Saturday, 17 March 2007

"Sex and Gender". Is there a difference?

The term "sex" and "gender" are often used interchangably. They are believed to have meant the same subject matter. Interestingly, anthropologists, sociologists, gender theorists and psychologists today are saying that they do not belong to the same category. In fact gender is defined as "a social construction, that it is "performative," and that one is always in the process of becoming a gender rather than actually being a gender" ( whereas sex "refers to the male and female duality of biology and reproduction" ( Thus gender would refer to the physical attribute of a person and it is bounded by cultural belief. Since you have breasts, it means you display femininity. Therefore you are a female. Sex, on the other hand, would refer to the intrinsic quality of a person. Hence a person maybe seen as a male but he is homosexual. If you think the complication stops there, here are some of the categories that fall under gender and sex.

(A) Gender

(i) Male

(ii) Female

(iii) Transgender- it is a generic term used by an individual, a community and/or society who self identifies themselves as either male/female/neither/both. *They do not imply any particular form of sexual orientation

(iv) Genderqueer- these are people who identify themselves as neither "man" nor "woman", or a combination of both

(B) Sex

(i) Heterosexual- refers to "straight" people; the normal kind

(ii) Homosexual- these are people who are sexually attracted to those of their kind.

(note: "lesbian" and "gays" are some of the terms used. "Gay people" can be referred to gays and lesbians. Gays and homos are terms often used interchangably but they, like gender and sex, are not exactly the same thing. Gaymen are attracted to men for more than sexual reasons. It is like a man attrated to woman for more than sexual reasons, though some are not, still it's that chemistry that I am referring to. Homos are sexually attracted to and may even engage in the physical intimacy with men (or women) only. They are sometimes called down-low (for man).)

(iii) Bisexual- these are people who are attracted to both man and woman

(iv) Pansexual- these are people who are attracted to people of all sorts of sexual orientation

(v) Transexual- it is a state in which a person self identifies him/herself as the gender opposite to the gender (for this case I am referring to just man or woman/male or female)

Phew...I think I've covered all. Feel free to add if I had missed out on any.

Why am I doing this you might ask? Well, all of us are aware that some people do not follow a traditional classification. We see these people a lot. We live among them. We see them at Far East, Bugis, Shaw House, Changi, Geylang and other places lah (must I name all, I don't know all). Unfortunately, due to their unconventional classification they get stigmatised by ignorant people. I feel sad for them. It is very difficult to rationalise their being but the least we could do is to accept. However, accepting is not enough. We have been schooled to understand something before we can accept them such as religious teachings. And I am one of these "unconventional people" I realise. It wasn't something that happened overnight. It took me a very long while to come to this. Mostly due to my conservative upbringing and strict religious teachings. I dare not break the moral boundaries.

Society, community, friends, family and religion dictate what I should be. And I know that this subject matter may bore you, but it is important to me- as a person to just know who you are. Do I need to explain further? I want to rationalise this. It's basic human nature I guess. Consider this a sequel to my pevious entry. And I don't think I will stop any time soon. It is interesting to know more about yourself and the ambiguity of it. At the same time, it frustrates and irritates me because I cannot classify them neatly. Somehow, there will be clashes. Nevetheless, I am not going to be passive. Call me the next Socrates if you wanna. Haha.

There are many stories out there about forbidden love. And you, as the audience, get to feel the frustration and wish that something would happen to change the course of events. Most of the time, if not all, the couples are reuinted because of some heroic deeds done. Well, moving into the real world- a world where pain and suffering, laughter and joy, emotions and feelings- exist and real; they are almost tangible, forbidden love is as real as you and I. As the mouse you touch to scroll down the screen. And it frustrates you that you are helpless. Although some people simply couldn't care about what others and religion, I do. I have a family that is oblivious to this. And friends too. I only told some. Even that I don't think I did the right thing. I have my religion that firmly governs my actions and principles. I can let go all of these and enjoy that blissful feeling, as others describe it as, true love brings but I will have to pay a very heavy price. Is it worth it? I am trapped. I do not know what to do...

Right now, I'm living by the conventions. It is very unsafe to reveal or disclose your true self. Firstly, because we are living in a rather conservative society still. Secondly, I have not form a strong conclusion of who I really am. Perhaps it is best to keep the matter low. Afterall as they say,"ignorant is bliss." But,"what you don't know can kill you..."

No comments: