#1276  
Old 02-22-2012, 10:41 PM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
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No, that's the thing. It doesn't depend on being othered or not fitting or anything.

If you surgically alter an XY kid to be "female" and use hormones and raise them as female and NO ONE ever knows otherwise? They are still massively more likely than not to either "become male" or die.
They are not presenting as their self identified gender. Society treats them as someone they aren't. That is as othered as you can get
Well, that's the thing, though. If there were no biological reality to sense of self-as-male, if it were a thing that came from socialization or awareness of body type, they would self-identify as girls. That they instead self-identify as boys, despite complete uniformity of all available data pointing to them being girls, tells us that there is a sense-of-self thing that associates self with gender regardless of anything anyone says or does.

And that's why all the claims that gender identity is purely a result of being socialized are nonsense.

And yes, it's still somewhat common nonsense.
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  #1277  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

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It is a firm sense of what it should be like to be human, where you should have innies and where you should have outies. It also comes with the sense that if there are rules for "male" and rules for "female", you should be under one of those sets of rules.
And where do trans people feel those rules and shoulds come from?
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  #1278  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
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It is a firm sense of what it should be like to be human, where you should have innies and where you should have outies. It also comes with the sense that if there are rules for "male" and rules for "female", you should be under one of those sets of rules.
And where do trans people feel those rules and shoulds come from?
Those rules are part of your culture. Same place everyone else gets their shoulds and shouldn'ts, really.

Again, I'm not disputing that.

1. Most humans have an innate sense of whether they are "male" or "female". Not definitions of masculine and feminine, just a sense that "I'm male" or "I'm female".
2. This sense appears to be biologically innate, but is not necessarily correlated with genitalia.
3. Goffman, like many other people reporting on gender, believes that there is not any innate sense of whether one is "male" or "female", but that you learn this from being told it, and that if people had consistently given you the other answer, you would have the other identity.

The belief that gender is purely a social construct, that there is no such thing as self-identifying as "male" or "female" except in terms of your relationship with your culture's standards of masculine and feminine, is very widespread (even today, you see it), and it has been proven wrong. Your culture will typically affect how you express that sense of identity, but the sense of identity exists.

Goffman's distinction between "social constructs" and "biological form" presupposes that the sex aspect of the body is the only part of the body that can be meaningfully called male or female in the absence of social constructs. That turns out not to be true; brains can self-identify as male or female in a way which is not affected by social constructs or by genitalia. Social constructs can affect the expression of this thing, but not the underlying experience.

It's somewhat analogous to the way sexual orientation happens. We have gradually learned that there is Something In The Brain which knows whether men, women, both, or neither are sexually attractive. You don't get trained to view men as attractive or women as attractive; your brain comes pre-wired to do that.

Now, social conditioning can influence the expression. I might think a woman in heavy clothes with just an ankle showing looks prudish, someone else might think it scandalous. But it can't, for the vast majority of people, change whether it's men or women that you are attracted to.

The sense of self-identity works the same way. There's an underlying setting for whether you think of yourself as male, female, neither, or Something Else. Not everyone has this strongly, just as not everyone has a very clear or strong sexual orientation. But it can exist, and when it does, social conditioning can change how it expresses, but can't change whether or not it's there, or what the answer is.
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  #1279  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:31 PM
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Okay let me ask it this way.

If it was purely biological matter, and one's self identified gender did not match their sex, it would be merely a medical problem to be addressed. I even stated this exact thing previously

But, as you have stated several times, transgendered people have a need to be perceived by others as their self identified gender. That is gender presentation or gender display. To be perceived by others as your gender you must display or present as your gender according to the cultural norms of your society.

There is no denying gender in what I am saying. There is no denial that individual's identify themselves as one or the other gender. All I am saying is that society dictates what it takes to be perceived by others as one or the other gender and what it means to other people to be one or the other. That is a social construct.
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
Okay let me ask it this way.

