Sex and Gender

I’ve really been remiss of late in posting here. I’m not making apologies, just stating facts. The obvious truth is that I’ve been doing other stuff that had greater priority, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten my blogging friends whose sites I’ve always enjoy visiting. For those of you who drop by here from time to time, I felt it only fair to give you something to look at besides a piece I wrote almost a month ago. I therefore asked my friend Mike (www.travelingcurmudgeon.com ) for permission to post a bit from his most recent stuff that I found interesting and hopefully, you will do the same. Be well.
 

Differences between sexes—not genders, which is a word belonging to linguists concerned with matching the form of modifiers to their nouns or verbs. It was commandeered for use in social discourse by prudes who didn’t want to say sex. But I like to say sex. There, I’ll say it again: sex—can be useful, annoying, highly pleasurable, inconvenient, infuriating. But not ignored.

I’m all for equality of the sexes, or at least equal opportunity. But let’s not confuse equality with identity. Women are not the same as men. You may have noticed this if you’ve looked at both. Aside from anatomical and physiological distinctions, which I wholeheartedly applaud, there are other, more subtle differences. For instance, no woman is ever satisfied that anything is in the right place. If you live with one, you know what I mean. No matter how long the furniture has been where it is, you need to try a different arrangement every so often, just in case it might be better. And not just furniture; the same thing goes for appliances and anything even remotely moveable. If the microwave is in the corner, it needs to come out about two feet. If the spice rack is two feet out, it might be better in the corner. I don’t know why this is, but I’m pretty sure no man behaves this way.

Women are sort of like this with paint, too. After some years (exactly how long is a mystery buried deep in the X chromosome) they decide it’s time for a home makeover, and the whole house needs to be repainted. We’re going through that now; my wife has picked out a whole bunch of new colors. Never mind that to my eye they look an awful lot like the old colors; male wisdom is knowing when to close your mouth and open your checkbook.

Women don’t like the same movies as men, and they refuse to be fair about it. I’ll go to a chick flick with my wife from time to time, but no way is she going with me to a movie with car chases and stuff blowing up.

Ladies don’t blow their noses, either. It’s something I’ve never understood, and if anyone can enlighten me, I would appreciate it. They hold a Kleenex up in the neighborhood below their eyes and make this dainty little pfft, pfft. There’s barely a sound, not enough wind to ruffle a duckling’s down, let alone accomplish its intended purpose. Jeanine agrees that it’s not very effective, so why bother at all? It’s really more of a blot than a blow, but then why pretend? I just don’t get it.

 

 

The other day I talked about sex and told you everything husbands need to know about their wives. (If you missed it, here it is again: shut up and sign the check.) I distinguished between sex and gender, so today I thought I’d address the notion of gender.

The English language doesn’t have any; we don’t care about masculine or feminine with respect to inanimate objects. Maybe a few English speakers do, but they are a very small minority. In other languages it matters. Sometimes it’s helpful for understanding, like in German. With their horrendously convoluted sentences, it makes it easier to figure out what adjective goes with what noun. Sometimes gender is perfectly logical, if superfluous: “dress” is feminine in every language I know. So is “flower,” which seems appropriate to me, if not necessarily logical.

Sometimes gender seems completely arbitrary. In German and the Romance languages, the word for “hand” is feminine, while the word for “foot” is masculine. Unless you are talking about an animal’s foot, which is feminine in all cases. Arms are masculine, at least in French, Italian, and Spanish, but legs are feminine. Come to think of it, maybe that makes sense….

“Bed” and “pillow” are both masculine in France, but feminine in Spain. In French, Spanish, or Italian what you sit on (“chair”) is feminine but what you stand on (“floor”) is masculine. Unless it’s an armchair, which is masculine in France, or a dance floor, which is feminine in Italy.

In France, the sun is masculine and the moon feminine. In Germany, it’s the other way around. Imagine trying to translate a French poem about the sun chasing the moon across the sky. Germans would interpret the metaphor a bit differently from the French. But isn’t that always the way?

 

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7 Responses to Sex and Gender

  1. Michelle says:

    Very funny! The masculine and feminine forms really causes me problems while learning Spanish! I am constantly making errors with it. Thanks for your comment at my blog. I am happy to help Mom and do not consider it a burden. The hardest part right now is knowing if this is permanent or treatable. Her diagnosis has been a bit confusing. One doctor says she has dementia and her newest doctor says it "might" be delirium. Time will tell what the true diagnosis is. I will definitely enjoy Father\’s Day with my Dad. I plan to bake him a treat and make him a nice meal.Happy Father\’s Day Jorge! :)Abrazos,Michelle

  2. sweeti's says:

    Like in frencha language Jorge it all depends on the words last lettermost of the time the words ending on O are masc…and words on e feminin and there are exceptions lolwe used to leanr those from heart lolman/woman…i love ur ntry Njoy ur wify helping with the new colours lolMJ

  3. PJ says:

    Good Evening Jorge,What a funny entry yet intrigueing. I am totally confused now. LOL.It was mt 27th wedding anniversary yesterday. Been together for 30 years! WOW. I am amazed. seems like yesterday..well..you know. LOL. Time does fly.Wanted to wish you a very Happy Father\’s Day Sunday, Jorge. I shall look up at the Heavens and blow a kiss to my Father.Until next time…Keep smiling.~Paula~

  4. Zeynep says:

    Hi Jorge, Firstable, Mike\’s link doesn\’t work… I read this article with a great interest. A specialist can find so many "things" with the words of all cultures. Happy Father\’s Day to you. Love, Zeynep xxhttp://img200.imageshack.us/img200/487/gallery1358.gif

  5. Jing says:

    Our simple interpretation of the difference between the two words is that sex is one\’s biological identity while gender is one\’s political identity.

  6. Marge says:

    If you correct the link above to http://www.travelingcurmudgeon.comit will work. Mike is quite a guy, Jorge; it appears he and I share the same affinity for the English language and dismay over its ambiguities. How did you discover his site???I have heard that English is the most difficult to learn as a second language; this makes sense. When I was in grade school, I remember my head swimming as I dutifully learned rules of grammar, punctuation and usage (most of the "rules" seemed ambiguous to me–and still do).The absence of gender specificity in the English language is a blessing, as far as I\’m concerned. Imagine having to remember whether a word is masculine or feminine, in addition to its standing as a noun, verb, adjective, or otherwise…Boggles the mind.Thank you for a good-humored, insightful posting, my friend; as always you\’ve given me an occasion to smile without letting on that you\’re teaching me a little bit, as well. Yes, you are, as ever, a good teacher…I wish you a relaxing, interesting weekend…Ever your friend,Marge

  7. Jane says:

    Perhaps words don\’t matter…just feelings do 🙂

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