 03:02 AM
I don't think that can have been the case very early on though. I think with cavemen, the differences were much more tied to biology and the fact that women are the ones giving birth. So at some point, society became invested in putting men and women into pigeon holes but before that society was pretty primitive so it's hard to believe they would have strongly defined gender roles designed to keep women down. What would be the point?

I agree. In early or ancient societies (I prefer not to use the word primitive) gender roles would have been defined but not most likely not defined to oppress women. A division of labour between the sexes is pretty much a standard in traditional societies. Woman's roles were built around child-bearing and raising, so the work they did was built around that as suited a given society's needs (i.e gathering, tilling the fields). It's not surprising that women came to be responsible for food production - today they produce something like 70% of the world's foods.

The values and status associated with men's work/roles versus women's work/roles would have come later. Some historians and scientists argue otherwise, that women have been oppressed from the get go, but the validity of this view has been questioned by anthropologists, historians and analyses of mythology.

MacMadame
02-02-2012, 03:22 AM
I guess you didn't read BR's article.
I did read it. I think she's taking some very rare exceptions and using them to "prove" that you can't easily determine what it means to be one sex or the other. As I said, I don't think these exceptions negate the basic definitions. There have always been mutations and animals that don't meet 100% of the definition for what it means to be a particular species or a particular sex within that species and yet we don't throw out our whole classification system because of it.



The values and status associated with men's work/roles versus women's work/roles would have come later. Some historians and scientists argue otherwise, that women have been oppressed from the get go, but the validity of this view has been questioned by anthropologists, historians and analyses of mythology.
What fascinates me is why? Why decide to oppress on sex or the other when I don't see a biological advantage to doing so.

agalisgv
02-02-2012, 06:06 AM
There have always been mutations and animals that don't meet 100% of the definition for what it means to be a particular species Are there really animals that don't fit within their species, but are still labeled as belonging to that species?

I'm not that up on the topic, but that would surprise me. What animal is that true for?

IceAlisa
02-02-2012, 06:14 AM
A little background on the SRY gene, genotypes and phenotypes, which is what the quoted article is really talking about. When it says "essentially male" or "essentially female", the key word is "essentially".



Effect upon anatomical sex

Since its discovery, the importance of the SRY gene in sex determination has been extensively documented:
Humans with one Y chromosome and multiple X chromosomes (XXY, XXXY etc.) are usually males.
Individuals with a male phenotype and an XX (female) karyotype—XX male syndrome—have been observed; these males have the SRY gene in one or both X chromosomes (or possibly on an autosome), moved there by chromosomal translocation. (However, these males are infertile.)
Similarly, there are females with an XXY or XY karyotype. These females have no SRY gene in their Y chromosome, or the SRY gene exists but is defective (mutated).

SRY and the Olympics

One of the most controversial uses of this discovery was as a means for gender verification at the Olympic Games, under a system implemented by the International Olympic Committee in 1992. Athletes with a SRY gene were not permitted to participate as females, although all athletes in whom this was "detected" at the 1996 Summer Olympics were ruled false positives and were not disqualified. In the late 1990s, a number of relevant professional societies in United States called for elimination of gender verification, including the American Medical Association, stating that the method used was uncertain and ineffective. The screening was eliminated as of the 2000 Summer Olympics.

SRY-related diseases and defects

Individuals with XY genotype and functional SRY gene can have an outwardly female phenotype due to an underlying androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). SRY is essential for 'maleness', loss of SRY gene from Y chromosome means XY individuals that are normally male will have female characteristics (Swyer syndrome).

joeperryfan
02-02-2012, 09:43 AM
What fascinates me is why? Why decide to oppress on sex or the other when I don't see a biological advantage to doing so.

Paternity certainty. Women always know they are the mother of a child, men can never be sure they are the father and as males started to invest more on the upbringing of their children, instead of just making them and going away, the need to make sure the investment was being made on their biological child grew and thus a necessity to restricts and confine women's steps.
The biological advantage for males is to make sure they are upbringing their biological children and for females is to have more support from the males in the upbringing.

Japanfan
02-02-2012, 09:56 AM
What fascinates me is why? Why decide to oppress on sex or the other when I don't see a biological advantage to doing so.

There are different theories about that. One is that it began when men in goddess or earth-spirit worshipping societies sought to create their own gods. That done, men and their gods became dominant in certain situations, particularly situations of conflict. My thought is that in a peaceable, egalitarian society (as ancient agrarian societies are seen to be) , aggressive men would be contained or perhaps shunned, but in a situation of war, such men would be exalted.

So, for example, when the hordes from the European-Asian north invaded goddess-worshiping Greece (where one of remaining temples to the Goddess still stands in part), patriarchy took hold. Men had an opportunity to assume positions of power and those who could, did, though the process took time. It can traced through mythology - the all-powerful Greek earth mother/life creator Gaia diminished in importance during that period of time, with Zeus rising to the far and Venus representations such as Aphrodite of Melos becoming the mythological ideal of feminine beauty and love. Such images replaced the previously omnipresent images of the heavy, squat and seemingly very pregnant fertility goddess now now as Venus of Wilendorf.

It's also been speculated that ancient/cavepeople societies with magical belief systems did not understand the sperm-egg relationships and saw pregnancy as goddess-given or mystically bestowed. Hence, matrilineage would be only natural. It makes sense to me, especially in societies where sex is not restricted to monogomy. Once men realized their role in pregnancy, they were able to assume dominance over women with an oppressive patrilineal system. And patrilineage is one of the lynchpins of patriarchy.

But the men who dominate within patriarchy are some (and few) men, not all men. It's the basic 'power over' system and since it took hold so long ago, it's become entrenched and encoded in how we live. Though some men and women have and continue to fight it.

