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Abstractions
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bbinkovitz



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 6:40 am    Post subject: Abstractions
Subject description: What is gender? Where does it come from? Whose fault is it?
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I noticed this becoming a popular debate in the "Welcome" thread and thought I'd move it over here.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I'm feeling very pedantic tonight, so I will start this. I'm not happy, my Mac died today, now it's Applecare time to replace the PSU. So that's the mood I am in. This will take my mind off of the annoyance that comes with critical hardware failures. Smile

Anyway, "gender" in (Western) grammar is the modification and assignment of arbitrary words to describe the concepts of "masculine", "feminine", and "neuter".

We tend to categorise using the word "gender", and that approaches the concepts of sex, not sexuality.

Interestingly because I was reading before I wrote this, trying to get my definitions straight; the use of the term "gender" to describe sexual identity is relatively new, although clearly, in Western culture at least (I am not as well read on Eastern culture, sorry) it seems like it was always assumed that people knew the difference between the sexes. Pragmatically, in linguistic terms, an object is masculine, feminine, or neuter, in most of the "Classic" languages. English doesn't have a lot of that. Greek does, I know that. Just apply the wrong gender to a noun in Greek and watch people giggle at you.

One thing strikes me, though, and I had not thought about it before in this way, it is simply a differentiator in Greek and French (two languages I am familiar enough with), it is not a discriminator, linguistically. There is a subtle difference between differentiation and discrimination - Differentiation is simply recognising a difference between two entities. Discrimination is deciding an action based on the output of a differentiation, if I'm boiling my pages down to a short summary correctly.

OK, so there is a start on understanding why, culturally (Western culture at least) we differentiate between gender (and there's that third, neutral, gender). Someone else can talk about Eastern/Asian/African/South American/Lunar/Klingon cultures.

I'm not in the mood to talk about what the recording industry does to artists based on its discrimination, based on age, gender, sexuality, or whatever else they use. Not yet. I'll find the right words eventually.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
Pragmatically, in linguistic terms, an object is masculine, feminine, or neuter, in most of the "Classic" languages.

Italian language has no neuter gender. things (earthlings included) are either feminine or masculine.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There would be no "gender" if we reproduced assexually.
Then we could all carry "the determinate gene of both pairs of alternate characteristics", and would look like a cross between Ben Afleck and Uma Thurman. Shocked
No one would be "confused". Confused
Love would be extinct. Crying or Very sad
And a little "auto-erotic behaviour" could easily get you "knocked up" Rolling Eyes Wink

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Uncle Krunkus wrote:
There would be no "gender" if we reproduced assexually.


While gender is certainly strongly associated with (and often enforced based on others' perceptions of) one's biologic sex, "gender" is widely regarded as the social construction of roles according to division of labor within the classic "man-woman-x-number-of-babies" family unit.

Brief history lesson:
In early civilizations, the division of labor (no pun intended) on the basis of childbearing capacity -- "from each according to his/her/hir ability" -- as a practical matter, women with young children tended to hang out by the cave rather than go hunting. As human society evolved and matters of lineage were of key importance in the stratification of society and the flow of wealth, the female sexual capacity was commoditized and women were considered a category of property. "The chastity of women is of all importance, as all property depends on it" (Samuel Johnson). Those who began to accumulate surplus land and goods also accumulated surplus women. "Controlling women's sexuality went hand in hand with restricting their rights in all spheres. Those who began to accumulate property went on to restrict the rights of the majority of men as well." (Ellen Bravo, Taking on the Big Boys, pg 6)

So you're probably right that gender depends on the existence of a binary system of biological sexes, but gender is a completely different animal than biologic sex.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
and there's that third, neutral, gender


Pedantic sidenote: Some languages (like my own) have just the two neutrals (e.g. neutral and real).

/Stefan

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bbinkovitz wrote:
... but gender is a completely different animal than biologic sex.


Oh, I'm aware of that. I was just referring to it being a product of biologic sex, and being silly.
My partner has just completed an essay on the deviantisation of women's sexuality for her sociology degree, which I helped proofread. Of course there was a lot of lively discussion, as we quite enjoy bouncing ideas off each other to make sure she's included as many angles as possible/needed/can fit. Smile

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bbinkovitz wrote:
... as a practical matter, women with young children tended to hang out by the cave rather than go hunting. ...

We only assume this was the case. Nobody is sure...
'To hang out by the cave' describes a community which has a special place to stay, which was surely not the reality. Human had a nomad life and lived by occasion in caves.

Looking at 'primitive' (living in the first stage) communities, which were found in the late 19th century, women had a vital task in feeding the group by gathering seeds, roots and all vegetables available. Hiding these seeds in the ground rather then carrying them with the group could have started agriculture. Anyway, mankind couldn't have survived on meat alone.