If it was purely biological matter, and one's self identified gender did not match their sex, it would be merely a medical problem to be addressed. I even stated this exact thing previously

But, as you have stated several times, transgendered people have a need to be perceived by others as their self identified gender. That is gender presentation or gender display. To be perceived by others as your gender you must display or present as your gender according to the cultural norms of your society.

There is no denying gender in what I am saying. There is no denial that individual's identify themselves as one or the other gender. All I am saying is that society dictates what it takes to be perceived by others as one or the other gender and what it means to other people to be one or the other. That is a social construct.
Right. On this, we are in full agreement.

A while back, you stated that no one was denying the reality of gender identity. My point, which I stand by, is that Goffman's claims as quoted by Jhalla are absolutely a denial that gender identity has any existence except as the set of outward social norms.

He's not saying "let us talk about these here social norms", he is saying "there is no such thing as gender identity except as a learned social construct".

And a lot of people still say that, but it's not true.

The way in which people express their need to be recognized as male or female is socially determined, but the underlying emotional need is not. It's not learned, it's not socialized-in, it's not a result of any social thing. It's in the biology.

Jhalla's descriptions presuppose that the only "in the biology" that exists is the genitalia and sex organs; that the cognitive experience of gender is 100% learned. He states that gender is assigned from outside and learned and that is where people get it; that without that imposed structure, no one would have the sense of themselves as "male" or "female".
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  #1281  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Society dictates what traits and characteristics are considered to belong to the male or female categories. If there was no constructed set of female traits or no constructed set of male traits then there would be no gender, only biological sex because there would be nothing to attach "female" or "male" to other than sex organs. Somebody could certainly be hardwired to feel they should have a different biological sex than they were born with and address that without worrying about presentation.

Nobody is telling the individual you are a male or you are a female. They are telling all people "this is the set of characteristics that equal female and this is the set of characteristics that equal male"
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  #1282  
Old 02-22-2012, 11:40 PM
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Goffman, like many other people reporting on gender, believes that there is not any innate sense of whether one is "male" or "female", but that you learn this from being told it, and that if people had consistently given you the other answer, you would have the other identity.
Society dictates what traits and characteristics are considered to belong to the male or female categories. If there was no constructed set of female traits or no constructed set of male traits then there would be no gender, only biological sex.
There are two biological things:
1. Genitalia.
2. The part of the brain that forms sense-of-self.

Those two things can mismatch in the absence of any societal categorizations. If the brain thinks "I am male" and there is no wee-wee, the brain is upset that the body is incorrect. If the brain thinks "I am female" and there is a wee-wee, the brain is upset that the body is incorrect.

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Nobody is telling the individual you are a male or you are a female.
Jhalla's claim: If no one told the individual that they were male or female, they would have only sex (genitalia).
Reality: People have both sex (genitalia) and gender (sense of which genitalia-and-body-type they should have).

Jhalla's ignoring the brain part of the biological self.
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  #1283  
Old 02-23-2012, 12:11 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

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A while back, you stated that no one was denying the reality of gender identity. My point, which I stand by, is that Goffman's claims as quoted by Jhalla are absolutely a denial that gender identity has any existence except as the set of outward social norms.

He's not saying "let us talk about these here social norms", he is saying "there is no such thing as gender identity except as a learned social construct".

And a lot of people still say that, but it's not true.
I'm wondering if this might be a simple case of ambiguous/sloppy writing and thinking. I can't speak for Goffman, but certainly in light of all the facts we have now it would be an obvious error to say "there is no such thing as gender self-identity outside the cultural construct." Rather, it would be more accurate to say "there is no set of rules by which one communicates gender identity outside the cultural construct." I don't think anyone in the thread is disputing that people self-identify gender, and that this is at least partly innate. I'm uncertain that Goffman was actually disputing that, despite the wording of those excerpts, though I think it's possible. As you say, it was a popular idea among social researchers in the 70s.

