Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I don't know.  This seems a little facile.

On the other hand....it is surely true that at least some, and perhaps most, of our expectations about gender roles really are socially constructed.  And if someone wants to "identify" differently, that's okay with me.

I'm not so sure this is okay, with me.  That's a lot to keep track of.  And it's all made up.  I understand, that's the point, that ALL genders and roles are made up, or "socially constructed," and so why not make up better ones.  But I really think that any parent who has been around little boys and little girls will have some doubts about the claim that gender roles are 100% socially constructed.


Simon Spero said...

Sufficiently hard to keep track of that some of the definitions in the glossary are incorrect- for example, being cis-gendered is generally defined as being an essential property.

A person assigned male at birth, and currently identifying as male, but who at some intervening instant identified as anything other than as male is not cis-male. Because gender identity need not be manifested in any detectable form (until brain states can be fully decoded, if physicalism holds), cis- status cannot be externally proved.

Check your privilege, your philosophy of mind, temporal logics, and identity over time.

Jeff R. said...

What would Steven Pinker say about whether gender is a social construct?

Road to Surf Bum said...

I've spent a little time with Pinker, and know his work well. I believe his response would be detailed and very polite, but boil down to this: "oh hell no".

Tom said...

The glossary say that SEX is "A medical term..." No, it's not. And don't use the word sex in the definition of sex. Also this "Common terms are ... 'intersex'." Just WHERE is that as common term?

Norman said...

You can believe that boys and girls naturally differentiate on average while still thinking it is worth while to avoid assuming the properties which might be true at the mean apply to every member of the population. As Hayek might say, sorting all individuals into male or female gender only, based solely on natural sex, is too much aggregation!

Pelsmin said...

This is how societies need to organize themselves to function. You adopt certain norms, based on the prevailing reality in the population, and bake them into your culture and your acceptable behaviors. Boys act a certain way. Girls act another way. There's lots of overlap, but plenty of difference.
In a true civil society, anyone who diverges from the norm in a non-harmful way (abnormal) is treated with respect and dignity. You're a little boy who plays with dolls? You're a girl who is attracted to other girls? That's not "normal" but it's not bad. Live and let live.
If you diverge from the norm in a harmful way (you settle all disagreements via murder) you are punished and separated from society.
But you still need these somewhat arbitrary norms to have a functioning society. We have 10,000 years of development indicating the value of societal norms and not too much of that time has included today's tolerance of non-harmful divergence from the norm.

Dr. Tufte said...

Playing the devil's advocate here; Munger wrote "I really think that any parent who has been around little boys and little girls will have some doubts about the claim that gender roles are 100% socially constructed."

Perhaps we are not paying enough attention to whether the people who think gender roles are socially constructed don't seem to actually spend much time around small children where they might find out otherwise.