The valuation of women could have started the group realizing forming couples within the group resulted in weakening it by incest and because the group wanted to keep the 'man power' to defend it, the women were exchanged between different groups, mostly a woman for a woman.

In my opinion the discrimination started in relation to the easiest way to survive. Only, now-a-days we have different needs, so we all can dump this way at looking at gender...

Which doesn't answer why in history there are so few women involved in music rather then performing artists. In music education there were some very important female composers, but only a few in the concert hall...

In The Netherlands a leading musical magazine wrote in 1960 about Tera de Marez-Oyens: House-wife making electronic music... Confused

Wout
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wout Blommers wrote:

In The Netherlands a leading musical magazine wrote in 1960 about Tera de Marez-Oyens: House-wife making electronic music... Confused


Shocked

I looked her up on Wikipedia and could find only a Dutch article. My attempt at translating it is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tera_de_Marez_Oyens

however seeing as I don't actually speak Dutch it might be a little weird so if you would like to proofread/expand it, that would be awesome.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Seems a pretty accurate translation to me.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very good! You read Dutch, for sure Smile
I would change 'instructor' into 'teacher' or 'tutor'.

I will try to find more articles on the net, although most of it will be in Dutch. For those trying to listen as much music composed by female musicians, I will try to make a list of published work.

In the museum there is her complete 'written' archive and most of the tapes.

Tera was a composer who liked to work with musicians (mostly amateurs in the way of admirers of music) who have little experiences with 'modern' music. She was definitely into sound. I had the pleasure working with (or under) her twice.

For the Dutch over here, she was the wife of Marten Toonder, the author of Oliver B Bommel.

Furthermore there is the Tera De Marez-Oyens Fundation which organize a prize for female composers.

Stichting Tera de Marez Oyens Fonds
Geleenhof 21
5655 AE EINDHOVEN
Netherlands

and also (English text)
http://www.vrouwenmuziek.nl/index_E.htm

In the other mail mentioned article there was a photograph of her surrounded by her seven children, very young. It had to me the appearances: 'Look, all these children has to do without their mother...'

Wout
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Antimon wrote:
Some languages (like my own) have just the two neutrals (e.g. neutral and real).

it sounds very "aseptic" to me Shocked

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

i follow the Greer approach. there's sex and there's gender.
your sex is determined by your chromosones and not, as the medical profession has and still does in most parts of the world, by the shape of your genetalia. hermaphrodites are always males with underdeveloped genitals. if you were to check their chromosones, they would always show 2 x chromosones. yet olddly enough, the majority of hermaphrodites have traditionally been raised as females.

as for gender, i follow the Ru Paul philosophy.

"we're all born naked. everything else is drag."

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Stanley Pain wrote:
hermaphrodites are always males with underdeveloped genitals. if you were to check their chromosones, they would always show 2 x chromosones.


Um, XX = female, surely?

/Stefan

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bbinkovitz wrote:
-- as a practical matter, women with young children tended to hang out by the cave rather than go hunting.


Having reached that age where every thing I know is wrong this inspired me to look up matriarchy which has been my one slim hope for humanity. And seems a lot of what I knew is in dispute. But what I found most interesting is that Bonobos are matriarchal.

Stanley Pain wrote:

"we're all born naked. everything else is drag."


Gets my vote for best quote this year.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:

Interestingly because I was reading before I wrote this, trying to get my definitions straight; the use of the term "gender" to describe sexual identity is relatively new, although clearly, in Western culture at least (I am not as well read on Eastern culture, sorry) it seems like it was always assumed that people knew the difference between the sexes.


Actually, a lot of what we take for granted in this area is very modern.

Just for kicks and without using Google; how long has the term "hetrosexuality" been in use?

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:

Just for kicks and without using Google; how long has the term "hetrosexuality" been in use?


i'm not sure but i'd venture a guess that kinsey had something to do with its widespread use.

i took a class about women and gender in jewish society from late antiquity to modernity, and the professor stressed over and over again that even religions with bans on homosexual acts do not historically have bans on homosexuality as an identity or concept since the idea of homosexual identity or orientation is only as old as the concept of heterosexuality as a normative construct, and it's really not very old. of course, just like the cult of domesticity and the "leisured housewife" and the nuclear family as we know it which came into vogue almost overnight in wilhelmine germany, since within a decade of its inception and wide acceptance it has purported a myth of itself being old and revered to the point of being primordial.

for further reading (from a jewish-historical slant, but still informative about the evolution of gender and family in european history in general): "the making of the jewish middle class" by marion kaplan and "unheroic conduct" by daniel boyarin.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
Just for kicks and without using Google; how long has the term "hetrosexuality" been in use?
I can only talk about the Dutch language, which you speak also, Kassen, in which the term 'hetero-sexualiteit' doesn't exists rather then in loan of the English language and in which the word 'heterofiel' is introduced exactly in 1970!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The older I get the more it is clear to me that everyone is different and everyone is very complicated. Thus, I try as best I can to avoid stereotypes and generalizations - maybe that includes abstractions too, I'm not sure.