It is difficult to imagine a sexual species developing a culture that had no rules for communicating gender identity, but the thing that I think is trying to be conveyed by Goffman and by Jhalla, the thing I got out of the video, is simply that these rules are essentially entirely arbitrary. Not that gender is arbitrary, but that the rules for communicating it are. That's what I got out of it, anyway. That may simply be because I filtered what Goffman was saying through what I already know about gender and gender identity, both self- and cultural, and so read his comments as sweeping generalizations not meant to be taken literally.
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  #1284  
Old 02-23-2012, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Kael View Post
I'm wondering if this might be a simple case of ambiguous/sloppy writing and thinking. I can't speak for Goffman, but certainly in light of all the facts we have now it would be an obvious error to say "there is no such thing as gender self-identity outside the cultural construct." Rather, it would be more accurate to say "there is no set of rules by which one communicates gender identity outside the cultural construct." I don't think anyone in the thread is disputing that people self-identify gender, and that this is at least partly innate. I'm uncertain that Goffman was actually disputing that, despite the wording of those excerpts, though I think it's possible. As you say, it was a popular idea among social researchers in the 70s.
I think the comment on raising kids with the "wrong" gender (complete with scare quotes) is a very, very strong indicator that the thesis being advanced was that there was no sense of gender identity prior to having one "assigned from the outside". It was a widespread belief at the time, and it fits exactly with everything else being claimed. The view that transgendered people disprove the gender binary is particularly telling; while I do know a couple of genderqueer people, they have in common that they don't care, and thus don't tend to identify strongly. Which is to say, they aren't the sorts of people who were identified as transgendered back then.

Back then, "transgendered" people were the ones who had a very strong and clear identification of gender which didn't match their observable biological type. And yet, this was taken as evidence against innate gender, because the assumption in place was that gender was a cognitive trait, not a physical trait, and that the only physical trait on offer was sexual characteristics.

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It is difficult to imagine a sexual species developing a culture that had no rules for communicating gender identity, but the thing that I think is trying to be conveyed by Goffman and by Jhalla, the thing I got out of the video, is simply that these rules are essentially entirely arbitrary. Not that gender is arbitrary, but that the rules for communicating it are. That's what I got out of it, anyway. That may simply be because I filtered what Goffman was saying through what I already know about gender and gender identity, both self- and cultural, and so read his comments as sweeping generalizations not meant to be taken literally.
That would be my basic thesis, yes -- if you come to this knowing what we know now, it is easy to infer our context and common sense. But in 1978? In 1978, the claim that there is no such thing as gender identity prior to socialization would be a great stepping stone for arguing that the rules are arbitrary. They're arbitrary because they are "rules" for a thing with no basis in nature, that's why!

Only now we've sort of established that the thing does exist. Interestingly, so far as I can tell, the signalling cues remain entirely arbitrary.

And I think most of the video -- all but that handful of paragraphs -- is on how the rules are arbitrary, and also on how they bias our presuppositions.

I think it may have been necessary to go through a stage of assuming that there was no such thing as a biologically-innate sense of gender identity in order to get away from the cultural rules enough to make it possible to observe that even if you ditch those rules, people still have that sense of identity.
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  #1285  
Old 02-23-2012, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Nail on the head, Kael. It is a total miscommunication and seebs needs to either watch the video or read further than the opening statement while examining the images analyzed otherwise there is no point to any of this.

The video is a critique of how social gender norms are portrayed in visual communication and how that can negatively influence perceptions of gender on a societal level. It makes no claims whatsoever on how individual gender identity is created or its causes. None of this has anything whatsoever to with the argument to begin with.

I am so tired of these threads getting derailed just when things start to get interesting with this reinvention of the wheel nonsense. It is tedious.
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  #1286  
Old 02-23-2012, 12:37 AM
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Nail on the head, Kael. It is a total miscommunication and seebs needs to either watch the video or read further than the opening statement [i]while[i] examining the images analyzed otherwise there is no point to any of this.
That is not how communication works. I can't say "there is no such thing as X", and then half an hour later something else I say makes it look like I actually said "there is X, but I'm not talking about it".

