Talk:Gender/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Dictionary definitions

According to the OED the definition of gender is the grammatical classification of nouns and other words into different sexes - ie. Grammatical gender. It does say that it is sometimes used as a euphemism for sex (often by feminists wanting to emphasise the social and cultural as opposed to biological distinction between the sexes. --Cap 18:59, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

sex when used to identify maleness and femaleness is also a construct in populations there is always variation including in morphology refusing to examine cases on the boundary of the catagories with arguements which reduce to "there are two bathrooms therefore there are two

Gender is commonly used as a synonym for sex, refering to "males" and "females" classified according to genotypic differences and distinct primary and secondary sex characteristics. This usage is considered incorrect by some.

Under what circumstances is this considered incorrect? Mintguy
Some people like to make a clear distinction between gender==gender role and sex==sex (biology). In their view, using gender to refer to sex (biology) is incorrect. An example of such "incorrect" usage would be: "the ability to reproduce in most mammals is limited to the female gender". Supposedly, this should be rewritten as "the ability to reproduce in most mammals is limited to the female sex".
I do not mean to advocate such beliefs - merely to represent them... -Martin

Martin is correct. I cut this:

  • Gender is commonly used as a synonym for sex, refering to "males" and "females" classified according to genotypic differences and distinct primary and secondary sex characteristics. This usage is considered incorrect by some. Also known as biological gender.

I am not sure what "commonly" means, or who, exactly, uses the term "biological gender." My sense is that an encyclopedia is not a dictionary and should not deal with common (and often sloppy) examples of English usage. In the scientific and social science literature, as well as in the humanities, sex refers to biological characteristics, and gender to social ones. Male and female are words used to refer to the two sexes, but boys and girls (for children), and men and women (for adults), are the words used to refer to the two (in Western cultures) genders. Slrubenstein

For context only:
My view is: not all writers of wikipedia articles will be clear on the distinction between sex and gender (such as you have eloquently described here). Therefore, some such writers will link to gender when they should link to sex. Therefore, because this is a disambiguation page, we should provide a link to sex, along with a very brief description of what sex means. -Martin

Hm... well I have to own up to my ignorance here. I was not aware that there was such a distinction. Having said that I don't think I would have used the specific sentence Martin quotes with the word gender(it doesn't scan well), but I probably would use it in the same context in other circumstances. Perhaps the article should address the issue to educate ignoramuses(ignorami?) like myself. Mintguy (added after edit conflict-> --- I see Martin thinks it needs a mention.

let me see if i get this straight slrubenstein boys and girls are genders? dont you know that childhood is a construct - a widespread cultural human created construct which had genesis in historical time The fbi are in your computer right now;}
posters to this page of culture warriors need to wrap their heads around Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. After all, isn't the limits off your langauge the limit of your world

I've been changing some redirects. At a rough guess, on wikipedia usage of the term "gender" breaks down as follows:

  1. gender role: 50%
  2. grammatical gender: 20%
  3. sex: 10%
  4. both 1 & 3 (ie "people of indeterminate gender or sex"): 20%

Incidentally, gender role is going to suddenly be getting a bunch more links, so it might need some improvement... -Martin

"Gender" has a specific meaning to do with social roles. The use of "gender" to mean "sex" is not an alternative usage, it is a euphemisim, that is (according to Webster) "substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive". Still, some people do say "gender" to mean "sex", so let us happily accept it as a common usage. To be consistent, of course, we must now proceed to apply this policy more broadly. Starting tonight, I will comb Wikipedia for the word "urination" and replace it with the phrase "having a twinkle", for the word "genocide" and replace it with "humane population regulation program", and for the phrase "sexual intercourse" in order to replace it with "what mummies and daddies do".Tannin

uh, with all due respect, I think you mean "tinkle." Or is this an alternative usage? Slrubenstein

Some comments:

  1. According to various dictionaries (such as [1]) one meaning of gender is as a synonym for sex. Do you have any evidence for your claim that this meaning is a euphemism rather than an alternative usage? The dictionaries seem clear that it is a valid meaning.
  2. Nobody has been combing wikipedia for the term "sex" and replacing it with "gender" as far as I know. Do you have specific changes in mind that are objectionable? Martin

Do you have any evidence to show that "having a tinkle" is a euphemism rather than an alternative usage? If we need evidence for the clearly self-evident, then you better show me yours and I'll show you mine. (Err ... I think I better rephrase that.)