As to the biological advantage, I'm not sure there really is one. As joeperryfan points out, females need support from men in patrilineal systems. But that need is exaggerated because women relinquish their power and autonomy.

As to men, a social and political advantage is gained by those few who hold 'power over' the many others. The son inherits the status of the father, giving a man a better of chance of becoming the next Caesar so to speak. I suppose it's possible that if men in power have more children, more men like themselves would be produced. But it seems to me that are far too many environmental variables for this to be a smooth process, especially since I don't believe that gender is biologically determined.

Goodness knows, there have been enough insane and destructive men in power to question their biological competence or superiority. And I think were it women within the same system of power over, we are equally capable of being insane and destructive.

Of course we have little solid evidence of how people actually lived some 12,000 years or so. But I find it a fascinating subject to explore and think about and nothing yet has convinced me that women's oppression is intrinsic to human society.

IceAlisa
02-07-2012, 01:33 AM
Here's a tangentially relevant article about skirts vs. pants as school uniform: http://shine.yahoo.com/fashion/connecticut-catholic-school-banning-skirts-uniform-201500337.html

agalisgv
02-07-2012, 01:48 AM
From the article:
St. Bernadette Catholic School will be updating the girls uniforms next fall. After many female students have been rolling up their plaid skirts to make them shorter, the school has decided to ban their current skirts and jumpers and replace them with khaki pants. Parents are upset that they'll have to shell out more money for new uniforms, but they're also angry that their daughters will look less feminine. I thought this quip from one parent interesting:
Nancy Owens, who crafted the petition [to oppose the uniform change], said she too prefers the current recognizable plaid girls uniforms. "I don't want my kid looking like a magnet school kid," she said.

fluorescein
02-07-2012, 02:49 AM
From the article: I thought this quip from one parent interesting:
Quote:Nancy Owens, who crafted the petition [to oppose the uniform change], said she too prefers the current recognizable plaid girls uniforms. "I don't want my kid looking like a magnet school kid," she said.

:lol: DD's charter school allows khaki or navy skirts, jumpers, pants or bermuda shorts for girls, but by middle school, when the hiking up of skirts in Catholic schools typically starts, all the girls in her charter school have gone to pants or bermuda shorts exclusively. DD says it's for maximum modesty. Nothing under a skirt is sufficient for their sensibilities at that age, I guess. :D Her Catholic school friends, though, continue to wear hiked up skirts, even when they have the option of pants or shorts. Not sure what to make of that...:shuffle:

I will say though that even in our relatively, um, conventional environment, her school/classmates is/are pretty progressive. Kids who don't quite fit the norms are accepted for who they are. I think of our area as slightly backward, but maybe we're not so bad.

IceAlisa
02-07-2012, 04:30 AM
From strictly a fashion standpoint, the plaid skirts are cuter than the replacement outfit proposed, IMO. Also, the parents are paying for the brand and want the uniform to be recognizable, I suppose.

From a practical standpoint, I was always wondering if the girls were cold during the winter months in those skirts and tights vs. pants. I personally tend to wear slacks more during the colder months and switch to dresses and skirts/blouses during the warmer months. In the old country we had to wear very itchy and ugly brown wool dresses (http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/limecrime/blog/sovietuniforms.jpg) with white aprons on special occasions and black aprons on regular days. Boys wore white or blue shirts and blue pants and jackets. Gawd, I hated that dress, made us look like housemaids. :scream: However, during the harsh winters, I had to wear an additional pair of knit tights, and so am wondering about girls wearing skirts here.

my little pony
02-07-2012, 04:34 AM
we always wore tights in the winter under the skirt. often in the winter, people wore sweatpants or something on the bus in the morning under the skirt. there was always a pants option but no one ever wore it, it was fug.

when i was recently at the liberty bell, there was some school there where all the girls were in khaki pants. they looked like little jc penney saleswomen.

PDilemma
02-07-2012, 04:37 AM
From strictly a fashion standpoint, the plaid skirts are cuter than the replacement outfit proposed, IMO. Also, the parents are paying for the brand and want the uniform to be recognizable, I suppose.

From a practical standpoint, I was always wondering if the girls were cold during the winter months in those skirts and tights vs. pants. I personally tend to wear slacks more during the colder months and switch to dresses and skirts/blouses during the warmer months. In the old country we had to wear very itchy and ugly brown wool dresses (http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/limecrime/blog/sovietuniforms.jpg) with white aprons on special occasions and black aprons on regular days. Boys wore white or blue shirts and blue pants and jackets. Gawd, I hated that dress, made us look like housemaids. :scream: However, during the harsh winters, I had to wear an additional pair of knit tights, and so am wondering about girls wearing skirts here.

At the school I taught at, they wore the skirts all winter. With Uggs. And whined because they were cold. And they wore the skirts in the warm months. With Uggs. And whined because their feet were hot.

Teenagers can be so delightful!

On a serious note, they had the option to wear khaki pants as well, and many alternated. They could also wear khaki shorts and skorts. None of them wore the skorts. And most of the boys wore shorts year round. And whined about being cold.

IceAlisa
02-07-2012, 04:45 AM
^^^:lol:


we always wore tights in the winter under the skirt. often in the winter, people wore sweatpants or something on the bus in the morning under the skirt. there was always a pants option but no one ever wore it, it was fug.

when i was recently at the liberty bell, there was some school there where all the girls were in khaki pants. they looked like little jc penney saleswomen.
Yeah, that's the problem with the proposed uniforms of that school. Little saleswomen.

MacMadame
02-07-2012, 05:34 AM
they looked like little jc penney saleswomen.
Not Target salespeople? :lol: