The Concept of Sex and Gender: Why being categorized comes naturally to us

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For the Christmas Eve, the tree is always very well decorated; the lights and candles adorn the house and its celebrations everywhere. Since my childhood, I was certain that Santa was real, because till I was fifteen he fulfilled all my wishes. The gifts I longed for were kept under my pillow. My cupboard is filled with the toys and books that Santa gave me. But I fail to understand since 16 he didn’t reply to my wishes. Yes, I grew up, but I still wrote to Santa. Was it that he stopped listening or got angry with my demands just like my parents did? On my 16th Christmas, I didn’t ask for my favorite book, but to celebrate the New Years Eve at my friends’ place. My heart sinks as I entered womanhood, realizing Santa is unreal, but we all are captivated by its fantasies. My heart equally sinks when I realize that gender too is unreal, but we all are captivated by its chains.

url-2The annual carnival began at 6, but I have to be home by 7 so that it doesn’t get dark. The annual carnival ends at 12 a.m., but my brother is home by 1 at midnight. We are twins, but there is always  a line drawn between both of us restricting freedom. We came out from the same womb, and almost at the same time, but since our birth nothing remained the same for us. Indeed, we were physically distinct because he was a boy and I was a girl. Tracing where the line has been drawn between men and women is a deep mystery within itself. Undoubtedly, two sexes were created naturally as male and female and were visibly distinct. Sexes owe origin to biological differences that are present, where both are endowed with different organs and functions to perform. The growth of the human race is not possible to single-handedly on one sex and mutual interdependency has been flourishing since the very existence of human beings. Men and women are different and will be different. But I wonder what gave room to inequality and rise of domination of one over other. My sex was determined by my birth, but my choices were molded as I grew.

Sexes are a biological construct, but the cause of division, domination and suppression that differentiate me from my brother is a societal construct.

My brother was seen to protect me while we went into the park to play while I was the one to make the orange juice for both of us, as we returned home. When I wondered why, mother introduced me to the concept, “Brother is a boy.” I knew that brother is a boy, but so what, I am a girl. However, it took me a few more years, few more incidents to understand; brother is a boy, with masculine traits linked to courage, vigor, aggression, boldness, and valor. While I am a girl, with feminine features viewed as shy, soft, caring, sensitive and physically weak.

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Thus, the distinctions amongst men and women turned into inequality as a sociocultural phenomenon. Gender identity emerged as a concept where men identified themselves according to masculine characteristics and women related themselves to womanly or feminine traits. It was the societal evolution that left biological differences far behind and social differences became the mainstream concept differentiating males and females.

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Evolution of society sowed seeds of inequality where women became the weaker sex and men the dominating, stronger one.  Sex is a biological distinction based upon physical differences. Gender, on the other hand, is multidimensional because it is dependent upon cultural norms and hence, varies across time, place and circumstances. Sex and Gender have often been mixed or considered as one. But their origin, as well as their inherent roles in the evolution of human beings is radically different. The concept of the two sexes, men and women came first and essentially highlighted the need and inter-dependency of both the sexes for the human race to flourish. Gender evolved gradually and became an extremely powerful concept in drawing a rigid line between the two. The relationship of mutual dependence transformed into that of domination and control, thus replacing a different and diverse society to an unequal and divided one.

Are we ready to forget the differentiation that we have put ourselves in, or are we ready to observe them, comprehend them and break free from them?

Let us show you the way…

About Kratika Sharma

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