Is gender a social construct?

Beau

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#1
The question of gender and its meaning in today's world seems to be especially relevant with the political ramifications of the C-16 bill, which adds legal protection for “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal code. Legislation very similar to Bill C-16 has already been passed in New York City. The biggest problem with these laws, as Jordan Peterson has been tirelessly working to point out, is the suppression and control of free speech that they create.

But political issues notwithstanding, there is still the question of how gender work in society and whether it is a biological creation or a creation of society (or a little of both). There are plenty of arguments to be made on both sides. Some people say that it's a cultural creation of society and that depending on the society, you have a binary choice - male or female - while in other cultures you can have multiple genders. For a long time Western society used biology as the way to identify gender, although that is clearly changing with the SJW crowd now demanding more options and forcing the rest of society to comply. For me, using one's biological sex seems to be the simplest and most common sense way to go about understanding gender, but I am willing to hear others out who disagree. I also think there is a lot of confusion being sowed right now about this subject and it would be good to hear if others are feeling the same way or if they agree or disagree with the current transition in the West to accepting more than male or female as genders. Is gender the representation of biology, or as some argue is one's biological sex independent of gender identity and it's actually one's cultural milieu which determines gender?
 

angelburst29

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#2
Beau said:
The question of gender and its meaning in today's world seems to be especially relevant with the political ramifications of the C-16 bill, which adds legal protection for “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal code. Legislation very similar to Bill C-16 has already been passed in New York City. The biggest problem with these laws, as Jordan Peterson has been tirelessly working to point out, is the suppression and control of free speech that they create.

But political issues notwithstanding, there is still the question of how gender work in society and whether it is a biological creation or a creation of society (or a little of both). There are plenty of arguments to be made on both sides. Some people say that it's a cultural creation of society and that depending on the society, you have a binary choice - male or female - while in other cultures you can have multiple genders. For a long time Western society used biology as the way to identify gender, although that is clearly changing with the SJW crowd now demanding more options and forcing the rest of society to comply. For me, using one's biological sex seems to be the simplest and most common sense way to go about understanding gender, but I am willing to hear others out who disagree. I also think there is a lot of confusion being sowed right now about this subject and it would be good to hear if others are feeling the same way or if they agree or disagree with the current transition in the West to accepting more than male or female as genders. Is gender the representation of biology, or as some argue is one's biological sex independent of gender identity and it's actually one's cultural milieu which determines gender?
Is gender a social construct?

To me, it sounds like a hypothetical question - much in line with, "What came first - the chicken or the egg?" My first reaction is that gender is a biological creation and that cultural and society were built around the roles of male and female? In physical and biological terms, so far, only the female can give natural birth and it follows down to the animal kingdom. The male does contribute half of the equation in producing offspring but physically, male body structure does not contain the attributes of a womb and biological chemistry to develop and deliver an offspring. Males do tend to be stronger, physically and have a higher ratio of endurance under pressure constructs. Females tend to be the weaker sex, yet is off set, by nurturing qualities and organizational skills.

There's also suggestions that males and females have different molecular brain chemistry?

Female and Male Brains Operate Differently at Molecular Level, New Study Reveals
http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/neuroscience/science-female-male-brains-molecular-level-03125.html

A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has revealed an intrinsic biological difference between males and females in the molecular regulation of synapses in the hippocampus. This provides a reason to believe that female and male brains may respond differently to drugs targeting certain synaptic pathways.


Male brains have more connections within hemispheres to optimize motor skills, whereas female brains are more connected between hemispheres to combine analytical and intuitive thinking.
How Men's Brains Are Wired Differently than Women's
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-mens-brains-are-wired-differently-than-women/

The research, which involved imaging the brains of nearly 1,000 adolescents, found that male brains had more connections within hemispheres, whereas female brains were more connected between hemispheres. The results, which apply to the population as a whole and not individuals, suggest that male brains may be optimized for motor skills, and female brains may be optimized for combining analytical and intuitive thinking.

"On average, men connect front to back [parts of the brain] more strongly than women," whereas "women have stronger connections left to right," said study leader Ragini Verma, an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. But Verma cautioned against making sweeping generalizations about men and women based on the results.

Previous studies have found behavioral differences between men and women. For example, women may have better verbal memory and social cognition, whereas men may have better motor and spatial skills, on average. Brain imaging studies have shown that women have a higher percentage of gray matter, the computational tissue of the brain, while men have a higher percentage of white matter, the connective cables of the brain. But few studies have shown that men's and women's brains are connected differently.

In the study, researchers scanned the brains of 949 young people ages 8 to 22 (428 males and 521 females), using a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) known as diffusion tensor imaging, which maps the diffusion of water molecules within brain tissue. The researchers analyzed the participants as a single group, and as three separate groups split up by age.

As a whole, the young men had stronger connections within cerebral hemispheres while the young women had stronger connections between hemispheres, the study, detailed today (Dec. 2) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found. However, the cerebellum, a part of the brain below the cerebrum that plays a role in coordinating muscle movement, showed the opposite pattern, with males having stronger connections between hemispheres.

Roughly speaking, the back of the brain handles perception and the front of the brain handles action; the left hemisphere of the brain is the seat of logical thinking, while the right side of the brain begets intuitive thinking. The findings lend support to the view that males may excel at motor skills, while women may be better at integrating analysis and intuitive thinking.

"It is fascinating that we can see some of functional differences in men and women structurally," Verma told LiveScience. However, the results do not apply to individual men and women, she said. "Every individual could have part of both men and women in them," she said, referring to the connectivity patterns her team observed.

When the researchers compared the young people by age group, they saw the most pronounced brain differences among adolescents (13.4 to 17 years old), suggesting the sexes begin to diverge in the teen years. Males and females showed the greatest differences in inter-hemisphere brain connectivity during this time, with females having more connections between hemispheres primarily in the frontal lobe. These differences got smaller with age, with older females showing more widely distributed connections throughout the brain rather than just in the frontal lobe.

