Sex vs Gender
What is the difference between the terms “sex” and “gender”? Both terms are very closely related and difficult to distinguish the exact meaning of the terms.
The American Heritage® Dictionary describes gender as a sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture/ The condition of being female or male. And sex is described as the property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions.
The American Heritage® Dictionary further explains that gender as a word used primarily to refer to the grammatical categories of “masculine,” “feminine,” and “neuter,” but in recent years the word has become well established in its use to refer to sex-based categories, as in phrases such as gender gap and the politics of gender. This usage is supported by the practice of many anthropologists, who reserve sex for reference to biological categories, while using gender to refer to social or cultural categories.
For example, one would say
“The effectiveness of the medication appears to depend on the sex (not gender) of the patient.”
“In peasant societies, gender (not sex) roles are likely to be more clearly defined.”
This distinction is useful in principle, but it is by no means widely observed, and considerable variation in usage occurs at all levels.
According World Health Organization (WHO):
“Sex” refers to biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.
“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
To explain it simply, “Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.
Sex characteristics do not vary substantially between different human societies, while gender characteristics may vary greatly.
WHO gives some examples of sex characteristics:
Women menstruate while men do not
Men have testicles while women do not
Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not
Men generally have more massive bones than women
Some examples of gender characteristics:
In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
In most of the world, women do more housework than men
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