Let's look at these words again:
In this way, there is nothing natural or biological about gender or our gender identities. We learn to inhabit the gender category that we have been assigned from outside, from the culture.
You are telling me that the statement "there is nothing natural or biological about gender or our gender identities" does not actually mean any of those words; it means that there is a natural and biological sense of gender, but that its social expression is subject to change. It does not mean that we are assigned a gender identity from the outside, but rather that we have an innate sense of our gender identity, and the outside world shapes how we express it?

Seriously?
There are some interesting cases where individuals born as one sex have been assigned to the “wrong” gender category. That is, someone born with male physical characteristics but assigned to the female gender, and they then grow up as that gender, despite the physical sexual origin.
I read this as saying that if you are assigned as "female", you grow up as "female". You're telling me that actually it has nothing to do with the gender you are assigned, it has nothing to do with how you identify as you grow up?

Your theory is that, decades before the key neuroscience results were in, decades before the experiements of trying to raise kids as different genders had come to adulthood, this guy somehow saw through everything that was on offer, and correctly reached a position that many researchers are only now starting to concede, but that by happenstance he phrased it so badly that it happens to coincide precisely with what everyone else at the time of writing believed?

I do not buy this theory.

And I'm sorry if this seems like a derail, and if it needs to be split off, that's fine with me, but really, when you point to a thing which contains the sequence of words "there is nothing natural about gender or our gender identities", written at a time when people writing in the field had reached the conclusion that gender was purely a social construct and there was no innate sense of self involved, and then insist that it does not in any way even hint at the notion that gender identity is not a natural and real thing, that is gonna raise red flags.
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  #1287  
Old 02-23-2012, 12:58 AM
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I'm feeling like ass today, so I'm probably being more of one than usual.

Thing is:

Even now, many people genuinely, firmly, believe that there is no such thing as biological wiring for gender identity in the brain. Look at... was it Ermintrude? We had a poster here for a while who was absolutely convinced that the only reason gender dysphoria existed was that people had interests in hobbies or activities that contradicted social expectations for a given gender.

The video's focus is on the rules of expression, but again, many people still believe, even now, that that is all gender identity has ever been. It is massively anachronistic to ascribe a modern neuroscience view to material that's citing back to work from the 70s. It's like claiming that Greek philosophers didn't really think atoms were indivisible, they just thought atoms were the smallest size that had their special chemical or physical properties. No, they didn't.

People really did believe that discovering that gender rules were arbitrary meant that there was no such thing as maleness or femaleness outside of either sexual biology or culture. The idea that culture could have a sense of these things which was arbitrary was a big major insight, and it was big news, and it was pretty much universally believed either that this claim was wrong and the rules were actually inherent, or that this claim proved that gender identity had always been hallucinatory.

The middle-ground claim, that there was some kind of biological meaning to the labels for most people, but that the social rules were arbitrary, is simply anachronistic for something citing back to arguments made in 1978. Jhally, today, might well feel that way, but when he talks about Goffman's arguments from the 1978 publication, those arguments can't possibly have been meant that way. The technology wasn't there.

The first MRI, ever, of a human being was in 1977. We did not have detailed schematics of human brains and a good understanding of neural differentiation back then. It wasn't possible to have the modern view.
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  #1288  
Old 02-23-2012, 01:06 AM
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Do not presume to tell me what my theory is when you have not bothered to read what I have previously written and instead just make it up as you go along, seebs.

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I think the video does make some oversimplifications when citing Goffman's work. I would agree that in some of those statements there is an element of cis-privilege taking place especially in terms of gender identity. This is because, in large part he is addressing the cis community rather than trans, who are already perfectly aware that physiological sex does not always correlate with gender. The cis community is his audience and that is important to what he is communicating.