Currently, scientists can't quantify how much an individual has male- or female-like patterns of brain connectivity. Another lingering question is whether the structural differences result in differences in brain function, or whether differences in function result in structural changes.


A biologist remarks on the extraordinary similarity of male and female brains despite the persistence of binary behavioral styles
Is the Brain Gendered? A Q&A with Harvard's Catherine Dulac
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/is-the-brain-gendereda-q-a-with-harvard-s-catherine-dulac/

[...] Can you tell me a little bit about your work of the last few years that relates to gender identification?

One characteristic of social behavior that is absolutely fundamental is that males and females in all animal species behave differently when they encounter a given social signal. So, for example, if one observes parental behavior, in many species females are spontaneously maternal: they will nurse and take care of infants, in contrast to males, which in most species are infanticidal, meaning they will just attack infants when they enter a social group that is not their own. In turn, males in many species become paternal once they sire their own offspring.

So why is that? What underlies these sex differences in behavior? Do males and females detect various stimuli in different ways or do they detect the same stimulus but then have a different neural processing of social signals in the brain. To understand social behavior in mechanistic terms, it is absolutely essential to understand how different the male and female brains are. That question has occupied us a lot recently, and we came across some initial answers that are extremely interesting and surprising.

Indeed, it is assumed that the male and the female brains are very different because males and female behaviors differ so significantly. But over the last few decades, neuroscientists have been looking for major anatomical differences and did not find that many. Actually, they've found surprisingly few differences: more neurons or more neuronal spines here and there in one sex or the other, with great variations from one individual to the other but that’s about it. So there is a paradox between this apparent similarity of the brains of males and females and the strikingly different behaviors they engage in.

We've been looking at this paradox and I think we've found some very intriguing ideas —that there are few dedicated parts of the brain that are different between males and females, but most of the brain, including key areas engaged in the control of social behaviors, are likely to be very similar.
So, for example, we discovered a set of neurons in mice that control maternal behavior and these neurons are also found in male brains although males are not spontaneously paternal. However, if these neurons are specifically activated in males, they become as parental as mom can be.

Has there been any change in existing hypotheses about what gender is?

To a large extent yes. There was really an assumption that from birth animals, including humans, are already set in having neuronal circuits that are established as either male or female. As it turns out, we don’t think this is the case. We think that, to a large extent, both males and females have both male-and-female neuronal circuits, but these circuits are regulated in a sex-specific way, which provides some important behavioral flexibility.

Our finding is not revolutionary in any way. Ethologists—people who were studying animal behaviors in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s —had observed that both males and females could occasionally display the behavior of the other sex. At that time they were obviously surprised. But then there followed a phase when things became more black and white—and it was thought that your brain is built as either male or female and all that is under the very early control of steroid hormones.

[...] What are some of the overarching questions you'd still like to answer based on what you've found?

I would say that we've moved through a couple of steps, but what lies ahead is really an understanding of how behavior is controlled in a mechanistic way. What does control mean? How does the brain engage in the different steps constituting parental or mating behavior? What are the different components of how these behaviors are executed and regulated? Why are these same neurons active in females and not in males in certain physiological circumstances, but that difference disappears in other physiological circumstances?

Also, how does the environment affect the function of neuronal circuits? All of this has a lot of implications, not only to understand how behavior works in terms of neurons and molecules but also for potential ways to understand and potentially cure mental disorders. Social behaviors are profoundly affected in mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, autism etc. Parenting behavior, for example, is associated with a very prevalent disorder called postpartum depression. It affects 10 to 20 percent of women and 5 and 10 percent of fathers. If we understand how the control of parenting works, maybe we'll find ideas on how to help such patients.
 

Corvus

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#3
Think the answer to that is rather simple, look in the mirror and your pants and you ll get an answer if gender is biological or social construct.
 

Beorn

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#4
I think gender is the defining of one's biological sex within a society. So it's based on the male, female or neuter categories. The words used to describe gender may be social constructs but they try to define something based on a biological reality.

Gender identity seems to be a strange term to me, and they way they use it fails to take into account the vast repository of behaviours that can be found within being male or female. So wanting to identify with something like a cat, for example, seems quite absurd. Firstly the real cats might be offended ;D, and secondly it's completely divorced from the biological reality that underpins our ideas of gender.

The "gender expression" that goes along with gender identity is really about behaviour. Perhaps from a wider level you can say males tend to do this and females tend to do that but there's going to be some overlap. From an individual perspective it's more about the way one behaves and expresses oneself. I don't see why gender has to be brought into it at all except for political reasons.
 

TranscendEverything

The Force is Strong With This One
#5
Gender dysphoria (as well as the spectrum of homosexual orientations) are directly connected to switching biological sex between reincarnations, combined with difficult experiences in one's developing stages & unresolved past life issues. The exception for this is when an individual is born as a hermaphrodite. A good friend of mine is in the latter category & she chooses primarily to identify as female.

There is also an agenda by the shadow government / Illuminati & their extradimensional STS puppet masters, which is to heavily promote this "issue" for purposes of creating chaos, agitation, masculine & feminine energy imbalance, & division, as a method of psychological warfare. Additionally, there is an esoteric component to this: the current mass social engineering is meant to serve as a tribute to the corrupted image of the Baphomet (which was not originally a "satanic" symbol, though it has been co-opted as such).

Despite all the mass conditioning & programming, people do have free will (even if the vast majority rarely develop the lucidity to utilize it, or choose to utilize it properly, at this point in the timeline) & if they want to accept this phenomenon as a "condition" & all the complications, risks, & inconveniences that accompany the transitioning process.

If people truly want to go for invasive surgery & radically alter their biology largely due to programming that they are not fully aware of... Then let them do it. Violation of free will is extremely unethical, even if the one who interferes believes that they have "good intentions." I am of the perspective that it is much healthier to explore past lives & resolve whatever memories there may be causing the gender dysphoria, as well as experiences from the present life. This perspective cannot be forced on other individuals, merely offered.

