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  1. #321
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    I found an interesting article on the issue of determining sex in athletics in relation to the situation Caster Semenya faced: Where’s the Rulebook for Sex Verification?

    The fact that there are people who have characteristics of both sexes doesn't mean that sex isn't biological. In this case of sports, its all about biology and not socialization and gender it seems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    She works from home on a very part time basis. In the summer, when their kids are home all day, her husband has to leave lunch for her and them and the kids have to reheat it. Because even doing that much cooking would, in my friend's view, make her a submissive wife in an unequal marriage.
    She'd better pray that her husband never drops dead or else she and the kiddies are going to starve to death a month after his funeral.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moojja View Post
    And there are also people with born with their heart on the right side. It's a birth defect
    Or one could view it as a variation. Perhaps there's a much wider range of normal than people normally account for .
    it shouldn't have any impact on the biological definition of sex as it relates to Homo Sapiens.
    I'm just wondering what that definition is. MacMadame said sex is defined by having or not having a Y chromosome, and whether you have a vagina or penis.

    But by all accounts, Semenya views herself (and those around her have always viewed herself) as a female despite likely having Y chromosome yet also a vagina.

    On wiki it says biological sex is defined by the gametes one produces.
    An organism's sex is defined by the gametes it produces: males produce male gametes (spermatozoa, or sperm) while females produce female gametes (ova, or egg cells)
    But then those who don't produce any gametes for whatever reason would presumably not have a sex from a biological perspective, regardless of presence of vaginas, penises, both, or neither.
    She is still a human being with all the rights and dignity that it implies. And if she chose to live and see herself as woman, then she has that right.
    But according to her, she didn't choose to be a woman--it's what she is and always has been. So who are others to say otherwise?

    People tend to view gender as a choice and lifestyle, while sex as something fixed and unchosen. But perhaps there's far more mutability and choice in sex than we think. And perhaps the way we view sex is inextricable from the way we conceive of gender.

    Food for thought

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
    She'd better pray that her husband never drops dead or else she and the kiddies are going to starve to death a month after his funeral.
    That thought has crossed my mind. Among others. This woman went from her parents' house to a college dorm, back to her parents' house for two years, then got married. I suspect that in spite of her larger than life take charge persona, there are a lot of things she would not be able to handle without him. He takes care of everything in their household.

  5. #325
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    Perhaps sex blends into gender and the biological blends into the socially constructed and back again.
    Congratulations 2014 World Ice Dance Champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte!!!

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    I thought Simone de Beauvoir framed the issue of social construction versus biological determination well in asking: 'is a woman born or made'? and asserting 'biology is destiny'.

    Many people commonly believe that a woman is born and this belief is deeply encoded in the norms and values of most societies. There has always been research asserting this claim, research which generally supports the status quo in presenting women as inferior to men or as 'made' in a certain way. Among women, the biological view is often celebrated because it affirms that we are different than men.

    It's been believed that women have a thinner corpus callosum than men and are therefore more scattered and less focused than men. That women have weaker visual-spatial skills than men, that women aren't as good as men at math, that women talk more than men, or rather women chatter, while what men says matters. That women are largely emotional, intuitive beings. And so on and so forth - one of the most troubling scientific claims I've come across was related to the theory of the humors and asserted that women's ovaries were cold, so the heat of male sperm was necessary to warm them up.

    I used to hold to the biological view of gender as well until I started doing some reading about the science, particularly the work of feminist scientist Anne Fausto-Sterling. She finds flaws in a lot of the research on gender that has been done by credible scientists. For example, the fact that children's brains continue to grow after birth raises doubts about claims that girls' brains differ from boys' brains at birth. Also, she points to the need for cross-cultural studies to support claims that traits are biological (if they are, they would be species wide).

    In addressing the claim that girls have weaker visual-spatial skills she looks at two difference societies, one (the Temne in Sierra Leone) where girls lives/social roles are restricted and one in in which girls have a lot of freedom and autonomy (Eskimos). There are no visual-spatial skill differences between boys and girls in the latter, but a marked difference in the former, which suggests that these skills are developed, not determined by sex/biology.

    I agree with Fausto-Sterling's view that behaviour and capacities emerge from a complex web of interactions between biology and the social/cultural environment. And that the lens of scientific research on gender is coloured by often-hidden agendas which reflect prevailing social norms and beliefs such that perceptions of 'truth' are skewed.

    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame
    I think certain biological differences started it all. But that most of what gender is about goes way beyond that and also much of the biological differences have been neutralized in modern society due to machinery and medicine. Yet we still have these gender constructs so I think at this point, it's about society trying to preserve itself from change more than anything innately biological.
    I agree that society wants to protect the status quo in its construction of women. But biological views of gender have always been suspect in that they've supported the status quo and unequal treatment of women. Our biology as women has long been viewed negatively -we've been seen as more carnal than men, less capable than men because are main role is to birth and mother, and even physically flawed.

    We still see this today to a certain extent. Take for example views of PMS - there is joke that goes: 'why is it called PMS?Because Mad Cow Disease was taken'. This essentially means that women in general become unstable and dangerous when they are menstruating, the implications of which are deeply troubling IMO.

  7. #327
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    Perhaps sex blends into gender and the biological blends into the socially constructed and back again.

  8. #328
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    Perhaps sex blends into gender and the biological blends into the socially constructed and back again.
    I like that.
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

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    Persuading men to cook is easy. It is creative, there is fire involved, and the instant gratification of diner at the end of it.
    Besides, there are lots of male chefs.
    Lots of chauvinist pigs *cook*.
    It is the cleaning up that separates the men from the boys!

  10. #330
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRidge View Post
    The fact that there are people who have characteristics of both sexes doesn't mean that sex isn't biological.
    Exactly. The fact that there are exceptions doesn't make it not true. There are always exceptions even in nature.

    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.

    Likewise, the fact that a small minority of humans have XXX or XXY chromosomes doesn't mean that we can't say that males have XY and females have XX. That's the case 99+% of the time and the exceptions are just that: exceptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    I agree that society wants to protect the status quo in its construction of women. But biological views of gender have always been suspect in that they've supported the status quo and unequal treatment of women.
    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?
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  11. #331
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    te]

    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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 . 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.
    Last edited by agalisgv; 02-02-2012 at 12:41 AM.

  12. #332

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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.

  13. #333
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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?

  15. #335
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    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).
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  16. #336

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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.

  17. #337

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Japanfan; 02-02-2012 at 10:11 AM.

  18. #338
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    Here's a tangentially relevant article about skirts vs. pants as school uniform: http://shine.yahoo.com/fashion/conne...201500337.html
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    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.
    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. 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...

    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.

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