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Gender and/or Sex

by D B 4 years ago in gender roles
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What is gender? And how is it different to sex?

Gender and sex are two different concepts, even though they are often considered the same (Diamond, 2002). The essentialist understandings of biological differences between males and females (ergo sex) have allowed for a patriarchal society that is dominated by men (Nicholson, 1994). Sex created a division of labour due to capabilities that males had that were absent in females, and vice versa (Hartmann, 1976). Females evolved to be suited to nurturing offspring through physical and emotional care, whereas males evolved to be aggressive in order to protect sexual partners and offspring (Bjorklund & Shackelford, 1999).

It was argued that the sexes behave in such was due to social learning theory (Mahoney & Freeman, 2012) by where the sexes will behave and take on the attitudes of the elders of the sex. Through language, the sexes are divided through how it is believed they should be, represented by characteristics (Rowland, 1977). Due to this belief, gender schemas were developed, then assuming the roles, attitudes, and behaviours of genders (Bem, 1981).

Recent postmodern movements have stressed the similarity of males and females and the meanings of gender through discourse on experiences (Hare-Mustin & Marecek, 1988). Delphy (1993) argued that sex and gender needed to be questioned by feminists in order to force change towards hierarchical relations, and then question the assumption that gender is based on sexual dichotomy. Rich (1980) has been detrimental in spreading the voice of women suppressed under the masculinised heteronormative society. There are advancements with projects, such the Everyday Sexism project (Bates, 2017) and ‘No more page three’ petition (Holmes, 2017), to limit the degradation of women. These projects project change.

The ideal characteristics are applied to both sexes; it was found that homosexuality was more accepted among males than males whom are effeminate yet heterosexual (Pascoe, 2007). While females are expected to behave in one manner, it was also found that males are forced to behave as masculine to fit the gender-polarised culture that developed (Bem, 1988), following such a culture because they believe that they have to (Mahoney & Freeman, 2012). Our preconceptions of what it means to be a 'man' or a 'woman' cloud our judgement of what it means to be happy, and to be us, ourselves.


Bates, L. (2017). The Everyday Sexism Project: a year of shouting back. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017].

Bem, S. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88(4), 354-364. DOI: 10.1037//0033-295x.88.4.354

Bem, D. (1998). Is EBE theory supported by the evidence? Is it androcentric? A reply to Peplau et al. Psychological Review, 105, 395-398.

Bjorklund, D. & Shackelford, T. (1999). Differences in parental investment contribute to important differences between men and women. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8(3), 86-89. DOI: 10.1111/1467-8721.00020

Delphy, C. (1993). Rethinking sex and gender. Women's Studies International Forum, 16(1), 1-9. DOI: 10.1016/0277-5395(93)90076-l

Diamond, M. (2002). Sex and gender are different: Sexual identity and gender identity are different. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 7(3), 320-334. DOI: 10.1177/1359104502007003002

Hare-Mustin, R. & Marecek, J. (1988). The meaning of difference: Gender theory, postmodernism, and psychology. American Psychologist, 43(6), 455-464. DOI: 10.1037//0003-066x.43.6.455

Hartmann, H. (1976). Capitalism, patriarchy, and job segregation by sex. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1(3, Part 2), 137-169. DOI: 10.1086/493283

Holmes, L. (2017). Sign the Petition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017].

Mahoney, M. & Freeman, A. (2012). Cognition and psychotherapy. Boston: Springer, 81-99. DOI:

Nicholson, L. (1994). Interpreting gender. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 20(1), 79-105. DOI: 10.1086/494955

Pascoe, C. (2007). Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School.. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5(4), 631-660. DOI: 10.1086/493756

Rowland, R. (1977). The Bem sex-role inventory. Australian Psychologist, 12(1), 83-88. DOI: 10.1080/00050067708255864

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