Seriously now, dictionaries list the meanings of euphemisms as a matter of routine. Once the euphemisim becomes common enough to come to the attention of lexicographers, it is added to dictionaries as an extra sense. Take the example of the word "toilet", which actually means "bathe, dress and groom onself" but is a common euphemism for "lavatory" (which itself was originally a euphemism for another word many years ago, of course). "Toilet" in the eumphemistic sense is listed in my Shorter Oxford as a subsiduary meaning, as are a host of other euphemisms. Eventually, if the euphemism takes hold, it becomes necessary to invent a new word to replace the euphemism in its original sense. In the meantime, people who want to communicate clearly are well advised to avoid euphemisims. As you say (at least to my knowledge) no-one is combing Wikipedia replacing "sex" with the euphemism "gender". And while that happy state remains, for my part, I promise not to go combing through it replacing other precise, accurate words with equally silly phrases like "having a tinkle" (or, for those who prefer alternative uses, "twinkle"). Tannin

Well, the dictionary lists tinkle=urinate as informal... and, umm, well... I see your point. ;-)
As it happens I once did some research on the etymology of the word gender. It seems that gender started off meaning grammatical gender, then it was used in a humourous/euphemistic sense for the male/female distinction (both biological and sociological). Later it was used in a more genuine sense for the male/female distinction, since sex had broadened its meaning to include sexual intercourse. Later still, social scientists and others of that ilk distinguished between the biological and the sociological senses of sex/gender, referring to the former as sex and the latter as gender.
I'm not sure how accurate that is, and it's old research, so I've lost my sources. But perhaps it's interesting. I guess I could put it in wikipedia at gender (word) or some such, unless it's too much like dictionary-information? Martin
That history pretty much squares with how I recall it, Martin, though I didn't realise that "sex" did not always mean "intercourse", or had perhaps forgotten it. And there is indeed much to be learned from the history of words. In fact, as I was having my light-hearted but pointed fun the other day (the post where I first mentioned "twinkle"), it occurred to me that there is currently no entry on euphemism - and there ought to be. It is a fascinating thing, the way people dance around "hot-button" words and language changes over time, and an entirely proper subject for Wikipedia to cover. There is no shortage of sociological and linguistic work in the area to draw on, and it would be both fun and useful to trace the evolution of a representative sample of key words over the centuries. Or rather, key meanings - for the underlying meanings remains more-or-less constant, while the fashionable euphemism changes from time to time.
Woops! There is an existing entry. I must have misspelled it when searching the other day. Just the same, I think there is room in it for an in-detail examination of three or four historical examples. Yet another thing for my already impossibly long to-do list? Tannin

I want to re-open this discussion.

(1) The blanket prohibition on "gender" meaning "sex" is at best incomplete. This is the most common usage in everyday language (in my experience), and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. What exactly was wrong with the original treatment:

Gender is commonly used as a synonym for sex, refering to "males" and "females" classified according to genotypic differences and distinct primary and secondary sex characteristics. This usage is considered incorrect by some.

I think this was perfect. The dictionary definition certainly supports this view (much more than it supports the prohibition on gender=sex).

I agree (unsurprising really - I wrote it)

(2) This page leaves the impression that one meaning of the word "gender" is equivalent to "gender role". I don't believe that this is true, and again the dictionary definition does not support this. Instead, the difference between "sex" and "gender" is a nuance. The former is commonly used when discussing biological topics, and the latter is commonly used when discussing sociological topics. But just because the discussion is sociological doesn't mean that it throws the biology out the window. E.g. the "gender gap" does not refer to the unequal status of the different gender roles, but the unequal status if the different genders (i.e. sexes). Keeping "gender" and "gender role" distinct is useful and important.

(See also the discussion at the bottom of Talk:Gender-neutral_pronoun.)


