In a bluish star, somewhere in the endless universe, the emotion was high. Less than a month ago, they have detected other form of life on a tiny insignificant star which is populated by creatures name humans. Task forces, observations teams, some where even had crossed the space to visit this planet called Earth. They were curious and who knows, it might even help one day.
Toka, a young Alien, was tasked to travel and learn the human language.
It might be awkward, Toka is an it, nor he nor she, them nor they. Better said, Toka isn't a non binary person, it simply doesn't have gender. Aliens, like atoms, don't have an attribute called
Anyway, sleepless Toka gave all it has. It learnt how people exchange, it took notes how they make wars, it even observed what people say without saying, in between the lines and words, how they lie, and all the other things they do with words.
might help they sought to establish a contact with inform them about these humans. to their stars and inform them occupy also exist in the make part of their universe. a group of aliens launched a mission. Since a language is a code of communication, one may wonder what do the genital organs inform us about. How does person's sex reveal or tell us anything about her/him?
The fact is that no one, ever, offered a satisfactory answer for this question.
This is mind-blowing. After all, the division man-woman is one of the most basic pillars of any language. It is also, and by far, the most fundamental element to shape our identity. Before we identify ourselves as a part of a culture, nation, ethnicity, family, etc' we form our gender identity.
This is so deeply engraved on our psyche that we cannot even imagine our language without this clear distinction between man-woman. In other words, we perceive it as a part of the objective reality, an in-refutable fact, like space of time. Yet, if you challenge yourself and would try to define it you would end up banging your head against the wall.
It is curious to note that these terms don't have any clear sense. Furthermore, gender doesn't provide us with any relevant information.
My argument may seem perverse, conspiratorial and fanatic. If that so, don't take my word on this, challenge it. Actually,it's extremely simple to refute it trash this article in the oblivion - just provide one, not even two, one attribute that is common to all men and/or all women.
*Before you raise the genital form or the reproduction argument, just ensure that you can prove that these physical attributes are fundamental to our personality.
Slightly amusing, the category we use the most to describe others and ourselves doesn't help us to perceive better the other, to gain an essential information about them.
Let's examine some motivations at the base this sentimental senseless.
argue, abandoning orthodox biology-based understandings of “woman,” “man,” “girl” and “boy” deprives language-users with immensely valuable tools to analyse and explain the material and social world.
The term personality has been defined in many ways, but as a psychological concept two main meanings have evolved. The first pertains to the consistent differences that exist between people ...It should be emphasized, however, that no definition of personality has found universal acceptance within the field.... many of the same functions and processes, such as attention, thinking, or motivation, the personologist places emphasis on how these different processes fit together and become integrated so as to give each person a distinctive identity, or personality.
A language is a structured system of communication. Communication (from Latin: communicare, meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is usually defined as the transmission of information. Merriam-Webster defines it as: "The process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviour". Communication to use a thin, consensual definition, is the act o transmitting or exchanging information from one side to another, through the use of sufficiently mutually understood signs and semiotic.
So what is than the information we pass when we describe a person as a man or a woman ?
The World Health Organisation summarizes the difference between sex and gender in the following way:
Sex refers to “the different biological and physiological characteristics of males and females, such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones, etc.”
Gender refers to "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviours – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. 17.”
While gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people, sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals. Physical and physiological features including chromosomes, hormone levels and function, and reproductive/sexual anatomy.
Define thus man-woman by their genetic organ, only tells us what is her/his sex, rather than his/her gender. Gender answer the question what are the person characteristics, her/his personality.
One will never claim for example that the height/nose's shape/hair colour etc' can tell us something substantive about the person. Why thus, genital organs are different? What is the information they transmit about the person?
to understand the last question, it might be helpful to clarify what is a person. Or more precisely, how do we define a person.
Definition means the act an act of determining, a statement of the meaning of a word, expressing the essential nature of something, its distinctness.
Stating the essential nature of a person is not something we can do, or at least agree upon. As the answer is based on our values, aesthetic - sort of criterion we cannot grade objectively. One may say its the person's nature/nationality/ethnicity/work, etc' and these are judgement calls they aren't quantifiable.
We can however observe how we do dedine other human being around us. How do we deine our driends, colleagues. That is how we distinguish between one friend/colleague and another? What is that 'thing' that we use to describe their distinctiveness. How to we specify them in the crowd ?