Androgyny itself in terms of image & personality is a choice that I consider totally healthy, & one of many ways of balancing one's masculine & feminine energies.
 

Laura

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#6
There was a video posted a couple months back where a Scandinavian guy went on the hunt for the evidence and interviewed researchers. It seems that gender preferences were present in newborns before there was ever a possibility of social influence. When this information was shown to some of the movers and shakers of the Postmodernist "gender fluidity" movement, they simply denied that it was possible. It was an amazing thing to see Dunning-Kruger in action.
 

whitecoast

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#7
Corvinus said:

Think the answer to that is rather simple, look in the mirror and your pants and you ll get an answer if gender is biological or social construct.


I think you are confusing sex and gender. Sex is the biological distinction in anatomy and DNA between male and female specializations, each of which has physical and behavioral differences. Gender is about the behavioral, social, and cultural ways in which differences between the sexes manifest. This can include differences in self-presentation, self-expression, taboos, occupational preferences, and a myriad of consumption habits (many products we consume are "gendered" into a male and female version).

Another term that probably requires definition and clarification is the term "social construct."

Wikipedia has this to say on the social science of social constructionism:
Social constructionism or the social construction of reality (also social concept) is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. The theory centers on the notions that human beings rationalize their experience by creating models of the social world and share and reify these models through language.


So far so good. People don't deal with the world directly but rather with a mental representation of it, which often contains deletions, distortions, and generalizations of information that sometimes don't match up well with the actual world.

A social construct is a model of the world shared between people in a group, which can be conveyed or deliberated over through language. So when we say gender is a social construct, what they're really saying is, "The myriad ways in which people behaviorally manifest their sex is controlled/influenced/circumscribed by their culture's model of the world."

Like all mental models of the world, a model of gender for humans contains generalizations, deletions, and distortions of information. This can lead to situations where someone may (for whatever reason) have anatomical, physiological, neurological, or behavioral attributes that exist as an outlier (or non-conformance) to the models of gender in the culture the person in question grew up in. A person in this situation is likely to feel alienated by the prescribed norms of the culture, which may trigger fears of rejection or even physical violence if they were open about their differences. For those who don't fit into the standard model, reworking the social model of gender to explain and include them into the popular understanding helps them feel included and validated as people. So I am supportive of using gender-neutral pronouns. Some cultures have them already, and they don't seem worse for it. Having such a tool in the English language also doesn't mean that those who are gender-neutral or third gender or whatever won't have research done on them to understand the source of their difference. Maybe it turns out they are the way they are because of past-life influences, and by working on such issues they may resolve to pick a gender and stick with it. Or it may be due to environmental toxins influencing hormonal development of the brain. Maybe they'll all just attention-seekers with a type-B personality disorder. Who knows, but that research will be done sooner or later. Until then, I don't think at least socially recognizing the unusual position of some anatomically, physiologically, or neurologically unique individuals is going to be harmful.

This seems like such a no-brainer, so the fact that human cultures often have such a narrow view of gender seems to require an accounting and explanation. Is there an adaptive benefit to a particular model of gender to societal norms? What do you all think?

Laura said:


There was a video posted a couple months back where a Scandinavian guy went on the hunt for the evidence and interviewed researchers. It seems that gender preferences were present in newborns before there was ever a possibility of social influence. When this information was shown to some of the movers and shakers of the Postmodernist "gender fluidity" movement, they simply denied that it was possible. It was an amazing thing to see Dunning-Kruger in action.


Not only that, but countries that have greater social and economic equity between the sexes (such as Scandinavia) tend to have GREATER gender differences in occupation choices. Far fewer women go into engineering in Scandinavia than their North American counterparts, and the converse is true for men in nursing. So when you reduce as much as possible socioeconomic influences on a person's decision making, increasingly you're just left with gender expression more intimately linked to biopsychological causes (as opposed to psychosocial causes).
 

luc

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#8
Laura said:
There was a video posted a couple months back where a Scandinavian guy went on the hunt for the evidence and interviewed researchers. It seems that gender preferences were present in newborns before there was ever a possibility of social influence. When this information was shown to some of the movers and shakers of the Postmodernist "gender fluidity" movement, they simply denied that it was possible. It was an amazing thing to see Dunning-Kruger in action.
Yeah, that was fascinating - take this, gender-benders! Here's the video:


https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xp0tg8


whitecoast said:
Not only that, but countries that have greater social and economic equity between the sexes (such as Scandinavia) tend to have GREATER gender differences in occupation choices. Far fewer women go into engineering in Scandinavia than their North American counterparts, and the converse is true for men in nursing. So when you reduce as much as possible socioeconomic influences on a person's decision making, increasingly you're just left with gender expression more intimately linked to biopsychological causes (as opposed to psychosocial causes).
Indeed, and the explanation is simple: if you live in a social system where you don't need to worry too much (like Scandinavia) and have freedom to choose your profession, you choose what you like, like nursing if you are a woman and engineering if you are a man.

If you live in a third-world country where you don't have much freedom and your primary concern is for you and your family not to starve, you choose what pays best. No wonder that more women go into IT or engineering in such countries because it simply pays more, even if it means they do something that they don't like that much.

In other words, to bring more women into STEM/more men into nursing, you need to apply brute force. And that's exactly what the gender-ideologues-gone-mainstream do, behind their twisted talk about 'fairness' and 'equality'.
 