Here I disagree. The page isn't saying that gender role is a synonym for gender - it's saying that the sociological concept of gender is described at the article on gender roles. Similarly fubar redirects to snafu - the two acronyms express subtly different ideas - but the differences are sufficiently small that they can both be succinctly described at the same article. Martin

The second bullet more or less says that gender is a role. Or at least something in that ballpark. Plus, look at the "see" directions on bullets 1 and 4 - they're pointing to synonyms. That's why I think it's confusing.

I made a bunch of changes, let me know what you think. --GGano

Slrubenstein, my questions are:

  • Just to clarify this usage, does usage 3 imply the belief that sex and gender can be different, and that there aren't just 2 genders?
  • Isn't the article on "gender roles" talking about something different than this? Usage 3 here is not talking about whether the person is aggressive or nurturing, but whether they are taking the role of a male or female, right? It seems to me that if a person of female gender can be aggressive, then it's not true that this usage of "gender" is discussed on the "gender role" page.
  • Do all (or almost all) social scientists use "gender" is this way, or only some?
  • Perhaps some social scientists use "gender" in the nuanced way I indicate above - i.e. gender is the same thing as sex, but you use this word when talking about sociological issues - but some use it in the way you're describing? That's my guess.



Re: the recent edit, I don't care whether you're thinking "outside the box" (and assuming that the rest of us aren't), you STILL must make a neutral article. Which means you cannot definitively state that gender identity is a construct. You must qualify it, because not everyone holds this belief. Just because you happen to believe it is correct does not mean you can put it that way in Wikipedia. Shall we say instead, "Radical feminists believe that gender identity is a social construction", or something of the sort? Graft

Say what you like about gender identity, but please say it at gender identity. This is a disambiguation page, not a wikipedia article - in an ideal world, nobody would ever see it. To my mind, the most important purpose is to get three different kinds of reader to the correct destination: readers of linguistics to grammatical gender, readers of biology to sex, and readers of sociology to gender role aka sex role aka gender identity aka gender paradigm aka gender. Martin

If someone who is appointed to the helping professions is using the Wikipedia to understand and distinguish the particulars of a presenting problem involving physical sex, sexual identity, or gender then it would have meaning to distinguish these concepts together on a page devoted to a bettter understanding of the single concept of "gender" especially since the common confusion is to merge these concepts into one category. Jaimenote

Ah-hah! "Gender identity" is the word I was looking for. Half the problem we've been having is that the "gender role" page confuses gender role and gender identity, which are two different things. See and I'll take this up on the gender role page, but for now I've changed links from gender role to gender identity, which is currently the same page but will hopefully be separated. (Martin's right, those are the pages where the different opinions about gender-as-in-gender-identity belong.) I'm pretty happy with the page as it is now. --GGano

Agreed! There should be a seperate page for Gender Identity as this is a different concept than is Gender Role. Role is something we perform or assume, identity is more constitutional in our development and there is another can of worms! I hope that the Gender Identity link will no longer be redirected to role as this appears to be an oversight. Jaimenote

Done! --GGano

Thank you and Good Work!!

Very close... OK, Sexologists have studied gender identity. These studies indicate that gender identity is fixed by the second year of development. This would suggest that a drag queen would not be able to adopt a true gender identity that corresponds with the female sex and role. At most they would be able to assimilate and perform the gender role which most cultures attribute to the female sex. Commonly this is a melodramatic or stylized performance of that role termed, "flamboyant." Jaimenote

People may wish to check through the pages that link to gender role, gender identity, and sex, and check that they all link to the right place. I know I made a few links to gender role that probably should have gone to gender identity. Martin

Sorry to bring it up again....

I know you've all been over this, but the use of genders for connectors- as far as I can tell- probably predates the field of gender studies altogether (I'm assuming it started around the 1970's or later). Thus it seems rather odd that the use of gender=sex in the sociology of the past generation or two led to mechanics and plumbers and engineers at least two generations ago using the terms. May I propose that the paragraph be reworded as:
The use of gender as a synonym for sex, referring to the physical characteristics commonly used to differentiate male from female, is typically considered deprecated in modern sociology. The use of "gender" to describe the style of protrusions and/or indentations on connectors and fasteners, however, predates the development of modern gender studies and is thus considered correct in engineering, electronics, and related fields.
--BillyL 06:43, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The use of genders for grammar dates to Protagoras in the fifth century. Hyacinth 07:11, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Do not revert non-vandalism as vandalism