Our language has a very specific word for this action of defining a person - it is called a personality. Meriam-Webster derines personality as the quality or state of being a person. A set of distinctive traits and characteristics of a particular person specifically.
That is the particular actions that distinguish a person. Accordingly, one might say this person is nice/lazy/confused/annoying/dedicated/loyal/ect'. The personality attributes is what we use to specify how we value the person.
When we describe an individual's 'essential nature' we refer to their characteristics, personality and not to their biology or physiognomy.
We do acknowledge of course that this person has a tilted nose/brown hair/dark skin/small breast/152 cm/etc'. Yet never claim that a given physical attribute actually define this person. We never suppose that all people with a given height are the same.
We of course describe people appearance, we might even attach a high importance to it. This however inform us about an attraction we have towards the person, or repulsion. This doesn't tell us anything about that person, but about the level of intimacy we wish to have with her.
finally case of rejection of other by a physical attribute, ex: skin colour, origin. Yet, even in this unfortunate and sick case, human are still not described by their physicality. The racist, the one that stigmatizes others by a physical attributes, actually exclude them from the human community. He doesn't consider the 'other' to be human, but rather a member of an inferior race. When the discriminator would describe other people from his own supremacist group, he would value them by their personality and not by the shape of their hips.
If that so, how did we end up there? Why dis start use this category?
Sex differences in the etiology of human trait variation are a major topic of interest in the social and medical sciences given its far-reaching implications.
This large and fascinating question deserved a dedicated article. Here, we can only highlights some considerations.
To consider if biological sex shapes personality one has first to analyse the broader scope, that is, does Our appearance, and/or biology, shapes our personality.
or example a widespread belief in the Chinese culture claims personality can be discerned through physiognomy. While This notion that biology shape personality does exists in many cultures and appears many popular theories.
Scientifically wise these theories "doesn't hold water":
Assuming thought that we can overcome these questions and scientific studies that empirically analysed how and i sex does shapes personality found the following:
One study asked the participants to predict the gender of those other people using the personality traits. They were correct only 58 percent of the time, hardly better than a coin flip. This study actually found that "Most of us combine personality traits from different genders".
To avoid misunderstanding, many studies clearly found psychological sex differences refer to emotional, motivational, or cognitive differences between the sexes. Examples include greater male tendencies toward violence, or greater female empathy.
Yet, the exact mechanism behind the association of gender and personality differences. These studies clearly state that these differences can be attributed to environmental as well as biological effects. Diane Halpern points out that "Even when differences are found, we cannot conclude that they are immutable because the continuous interplay of biological and environmental influences can change the size and direction of the effects some time in the future."
Actually, the only place where statistic founding is clear is to state the opposite. Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.
Studies found that gender differences seem to depend on the context in which they were measured. In studies designed to eliminate gender norms, researchers demonstrated that gender roles and social context strongly determined a person's actions. For example, after participants in one experiment were told that they would not be identified as male or female, nor did they wear any identification, none conformed to stereotypes about their sex when given the chance to be aggressive. In fact, they did the opposite of what would be expected - women were more aggressive and men were more passive.
To the extent that studies can overcome methodological obstacles and expresses the opinion that "there are at least some differences, however large or modest, in the personality of the average man and woman", this hypothesis cannot justly the existent the preponderant linguistic categories such as man-woman.
Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. To the extent that studies can overcome methodological obstacles and tell us something about personality studies show that one's sex has little or no bearing on personality, cognition and leadership.
While our physical differences in size and anatomy are obvious, the question of psychological differences between the genders is at best controversial. Our depictions of men and women as fundamentally "different" appear to perpetuate misconceptions - despite the lack of evidence. This turns gender categories into "urban legends".
As much as we perceive this linguistic category as natural, obvious and unquestionable, we cannot explain why it is so. There is no one single argument that can tell us, what information do we communicate while saying man-woman.
No study, or a logical argument could explain why our language transpose a biological-natural sex information on the gender category. What does make it indispensable, what does it reveal about the subject, what do we try to communicate through these words? If these question cannot be answered through linguistic-scientific tools, one should analyse them through anthropological-socio-psychological perspective. That if like a myth. I the linguistic-scientific tools can tell us something about the gender category they tell us that Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon.
In second part o this article we'll take a small dive into these considerations.