However, Jhally does discuss the trans community in order to exhibit that despite societal pressures and policing on gender roles, they as outliers show that something else is going on and that gender CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be applied from the outside, even though those pressures exist. That is the main thesis of his argument, regardless of how he chooses to support it and to ignore that is to be uncharitable to the work he is attempting. Indeed, in the very beginning he addresses the dangers of social gender assignment as it relates to hate crimes against trans people
His argument has nothing to do with the origins of individualized gender identity. That is a completely different type of study and analysis than the rhetorical analysis that he is undertaking. His study is addressing how societal perceptions of femininity and masculinity are coded in communications, specifically advertising. You have taken a single statement, isolated it from the rest of the actual thesis of his lengthy argument, and are beating it to death out of context.

That is tedious. Especially considering that when placed in context he is critiquing how the societal constructs of gender norms are what are actually artificial, NOT individualized gender identities.

But it is pointless to attempt to discuss these issues with you as you frequently ignore what I write, jump to conclusions about what I think, and tunnel vision on small details which blind you to the rest of what I am actually talking about. I swear, you are becoming the mick of gender threads.
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  #1289  
Old 02-23-2012, 01:17 AM
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Do not presume to tell me what my theory is when you have not bothered to read what I have previously written and instead just make it up as you go along, seebs.
Sorry. I am finding this maddening because I have very simple direct declarative statements which have a clear meaning, and apparently there's some reason for which I am wrong to think they mean that.

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His argument has nothing to do with the origins of individualized gender identity.
And yet, nonetheless, he makes an absolutely clear and direct claim about those origins. It may be irrelevant to his argument, but it changes what his argument claims to be about.

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You have taken a single statement, isolated it from the rest of the actual thesis of his lengthy argument, and are beating it to death out of context.
It's not a single statement, it's several statements. And the thing is... It is the context. This statement is the context in which the argument is presented. That's why it's right up front at the beginning of the piece. This is not a small comment halfway through an argument on another topic; this is the statement of the context in which the argument is to be understood.

He starts with the claims: Gender identity is not innate, it is learned. There is no natural gender identity. Gender identity is given to you from outside yourself.

Quote:
That is tedious. Especially considering that when placed in context he is critiquing how the societal constructs of gender norms are what are actually artificial, NOT individualized gender identities.
Except this distinction between societal gender norms and individualized gender identities never seems to get referrred to, possibly because the central thesis is that individualized gender identities are assigned "from outside".

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But it is pointless to attempt to discuss these issues with you as you frequently ignore what I write, jump to conclusions about what I think, and tunnel vision on small details which blind you to the rest of what I am actually talking about. I swear, you are becoming the mick of gender threads.
I'm really trying not to ignore what you write, but...

The fact is, Goffman wrote in 1978, and it is not possible for those distinctions to have been intended with what was known about human cognition in 1978. Can't be done. We didn't have the material.

Hmm.

Observation: Yes, I'm obsessing on a small detail. I do that. I obsess over details which are incorrect, because incorrect details are wrong. But I don't really care about them all that much. What I care about is if something is clearly present, and people tell me it's not, because then I have a parser error, and I can't continue until I can find out why either I or someone else has misunderstood the material.

If someone were to say "yes, Goffman probably held the same exact beliefs as every single progressive-minded gender theorist in the world in the 1970s, and thought that gender identity was purely a social construct assigned to people, but that turns out not to matter because his analysis really doesn't care about innate sense of self, only about the rules by which people present to other people", I would agree with that, and be fascinated by his analysis.

But if the initial intro to the piece has what seems to me to be a series of absolutely clear claims that there is no such thing as gender identity, and then people tell me that actually every one of these claims does not mean what a face-value reading would say, but instead means something that's twenty years anachronistic for Goffman's 1978, then I can't go past that until I can understand how we are reading the same words so very very differently.

In short, so far as I can tell, all the discussion of gender roles and how society manages them is spot on. However, very early on there's an offhand assertion that these gender roles are all there is, and there is no natural sense of gender identity outside the way people are assigned to gender roles.
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  #1290  
Old 02-23-2012, 01:18 AM
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Hmm. To simplify:

Goffman believed that most humans had an innate, biological, sense of themselves as "male" or "female" which found expression in cultural norms, but which preexisted those norms. Yes/No?