Laura

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#9
Ernest Gellner, in his prescient “Postmodernism, Reason and Religion”, discusses three ideological positions of our contemporary world which, at the present moment, have sharpened into weapons of violence: Islamic Fundamentalism, Postmodernist Relativism, and what he terms Enlightenment Secular Fundamentalism. I would strongly urge anyone who is struggling to understand the twists and turns of certain currents of contemporary social chaos to read this small volume for the very big insights it gives. He writes about Muslim Fundamentalism first and the following pretty much condenses his more lengthy discussion which includes examples of how Islam is preached by the fundies of that faith:

Muslim Fundamentalism is an enormously simple, powerful, earthy, sometimes cruel, absorbing, socially fortifying movement, which gives a sense of direction and orientation to millions of men and women, many of whom live lives of bitter poverty and are subject to harsh oppression. It enables them to adjust to a new anonymous mass society by identifying with the old, long-established High Culture of their own faith, and explaining their own deprivation and humiliation as a punishment for having strayed from the true path, rather than a consequence of never having found it; a disruption and disorientation is thus turned into a social and moral ascension, an attainment of identity and dignity.
It doesn't matter that what they are convinced to believe including what to believe about their faith, what matters is that they ARE convinced that it is true and their emotional states - due to long-term oppression by the West - are such that it easily "goes into" them and anchors in their minds/hearts.

His discussion of postmodernism, its origins, development, adherents, and practices (if they can be called such) is brilliant; one can quickly recognize the psychological dilemmas of what we are calling the neo-liberal left nowadays, which underlie their violent reactions to nearly everything except dreamy navel gazing. Here I will skim quickly through his book and pull out a stream of excerpts that will make the position and its problems clear. Gellner writes:

Postmodernism is a contemporary movement. It is strong and fashionable. Over and above this, it is not altogether clear what the devil it is. In fact, clarity is not conspicuous amongst its marked attributes. It not only generally fails to practice it, but also on occasion actually repudiates it. …

The influence of the movement can be discerned in anthropology, literary studies, philosophy. … The notion that everything is a ‘text’, that the basic material of texts, societies and almost anything is meaning, that meanings are there to be decoded or ‘deconstructed’, that the notion of objective reality is suspect – all this seems to be part of the atmosphere, or mist, in which postmodernism flourishes, or which postmodernism helps to spread. …

Postmodernism would seem to be rather clearly in favour of relativism, in as far as it is capable of clarity, and hostile to the idea of unique, exclusive, objective, external or transcendent truth. …

Everything is meaning, and meaning is everything, and hermeneutics is its prophet. … a kind of narcissism-hermeneuticism… objective facts and generalizations are the expressions and tools of domination. … in anthropology, it means in effect the abandonment of any serious attempt to give a reasonably precise, documented and testable account of anything. … a refusal (in practice, rather selective) to countenance any objective facts, any independent social structures and their replacement by a pursuit of ‘meanings’, both those of the objects of inquiry and of the inquirer. … Objective truth is to be replaced by hermeneutic truth. Hermeneutic truth respects the subjectivity both of the object of the inquiry and of the inquirer, and even of the reader or listener. …

So the path leads from Marxist elimination of opponents for alleged pseudo-objectivity, to Frankfurt [school] castigation of superficial positivism equated with the amassing of surface facts, to postmodernist repudiation of the very aspiration to objectivity, and its replacement by hermeneutics….

One cannot think straight if one begins by closing one’s eyes to reality. The hermeneutic equality of all systems of meaning precludes us from even asking, let alone answering, the question concerning why the world is so very unsymmetrical… The real and greatest objection to relativism is not that it proposes a false solution (though it does), but that it prevents us from even seeing and formulating our problem.

The willful and sometimes flamboyant unwillingness to face the central fact of our time – justifying this by the facile argument that men live through cultural meanings, cultural meanings are ultimate and self-sustaining, therefore all cultures are cognitively equal, therefore the central fact of our time could not have happened, even if it did – is one of the main sins of hermeneutic symmetricism, but not the only one. Another important one is the permanent, deeply inherent bias of such thought towards idealism. By this I mean the undervaluing of coercive and economic constraints in society, and the overvaluing of conceptual ones. This is curious, in as far as hermeneutists … tend to be to the left, or at any rate often opposed to and critical of the established order. You would expect them to be highly sensitive to coercive and economic forms of constraint, and the way in which the rulers of a society monopolize power and economic levers so as to retain and enhance their own position.

You might expect them to be aware of the way in which political and economic coercion underwrites and imposes meanings… But hermeneutists do not seem to be very interested in political and economic structures… They are enormously sensitive to the manner in which concepts constrain, and less than attentive to other, and perhaps more important, forms of coercion. Their attitude engenders a selective sensitivity which in effect ignores those other constraints, or even by implication denies their existence. …

Indisputably, it is the case that concepts do constrain. Concepts, the range of available ideas, all that is suggested by a given language, and all that which is inexpressible in it are part of the machinery of social control. …

What is obvious is that conceptual constraint is not the only mechanism operative. Russian society… between 1916 and 1918 … or German society between 1944 an 1946… Power changed hands… It is obvious that these very dramatic alterations were produced by a transfer of the means of physical coercion from one set of hands to another… and not by some semantic transformation. What mattered was who held the gun, and who did not. ...

Hermeneutists tend to slide over quietly from the perfectly valid perception that concepts do constrain, to the totally indefensible idealist doctrine, or rather operational assumption, that only concepts constrain. … The song and dance about symbolic domination in the end inevitably obscures the reality of other, perhaps more important forms of coercion. … For all the fuss made of it, this style of inquiry does not in fact advance our understanding of the nature and role of meaning in life, but, if anything, retards it. …

What gives interpretive anthropology its air of originality is the hint that such interpretation is everything there is to be done, or, at any rate, that it is very, very central. In the exaggerated and hysterical form this takes when it becomes postmodernism’, it turns into a kind of witch-hunt or exorcism or purification of any vestige of an interfering or dominant observer with pretensions to objectivity, a self-excoriation made even more exciting by blissful confessions of ultimate failure. …

Coming to terms with the global disruption caused by the dominance of one cognitive and technological style is not going to be easy… But facile relativism will not help. It is an affectation, specially attractive amongst the more naïve provincials in privileged cultures, who suppose that this inversion of their previous viewpoint will help them, all at once, to atone for their privilege, understand others and themselves, and comprehend our shared predicament….