Still, when I'm in a room/meeting/activity with only men I sense something is missing without women. When I'm the only man in a room/meeting/activity I sense being different and isolated at some level. Activities where both men and women are present seem richer somehow to me.

The same goes for gay people, and people of different cultures and religions. Even people who prefer to have sex with animals. There is some positive value in diversity that I think is related to enrichment and enlightenment.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Even people who prefer to have sex with animals. There is some positive value in diversity that I think is related to enrichment and enlightenment.

diversity is one thing, perversion is another one Wink

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wikipedia wrote:
Perversion is a term and concept describing those types of human behavior that are perceived to be a deviation from what is considered to be orthodox or normal. Perversion differs from deviant behavior, since the latter refers to a recognized violation of social rules or norms (although the two terms can apply to the same behavior).

Before the 20th century the term often referred to religious perversion, i.e. changing one's religion to an erroneous one. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, perversion is

The action of perverting or condition of being perverted; the action of turning aside from what is true or right; the diversion of something from its original and proper course, state, or meaning; corruption, distortion; (Theol.) change from Christian belief or truthfulness to non-Christian belief or falsity (opposed to conversion;[...] apostasy.

Thus, for example, if a Catholic became a Protestant, the Catholic church considered the newly Protestant person a pervert.

In the present day, the word is often presumed to mean sexual, rather than religious or other, perversion.


I figured this would come up. Perversion is fortunately an evolving term. Many people still think homosexuality is perversion. Perversion seem to be something religions are concerned with, like evil, and death. Anyway, I brought it up because today many are liberal about homosexuality, women's rights, religious intolerance, racial equality, and the like, but revert to older cultural biases in other areas.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

the risk of being too open-minded is that your brain could fall out

Cool

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
the risk of being too open-minded is that your brain could fall out

Cool


No, no, no. It's "minds are like parachutes; they work better when they're open"

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wout Blommers wrote:
I can only talk about the Dutch language, which you speak also, Kassen, in which the term 'hetero-sexualiteit' doesn't exists rather then in loan of the English language and in which the word 'heterofiel' is introduced exactly in 1970!


It's exited in English for longer (but not *that* much). the amusing thing is that "hetrosexuality" as a word only got introduced as a contrast to "homosexuality". The whole idea of "sexual orientation" is a relatively modern one. Of cource earlier there were references like the Biblical mandate against "lying with a man like with a woman" but those refered to *acts* not to a orientation as a inherent property.

Interesting stuff, I think.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:

The same goes for gay people, and people of different cultures and religions. Even people who prefer to have sex with animals. There is some positive value in diversity that I think is related to enrichment and enlightenment.



As far as I know the issue with having sex with animals comes from the idea that ancient cultures had that this might result in animal-human hybrid creatures. Why those would be so bad isn't all that clear to me but they did... For some reason crossing a donkey with a horse is fine but a half-man-half-lion would be terible. I don't see why we still need that taboo now that we know you simply can't reproduce with animals as the genes won't line up.

Interestingly the Netherlands is on the verge of changing the law on this topic. The old law stated that you couldn't have sex with animals if it caused the animal harm, the new one forbids sex with animals alltogether.

It's not quite clear to me why there is a need for that change; by definition it's clearly not for the benefit of the animals so WHY is there a need to outlaw this that warrants the state's involvement in such private matters? Within some bounds (like fishing) it's legal to *recreationally kill* animals but copulating with a horse, not matter how little the horse minds (and if a horse minds I don't think too much will happen as horses are quite large) is terrible.

Could somebody who believes in such morality kindly explain why killing the bull and cooking it makes it ok to put a bull's testicles in your mouth and it's otherwise cause for punishment? I'm sure that if the bull would have a say in this it'd be quite different! (sorry to be so graphic but bulls are the only case I could think of where genitals are eaten in Western cuisine).

Oh, and another matter; why exactly isn't leather fetishism considdered animal-necrophilia? Or is it and will all practicing leather fetishists be put in jail after the new laws on beastiality become active? As this might end up in court there *will* need to be a clearly defined line between what constitutes a dead cow and where it becomes a leather cod-piece. Somewhere in the process that turns animal skin into leather must be the equivalent of the midnight hour that makes a person over the age of consent and as this means the line between legal and illegal it will need a definition. Perhaps somebody who is strongly opposed to beatiality will be able to help?

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