If Yes, how the hell did he beat everyone else to this by twenty years without any access to modern neuroscience?
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:24 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Observation and comparison of cultural identification of gender markings in different cultures.

You know what else is culturally defined? Time.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Qingdai View Post
Observation and comparison of cultural identification of gender markings in different cultures.
That was how people were just starting to realize that gender-identifying traits were pretty much purely arbitrary. That doesn't get us to the notion that people may have an inate identity which is not culturally defined, but which is expressed in a way defined by culture. The 1970s (and 1980s, so far as I know) were a time when the conventional wisdom among progressives was that you could impose gender identity on kids and they would grow up with the identity you gave them, because gender identity was learned, and the conservatives were arguing that the whole thing was inate including what kinds of things were characteristically male or female.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:39 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

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The video's focus is on the rules of expression, but again, many people still believe, even now, that that is all gender identity has ever been. It is massively anachronistic to ascribe a modern neuroscience view to material that's citing back to work from the 70s. It's like claiming that Greek philosophers didn't really think atoms were indivisible, they just thought atoms were the smallest size that had their special chemical or physical properties. No, they didn't.
No one at all was discussing neuroscience. These authors do not study neuroscience. They are discussing sociological constructs. What is actually going on is a miscommunication in disciplines.

It is like someone citing a Literature professor making a Freudian analysis of an archetype and then using it to prescribe medication. It is like someone citing a Marxist reading of The Wizard of Oz and trying to apply that to Economic Theory. One of these things is not like the other.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Demimonde View Post
No one at all was discussing neuroscience.
Now I am even more confused.

My original belief was that Goffman was making the claim that there was no such thing as an innate gender identity, but rather, that people acquired whatever gender identity they were assigned from outside. For instance:
There are some interesting cases where individuals born as one sex have been assigned to the “wrong” gender category. That is, someone born with male physical characteristics but assigned to the female gender, and they then grow up as that gender, despite the physical sexual origin.
I cannot find any way to interpret this except as part of the continued claim through several paragraphs that there is no innate gender identity; that the sense that one is "male" or "female" comes entirely from being taught.

When I said that this belief was untrue, I was informed that Goffman hadn't made that claim; he had obviously recognized that there was an innate sense of gender, and was talking only about its outward expressions.

This distinction is, so far as I know, anachronistic. It's a claim that was not one of those on offer in 1978, when the idea that gender identity might not be innate, but rather a cultural construct, was a radical new idea that appeared to be the best available explanation for differences in gender roles between societies.

Goffman was writing at a time when this new discovery that gender roles weren't fixed had led people to conclude that you could assign gender to children and they would grow up the gender they were assigned, because we had just figured out that gender roles were learned, and since there wasn't a distinction between social gender roles, and personal gender identity, on offer, it was assumed that gender identity was also learned, and that there was no innate sense of the same.

This led people to make claims such as "In this way, there is nothing natural or biological about gender or our gender identities."

That is not a claim that the societal expression of gender is arbitrary rather than biological; it is a claim that gender itself is not natural or biological.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:52 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

He is not talking about an individual acquiring gender identity, he is talking about cultural signifiers of of gender identity.

Can't see the forest for the trees.
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Qingdai View Post
He is not talking about an individual acquiring gender identity, he is talking about cultural signifiers of of gender identity.
How do you figure? Here are the words I'm looking at:
There are some interesting cases where individuals born as one sex have been assigned to the “wrong” gender category. That is, someone born with male physical characteristics but assigned to the female gender, and they then grow up as that gender, despite the physical sexual origin.
This is explicitly, specifically, about how an individual gets gender identity. The word "individuals" is used because he is making a claim that individuals who are "assigned to" the female gender then "grow up as that gender".

Again, the rest of the piece then talks about cultural signifiers, but the foundational premise is that individual gender identity is acquired by being "assigned". It comes from outside; it is not natural or biological.

I'm not saying the whole piece is about individual gender identity, since it's obviously not, but the introduction to the concept of gender is rooted in the premise that gender identity is not a natural or biological thing, but a thing assigned to you by other people.