[Postmodernism] is a movement which denies the very possibility of extraneous validity and authority. Admittedly, it is specially insistent in this denial, when the contrary affirmation of such external validation comes from fellow-members, non-relativists within their own society. … ex-colonial guilt on the other hand inhibit stressing the point to members of other cultures. The absolutism of others receives favoured treatment, and a warm sympathy which is very close to endorsement.

Knowledge or morality outside culture is, it claims a chimera: each culture must seek its own knowledge and morality… Cross-cultural or cross-semantic investigation is only possible if the dignity and equality of the ‘other’ culture is respected. If it were characterized and dissected with lucidity and confidence, this would constitute at the very least an implied devaluation of it.
Gellner returns to Muslim fundamentalism in order to compare it to the cognitive style of Postmodernism; he writes:

[Muslim fundamentalism] is profoundly asymmetrical in its vision of global ideological situation: there is no God but God. All other gods and prophets are false… Idolaters are, at least in principle, according to the formal and unrepudiated version of the creed, to be given the choice of conversion or the sword. It would, one fears, have availed them little to have squealed that their idolatrous meanings are as legitimate as any other, because it has been definitively established by most prestigious Western academics that all meanings are equal, all cultures are self-validating, and so they ought not to be put to the sword. The executioner would not have been made to relent by a quote from Wittgenstein. …

The relationship of these two characters in the drama to each other is interesting. The relativists-hermeneuticists are really very eager to display their universal, ecumenical tolerance and comprehension of alien cultures. The more alien, the more shocking and disturbing to the philistines, to those whom they deem to be the provincialists of their own society, the better. Very, very much the better, for the more shocking the other, the more does this comprehension highlight the superiority of the enlightened hermeneutist within his own society. The harder the comprehension, the more repellent the object destined for hermeneutic blessing, the greater the achievement, the illumination and the insight of the interpretive postmodernist. However, our hermeneutist has to pussy-foot a bit around the fact that those whom he would so eagerly tolerate and understand are not always quite so tolerant themselves. The relativist endorses the absolutism of others, and so his relativism entails an absolutism which also contradicts it.

The fundamentalists, on the other hand, are not very much concerned with our relativists… What they have noticed is that the society which harbours hermeneutists, as it harbours so much else (it can afford it), is pervaded by pluralism, doubt, half-heartedness and an inability to take its own erstwhile faith literally and practice it to the full. They are not quite clear whether they despise it for its tolerance, or rebuke it for not being tolerant enough… Those Muslim scholars resident in the West who endorsed the death sentence for apostasy and blasphemy on a Muslim novelist both despise the host society for its eclectic tolerance, and yet resent its unwillingness to endorse or tolerate their own imposition of severe law on their co-religionists. (Gellner (1992) Routledge)
One of the most interesting things Gellner has said above is this:
The relativists-hermeneuticists are really very eager to display their universal, ecumenical tolerance and comprehension of alien cultures. The more alien, the more shocking and disturbing to the philistines, to those whom they deem to be the provincialists of their own society, the better. Very, very much the better, for the more shocking the other, the more does this comprehension highlight the superiority of the enlightened hermeneutist within his own society. The harder the comprehension, the more repellent the object destined for hermeneutic blessing, the greater the achievement, the illumination and the insight of the interpretive postmodernist.
This relates directly to what Lobaczewski wrote about "hysterization of society".

The study of macro-social ponerogenic phenomena meets with obvious problems: their period of genesis, duration, and decay is several times longer than the researcher’s scientific activity. Simultaneously, there are other transformations in history, customs, economics, and technology; however, the difficulties confronted in abstracting the appropriate symptoms need not be insuperable, since our criteria are based on eternal phenomena subject to relatively limited transformations in time.

{Gellner discusses the historical path of development of the nihilistic postmodernist ideology that is at the root of the "gender fluidity" movement. Indeed, it has been several generations in the making and it is well worth reviewing and understanding its genesis.}

The traditional interpretation of these great historical diseases has already taught historians to distinguish two phases. The first is represented by a period of spiritual crisis in a society, which historiography associates with exhausting of the ideational, moral, and religious values heretofore nourishing the society in question. Egoism among individuals and social groups increases, and the links of moral duty and social networks are felt to be loosening. Trifling matters thereupon dominate human minds to such an extent that there is no room left for imagination regarding public matters or a feeling of commitment to the future. An atrophy of the hierarchy of values within the thinking of individuals and societies is an indication thereof; it has been described both in historiographic monographs and in psychiatric papers. The country’s government is finally paralyzed, helpless in the face of problems which could be solved without great difficulty under other circumstances. Let us associate such periods of crisis with the familiar phase in social hysterization....

{It is indeed true that the issue of "gender fluidity" is one of the LEAST of our problems. But, as Gellner points out, the postmodernists focus on ideology and interpretations as being the root of all evil, while giving no attention or energy to the main questions of our time: the dominance of the 1% over everyone else and the way this is carried out economically and violently. They'll scream and yell about gender identity being a social construct and how everyone should accept Islam as a valid construct, but say nothing at all about what Saudi Arabia and Israel are doing in the Middle East against other Arabs, much less spend any time denouncing their own government for being at the root of the refugee crisis by interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states, bombing the hell out of them, tearing down their social structures, etc. No indeed, let's all worry about stupid things like gender fluidity while the freaking world is burning. No wonder the Muslims call America the "Great Satan."

Now, here comes Lobaczewski description of Postmodernism, though I'm sure he didn't really think of it on precisely those terms:}


During happy times of peace and social injustice, children of the privileged classes learn to repress from their field of consciousness any of those uncomfortable concepts suggesting that they and their parents benefit from injustice. Young people learn to disqualify the moral and mental values of anyone whose work they are using to over-advantage. Young minds thus ingest habits of subconscious selection and substitution of data, which leads to a hysterical conversion economy of reasoning. They grow up to be somewhat hysterical adults who, by means of the ways adduced above, thereupon transmit their hysteria to the younger generation, which then develops these characteristics to a greater degree. The hysterical patterns for experience and behavior grow and spread downwards from the privileged classes until crossing the boundary of the first criterion of ponerology.

{Here we need to recall Lobaczewski's First Criterion for recognizing the working of evil in society:

One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups and associations have in common is the fact that their members lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in a fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic way. The opinions, ideas, and judgments of people carrying various psychological deficits are endowed with an importance at least equal to that of outstanding individuals among normal people. The atrophy of natural critical faculties with respect to pathological individuals becomes an opening to their activities, and, at the same time, a criterion for recognizing the association in concern as ponerogenic. Let us call this the first criterion of ponerogenesis.

Another phenomenon all ponerogenic associations have in common is their statistically high concentration of individuals with various psychological anomalies.
I think that it is safe to say that the whole post-modernist, nihilistic movement was created and propagated by pathological individuals in academia. Gellner does not put it that way, but he certainly discusses some of these characters which can be recognized by keeping Lobaczewski's diagnostic criteria in mind. (Schizoid, characteropaths, etc.)}

When the habits of subconscious selection and substitution of thought-data spread to the macro-social level, a society tends to develop contempt for factual criticism and to humiliate anyone sounding an alarm. {Exactly what Gellner described coming at the problem from a different direction.} Contempt is also shown for other nations which have maintained normal thought-patterns and for their opinions. Egotistic thought-terrorization is accomplished by the society itself and its processes of conversive thinking. This obviates the need for censorship of the press, theater, or broadcasting, as a pathologically hypersensitive censor lives within the citizens themselves. When three “egos” govern, egoism, egotism, and egocentrism, the feeling of social links and responsibility disappear, and the society in question splinters into groups ever more hostile to each other. When a hysterical environment stops differentiating the opinions of limited, not-quite-normal people from those of normal, reasonable persons, this opens the door for activation of the pathological factors of a various nature.

Individuals governed by a pathological view of reality and abnormal goals caused by their different nature develop their activity in such conditions. If a given society does not manage to overcome the state of hysterization under its ethnological and political circumstances, a huge bloody tragedy can be the result. ...

A greater resistance to hysterization characterizes those social groups which earn their daily bread by daily effort, where the practicalities of everyday life force the mind to think soberly and reflect on generalities. As an example: peasants continue to view the hysterical customs of the well-to-do classes through their own earthly perception of psychological reality and their sense of humor. Similar customs on the part of the bourgeoisie incline workers to bitter criticism and revolutionary anger. Whether couched in economic, ideological, or political terms, the criticism and demands of these social groups always contain a component of psychological, moral, and anti-hysterical motivation. For this reason, it is most appropriate to consider these demands with deliberation and take these classes’ feelings into account. On the other hand, tragic results can derive from thoughtless action paving the way for spellbinders to make themselves heard.

The next phase has been marked by bloody tragedies, revolutions, wars, and the fall of empires.


There is no doubt whatsoever that Postmodernism and the processes it uses to induce and reinforce "habits of subconscious selection and substitution of thought-data" is purely and simply Nihilism. Gellner discusses this aspect of the thing in some detail. However, there is another book that was written by someone who caught on early: "Caricature of Love" by Hervey Cleckley. At it's root, the "gender fluidity" movement is pure psychopathy in action, an expression of STS that is shocking in its obviousness, and even more shocking that so many have been taken in by it.

But then, there have been quite a few seers of our society who have seen and warned, Gellner and Lobaczewski included.

During stable times which are ostensibly happy, albeit marked by injury to individuals and nations, doctrinaire people believe they have found a simple solution to fix such a world. {Gender fluidity!!! Prophets of hermenuetics!} Such a historical period is always characterized by an impoverished psychological world view, a schizoidally impoverished psychological world view thus does not stand out during such times and is accepted as legal tender. These doctrinaire individuals characteristically manifest a certain contempt with regard to moralists then preaching the need to rediscover lost human values and to develop a richer, more appropriate psychological world view.

Schizoid characters aim to impose their own conceptual world upon other people or social groups, using relatively controlled pathological egotism and the exceptional tenacity derived from their persistent nature. They are thus eventually able to overpower another individual’s personality, which causes the latter’s behavior to turn desperately illogical. They may also exert a similar influence upon the group of people they have joined. They are psychological loners who feel better in some human organization, wherein they become zealots for some ideology, religious bigots, materialists, or adherents of an ideology with satanic features. If their activities consist of direct contact on a small social scale, their acquaintances easily perceive them to be eccentric, which limits their ponerogenic role. However, if they manage to hide their own personality behind the written word, their influence may poison the minds of society in a wide scale and for a long time.
And that is exactly what has happened here.
 

Avala

Dagobah Resident
#10
Beorn said:
I think gender is the defining of one's biological sex within a society. So it's based on the male, female or neuter categories. The words used to describe gender may be social constructs but they try to define something based on a biological reality.

Gender identity seems to be a strange term to me, and they way they use it fails to take into account the vast repository of behaviours that can be found within being male or female. So wanting to identify with something like a cat, for example, seems quite absurd. Firstly the real cats might be offended ;D, and secondly it's completely divorced from the biological reality that underpins our ideas of gender.

The "gender expression" that goes along with gender identity is really about behaviour. Perhaps from a wider level you can say males tend to do this and females tend to do that but there's going to be some overlap. From an individual perspective it's more about the way one behaves and expresses oneself. I don't see why gender has to be brought into it at all except for political reasons.

You can expres it any way you want, but the fact is that you are born male or born female. And that's it for the human race.

In the "modern western" societies there is some confusion about that, but I see that confusion only as a result of psychopatisation of the said "modern western" societies, nothing natural. Maybe good way of thinking on that mater would be: "What my grandfather and grandmother were thinking on gender as a social construct?". They didn't thinking about that at all, they knew what they are. It is simple as that. There is social programming related to the people's born sex, and we can discus it, but still, male is male, female is female. And the POINT IS the needed biological difference betwen the two.
 