I know, sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees. Sometimes other people can't see the trees for the forest; there's an overall thing which reconciles well if you interpret it a given way, so that is how it is intepreted and details which contradict this get swept under the rug.
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Old 02-23-2012, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Part of the problem seebs is that I think you and the video are using different definitions for sex and gender. You quoted this from the transcript earlier:
Quote:
Sex refers to our different biological characteristics as we come out of the womb. Gender refers to the way those differences are made sense of within culture – in most cultures, by assigning it to one of two categories: male or female.
The way they are using gender is entirely cultural. So I would read what your talking about to be part of the "biological characteristics" that make up a person's sex. (biological characteristics need not be purely physical, right?)
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Crumb View Post
Part of the problem seebs is that I think you and the video are using different definitions for sex and gender. You quoted this from the transcript earlier:
Quote:
Sex refers to our different biological characteristics as we come out of the womb. Gender refers to the way those differences are made sense of within culture – in most cultures, by assigning it to one of two categories: male or female.
The way they are using gender is entirely cultural. So I would read what your talking about to be part of the "biological characteristics" that make up a person's sex. (biological characteristics need not be purely physical, right?)
Interesting! Yes, I think that's very close to exactly the point of dispute.

The key is: That dichotomy, between purely biological sex and purely social gender, presupposes that the cognitive experience is purely social.

That is how people write when they are assuming that the biological aspect is genitalia and hormones, and the sense of identity is purely a learned cognitive thing.

That is not a mere definition of a term; it is the assertion that the cognitive experience of gender identity is purely a result of socialization -- that "gender" is purely a social construct. Because that was, when Goffman was writing the original book in 1978, the Big New Realization, that the sense of what it means to be male or female was not really innate after all.

The assumption that was, so far as I know, completely universal at the time was that this mean that the experience of thinking of self as male or female was not innate -- it was part of the learned social identity.

This is why it's the late half of the 20th century where you see a surge of doctors trying to "fix" gender assignments in infants, and it's only very recently that standards of care have been updated to say "actually, wait until the kid tells you". Because until we'd had a number of kids with their gender assignment "corrected" by doctors grow up and turn out to have very strong feelings that contradicted both their body type and everything everyone had ever told them, it had been assumed that there was no way for the conscious self to have an opinion on the issue that wasn't learned.

See, as a rough starting point:

What's wrong with the way intersex has traditionally been treated? | Intersex Society of North America

In the 1970s, the fungibility of cultural gender norms was generally viewed as complete vindication for the belief that there were only two components to human sexual identity; biological sex and that you were raised as. So doctors thought the best thing to do with a kid with ambiguous genitalia would be to pick the best answer and raise the kid that way because then they'd grow up an ordinary boy-or-girl.

In fact, it turns out that this doesn't work -- but it's hard for me to believe, given that pediatricians have just started widely acknowledging this and updating standards of care in the last decade, that someone in 1978 would have known it.

The straightforward reading of the paragraph about the assignment of the "wrong" gender to individuals, resulting in them growing up that gender, is that it is about the choice of parents or doctors to pick a gender for a kid and asserts that the kid ends up with that gender. It is hard to imagine finding someone who was current on the literature in 1978 not believing that. Similarly, the straightforward reading of the claim that there is nothing natural or biological about gender or gender identity, and gender is purely a social construct, is exactly what people current in the field believed then: There were only biological sex and learned gender.

Since then, experiences with gender assignment, especially in intersex kids, have made it clear that there are both biologically-innate and learned genders, and that people whose innate gender contradicts their learned gender will generally notice it and fix it.

But I have seen no evidence that anyone knew that in 1978. The positions people held then were either that gender identity and roles were an innate sense, or that gender identity and roles were a learned thing. The idea that identity could be biologically innate in some or most people, while the roles could be cultural, was anachronistic.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:35 AM
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I guess the reason I'm upset here is that this is rewriting history.