Laura

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#11
It is certainly true that equality of opportunity and choice ought to exist for everyone, and that includes not just between males and females, but also between rich and poor. But that does not - or should not - negate the realization that the "gender fluid" types are a VERY SMALL minority, and imposing laws on everyone else for the sake of a minority that should simply be protected from violations of their basic rights, is not very helpful.

In fact, bringing the sexual/gender preferences to the fore and sidelining the real issues appears to be quite counterproductive. The Postmodernists really have gone too far in their efforts to prove their enlightenment and acceptance of what is still "strange and unusual" to the majority.
 

luc

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#13
FWIW, Jordan Peterson recommends this book on postmodernism (haven't read it yet):

Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
by Stephen R. C. Hicks

Tracing postmodernism from its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant to their development in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty, philosopher Stephen Hicks provides a provocative account of why postmodernism has been the most vigorous intellectual movement of the late 20th century. Why do skeptical and relativistic arguments have such power in the contemporary intellectual world? Why do they have that power in the humanities but not in the sciences? Why has a significant portion of the political Left - the same Left that traditionally promoted reason, science, equality for all, and optimism - now switched to themes of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism? Explaining Postmodernism is intellectual history with a polemical twist, providing fresh insights into the debates underlying the furor over political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of liberal democracy. This expanded edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks, *Free Speech and Postmodernism* and *From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly*.
_https://www.amazon.com/Explaining-Postmodernism-Skepticism-Socialism-Rousseau/dp/0983258406
 

Laura

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#14
luc said:
FWIW, Jordan Peterson recommends this book on postmodernism (haven't read it yet):

Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
by Stephen R. C. Hicks

Tracing postmodernism from its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant to their development in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty, philosopher Stephen Hicks provides a provocative account of why postmodernism has been the most vigorous intellectual movement of the late 20th century. Why do skeptical and relativistic arguments have such power in the contemporary intellectual world? Why do they have that power in the humanities but not in the sciences? Why has a significant portion of the political Left - the same Left that traditionally promoted reason, science, equality for all, and optimism - now switched to themes of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism? Explaining Postmodernism is intellectual history with a polemical twist, providing fresh insights into the debates underlying the furor over political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of liberal democracy. This expanded edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks, *Free Speech and Postmodernism* and *From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly*.
_https://www.amazon.com/Explaining-Postmodernism-Skepticism-Socialism-Rousseau/dp/0983258406
Yes, excellent. A couple of reviews on amazon are helpful, too.

This is a superb, important book, one which I have begun recommending to friends and colleagues. It is a history of postmodernism that connects its relationship to history, the history of philosophy, leftist politics and even the ugliness of contemporary art. The overarching thesis is that “the failure of epistemology made postmodernism possible, and the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary.” From the Anglo/French Enlightenment the left turned to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger. By the mid 20th century it was clear that socialism was a grand failure, leaving the world awash in millions of dead bodies. Such straightforward Enlightenment tools as reason, logic and factual evidence made that clear. The result was that hard leftists such as Foucault and softish hard leftists like Derrida and Rorty (all born in very close proximity to one another) set out to destroy those Enlightenment tools, arguing that language does not reflect reality, facts are really fiction, there is no such thing as ‘human nature’, all comes down to questions of ‘power’, and so on. These strategies were ultimately designed to protect socialism from common sense criticism. This has not advanced socialism to any appreciable degree, but it has roiled our colleges and universities and served as a countercultural infrastructure for a vast machine of indoctrination, one that seeks to win a succession of tiny battles when it is clear that the larger war has long been lost.

Hicks’s conclusions are this stark but his arguments are detailed. He sees this as fundamentally a failure of epistemology that has been exploited endlessly. Kant’s ultimate subjectivism and his separation of subject and object have been decisive in opening the door both to postmodernism and to romanticism. Hicks does not pursue the latter; that would require another book, but one which I would very much like to see him write.

The book is one of the most lucid and accessible studies of the history of philosophy that I have ever encountered and it is particularly acute in its ability to connect the dots and trace the intellectual lineages and etiologies. If you want to see how the defense of affirmative action, speech codes, and global warming activism ultimately connects with Rousseau, Kant and Marx, et al, this is the book with which you should begin.

This expanded edition adds two relevant essays: “Free Speech and Postmodernism” and “From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly.” The latter is particularly incisive.

Highly recommended.
And:

Not often I get to say of a non-fiction book that I didn't want to put it down and was sad when I reached the end. Except for a sense of the movement's nihilism, I didn't know much about Postmodernism, but Dr. Hicks has covered the ground. He begins with a broad brush of what postmodernism stands for metaphysically (anti-realism), epistemologically (skepticism), ethically (collectivism in the social, educational and political sphere) and aesthetically (the meaninglessness of art and criticism). One gets the impression that he knows the subject well. His attention to detail is that of the scholar and even the true believer, but he hints slyly at the movement's absurdity even here. From his review he goes backwards and traces the roots of the movement beginning with Kant's response to the Enlightenment in an attempt to shore up the authority of the Church, and up through Rousseau, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Fichte, Nietzsche, Marx, and then Heidegger to the later 20th century with Foucault, Derrida, and Rorty. There are many other voices mentioned along the way (Kierkegaard plays a role as does Freud). Besides philosophers he traces political movements of the left and the right in opposition to the Enlightenment's development of capitalism resting on individualism.

In the last chapter HIcks returns to Postmodernism proper and its absurdity from the metaphysical and epistemological to the political and aesthetic. In 200 hundred years every political and social consequence of anti-Enlightenment philosophy, every prediction and political hope has singularly failed. Postmodernism is the response to this failure by philosophers who come to the conclusion that if the foundation and development of the anti-Enlightenment movement over 200 years is rotten the only thing left to do, besides admit that you are wrong, is attack and destroy what the Enlightenment produced. Even Nietzsche (who Hicks returns to illustratively at the end) presciently suggests that one can take anti-realism and nihilism too far leaving the postmodernists to "quote Nietzsche less and Rousseau more". Not only is Postmodernism nihilistic, it is destructively so, the bitter fruits of jealousy over the failure of collectivist anti-realism and seeming political, economic, and social success of Enlightenment realism, rationalism, and individualism.

An excellent review, through, scholarly, and easy to read. I find Hick's style both serious and humerous at the same time. Superb!
 

Chu

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#15
whitecoast said:
Corvinus said:

Think the answer to that is rather simple, look in the mirror and your pants and you ll get an answer if gender is biological or social construct.


I think you are confusing sex and gender. Sex is the biological distinction in anatomy and DNA between male and female specializations, each of which has physical and behavioral differences. Gender is about the behavioral, social, and cultural ways in which differences between the sexes manifest. This can include differences in self-presentation, self-expression, taboos, occupational preferences, and a myriad of consumption habits (many products we consume are "gendered" into a male and female version).

Another term that probably requires definition and clarification is the term "social construct."

[...]

A social construct is a model of the world shared between people in a group, which can be conveyed or deliberated over through language. So when we say gender is a social construct, what they're really saying is, "The myriad ways in which people behaviorally manifest their sex is controlled/influenced/circumscribed by their culture's model of the world."


Although I think I understand what you are saying, to me it's a contradiction into which many fall nowadays with this "gender is a social construct" business.

The definition (Merriam-Wester) of gender is:

1
a : a subclass within a grammatical class (such as noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb) of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (such as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical formsb : membership of a word or a grammatical form in such a subclassc : an inflectional form (see inflection 3a) showing membership in such a subclass

2
a : sex the feminine gender
b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex
"Typically associated with sex" because humans are capable of pattern recognition. If 999 men out of 1000 share certain behavioral and psychological traits, that they generally do not share with women (and viceversa), then, that association is based on the observation of natural and objective occurrences. When you see small boys and girls already manifesting those differences, it is difficult to believe that it's a "social construct". Plus, some of the "traits" ARE based on biology (e.g. a deeper voice in men, more anatomical aptitude for strength, etc.) Nobody imposed those traits on anyone.

In fact, if you are going to go there, I'd say that the ones that are submitting themselves to any "constructs" at all are the minorities who start acting in the same way, following stereotyped beliefs. Like Cleckely described in Caricature of Life, "effeminate" traits in men or "masculine" traits in women are often copied from the opposite sex, and because they are unnatural, they are exaggerated and "fake". They become stereotypical and very similar within each group. It takes effort, imitation, practice. Perhaps in rare occasions it could be said to have come naturally, but I think that's a small percentage if it's true at all.

Notice that even the most liberal advocates of all this don't claim to be "creating a new gender" (which is what they should do if they really think it is a social construct). They "identify" with a gender (or even an animal, etc.). I.e. they identify (psychologically) with something that already exists, a concept based on observation.

Like all mental models of the world, a model of gender for humans contains generalizations, deletions, and distortions of information. This can lead to situations where someone may (for whatever reason) have anatomical, physiological, neurological, or behavioral attributes that exist as an outlier (or non-conformance) to the models of gender in the culture the person in question grew up in. A person in this situation is likely to feel alienated by the prescribed norms of the culture, which may trigger fears of rejection or even physical violence if they were open about their differences. For those who don't fit into the standard model, reworking the social model of gender to explain and include them into the popular understanding helps them feel included and validated as people. So I am supportive of using gender-neutral pronouns.
I think you're falling into a trap. Equality and understanding should definitely be there. Empathy towards those that for one reason or another are "different". But if a pronoun of a change in language had to be made every time someone is different, then society would lose the little cohesion it has left. It means destroying things that keep people together, that help them interpret the very basics of reality (like how we were born from the intercourse between a woman and a man, and not from "2 daddies", "2 mommies", for example.).

This pronoun issue also promotes normalizing something that is NOT normal. And then what? Do you see where that can go? Thought affects language, yes, but language affects thought as well. Accepting that it exists and allowing different people to live harmoniously in the community is not the same as pretending that nothing strange is going on, that everybody is really "equal". Differences should be a source of enrichment, not fed when they sew even more division, compliance and pathology. And when those minorities ENFORCE their "differences" onto others, that's not good at all. It often ends up worse for them!

Notice the paradox between demanding to be included and accepted, while at the same time setting themselves apart, as unique.

Some cultures have them already, and they don't seem worse for it. Having such a tool in the English language also doesn't mean that those who are gender-neutral or third gender or whatever won't have research done on them to understand the source of their difference. Maybe it turns out they are the way they are because of past-life influences, and by working on such issues they may resolve to pick a gender and stick with it. Or it may be due to environmental toxins influencing hormonal development of the brain. Maybe they'll all just attention-seekers with a type-B personality disorder. Who knows, but that research will be done sooner or later. Until then, I don't think at least socially recognizing the unusual position of some anatomically, physiologically, or neurologically unique individuals is going to be harmful.
But this is a rather new phenomenon, and it should not be normalized just because we want to be "nice". We might be doing a huge disservice to honest and suffering transgenders, who actually want to understand themselves and be understood. Instead of focusing on a "gender", a pronoun, etc., we should be focusing on people's essences.

This seems like such a no-brainer, so the fact that human cultures often have such a narrow view of gender seems to require an accounting and explanation. Is there an adaptive benefit to a particular model of gender to societal norms? What do you all think?
See above. I don't think it's a matter of it being adaptive. It is what it is, based on biology and visible traits in the majority of the population. "Adapting" in this case means creating a ... social construct! to be "nice". OSIT.

The fact that this is such a "hot topic" and that it leads to so many people being divided, should make us think of the agenda behind it, way beyond this issue which is really small in reality.
 
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