Here's some history to chew on:

What's the history behind the intersex rights movement? | Intersex Society of North America

Originally, people believed that "male" and "female" were physical characteristics which obviously implied cognitive nature. If you had a wee-wee, you naturally had the traits which we regarded as masculine.

In the 20th century, this was gradually recognized not to be the case; you could have a wee-wee and have feminine traits. Similarly, doctors started encountering intersex people and reporting them with enough frequency to realize that this was A Thing.

So from the 1950s on, we saw attempts to resolve this, and the obvious conclusion was that there were two things:

1. Physical sex -- genitalia, chromosomes, things like that. This is inborn.
2. Cognitive traits, now called "gender". This is acquired from your society.

The standards of care developed for intersex people in the 1950s presupposed that gender was purely a learned trait. You might have innate traits, but they weren't gendered until they encountered society. You might innately like to do mechanical work; if you liked mechanical work, and were in a society that viewed it as masculine, you would tend to identify as male.

So we had this notion that gender identity came from matching your own traits, which had no gender to them, to society's gender roles.

The concept of an innate sense of gender is, so far as I know, simply not in any of the literature prior to the 1990s or 2000s. What happened was that we started accumulating data on what actually happened to intersex kids raised according to the Hopkins care standards from the 1950s. And what happened was disasterous.

Here's some specific information:

Reiner & Gearhart's NEJM Study on Cloacal Exstrophy - Review by Vernon Rosario, M.D., Ph.D. | Intersex Society of North America

Now, look at the dates. The big clear research showing that you can't simply assign kids a gender and have them be cognitively of that gender? Published in 2004. The study of this wasn't particularly active until the 1990s.

Claiming that someone writing in 1978 was aware of the distinction between innate biological gender identity, and socially constructed identity, is highly anachronistic. When applied to the claim that "There is nothing natural or biological about gender or our gender identities", it is simply ludicrous. It's rewriting history. When that was written, the only people advocating for innate sense of gender were people who believed it to be uniformly identical to physical sex, and whose models couldn't even begin to account for intersexed people.

At the time that Goffman was writing, the best available explanation of transgendered people was that they had traits with no intrinsic male/female associations, but which their society assigned to the other gender. The idea that there could be a sense of gender that was not a result of combining genderless traits and societal gender roles was, so far as I can tell, nonexistant.

I will happily concede this point if you can show me scientific publications prior to 1980 which distinguish between sex, innate gender, and societal gender roles.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:08 PM
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Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by seebs View Post
There are two biological things:
1. Genitalia.
2. The part of the brain that forms sense-of-self.

Those two things can mismatch in the absence of any societal categorizations. If the brain thinks "I am male" and there is no wee-wee, the brain is upset that the body is incorrect. If the brain thinks "I am female" and there is a wee-wee, the brain is upset that the body is incorrect.
Agreed. I even stated that.


Quote:
Jhalla's claim: If no one told the individual that they were male or female, they would have only sex (genitalia).
Reality: People have both sex (genitalia) and gender (sense of which genitalia-and-body-type they should have).

Jhalla's ignoring the brain part of the biological self.
You're still not getting what I am saying (and I think what Jhalla was saying). What body type one cognitively feels they should have is still sex, IMO, it's still biological. The brain is part of the body.

When a woman who was born with a penis and male chromosomes says "I am a woman" does she mean only "I shouldn't have a penis and I should have breasts" or does she mean "I possess this set of characteristics and traits that define the category women and therefore I am a woman"? Or both? Is it a statement of what she is or what she isn't? Is "I am a woman" synonymous with "I am not a man"?

If she is saying "I possess this set of characteristics and traits of women" That's gender.

When she says "I shouldn't have a penis (nor body hair, nor a deep voice, etc.)" that is sex, not gender.

The characteristics and traits that constitute gender, rather than the physical attributes that constitute sex, are culturally derived.

I feel there is a lot more in the seemingly simple statement "I am a woman" or "I am a man" than physical primary and secondary sex characteristics. And the more is all cultural

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