Excuse me, but AlexR just reverted my changes, which were clearly NOT vandalism. Marking them as vandalism when they're not is a violation of Wikipedia policy. I'm moving the changes back. -Nathan J. Yoder 12:41, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I think I agree. Nathan's edits were clearly in good faith, and well-argued in the summary. I agree with most of them. That doesn't mean that his version is perfect, and I am sure with some extra work we can find a superior explanation that covers the viewpoints expressed by both sides of the debate. But Nathan's edit were far from vandalism. But instead of discussing editorial policy and perceived rudeness, let's look at the changes:
  1. Nathan removed the following without subsitute: "Gender expression is commonly attributed to self-expression and innate characteristics, nature vs. nurture, and reaction to societal acceptance and oppression". Fine by me, since I don't understand it. If somebody wants to put it back, explain what it means (it might be genuinely interesting).
  2. There was a long explanation of the etymology and and "correct usage" of the word gender in the old version. That passage extremely POVish. Nobody can claim ownership of a common noun and write normatively about what it is supposed to mean. Not even on the basis of etymology. Obviously, the semantic POV itself is interesting and needs to presented here, since it is a central part of the debate, but the old version started with this: "Gender is often, and incorrectly, used as a synonym for sex". Well, my dictionary does exactly that. Calling it incorrect is POV.
  3. Nathan made the new (short, but relatively neutral version) a stub, inviting further collaboration. I think that is fine, but don't care either way.
What's next? We need somebody to present the POV of the "gender is a social construct" in a neutral voice. I'm sure that is doable. Maybe we can salvage parts of the older version and just improve the wording a bit by introducing weasel terms? It's not perfect, but doable and keeps information about the existence of this POV on this page. AlexR, could you do that? Arbor 13:30, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Nathan's edits were pointless, and the reason given for them phony at best. I also did note his latest edits on the talk page, only I saw nothing there that was worth answering; especially given his usual "style" in debates. This is going RfC now. -- AlexR 19:12, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I've just come onto this page as part of the RfC and I'm slightly confused about the precise nature of the dispute here. Examining the last revert by Nathan J. Yoder I can see the following changes have been made:
  • "Gender, for the purposes of this article, is the perceived or projected (self-identified) masculinity or femininity of a person or characteristic." - The removal of charactersitic seems amibgous here. Surely gender can also be applied to things? What possible objections exist for the removal here?
  • " to physical sex, male and female, as conventionaly determined. Gender expression is commonly attributed to self-expression and innate characteristics, nature vs. nurture, and reaction to societal acceptance and oppression." - This whole section was deleted for no good reason I can ascertain. I admit erhaps the use of "commonly" is a bit POV and could be modified, otherwise I have no idea what further objections could arise from this sectoin.
  • The rest of the content on this page has been completely deleted in what appears to be an attemp to whitewash this article of any alternative definition of gender. It's true, gender is commonly used as a synonym for sex, but it is equally true that gender can be used to describe characteristics seperate to sex. Deletion here does not seem warranted - modifications.
I note that Njyoder says "see talk" in the edit summary for his last edit but I can see no justification or proper attempt to explain his changes on this talk page. Further explanation here would be useful. --Axon 12:43, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

I explained most of why I edited the stuff in the edit summary itself and Arbor clarified my reasoning fairly well, hence I referred him back to the talk page. It is disingenuous for you to suggest that I was in the wrong for referring him to the talk page when clearly someone explained my edits. He just utterly refused and violated several guidelines and policies in the process. He took it to RfC without even bothering to make the slightest attempt to explain why he wrongfully reverted my edits as vandalism (a violation of wikipedia policy).

A request for a fuller explanation of Nathan's edits on the talk page does not seem "disingenuous" to me: one editor's remarks do not constitute a consensus on a satisfactory explanation and I'd like to be informed as to the reasons and positions of the various people topic. Also, reverting an edit does not constitute a breach of policy per se, and a RfC seems like a reasonable way to settle a dispute - wgar specifically do you take exception to? --Axon 09:28, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

1. I removed characteristic because it doesn't make sense to refer to a characteristic as a gender. There are masculine and feminine characteristics, but not male and female characteristics.

Of course there are - in the west, for example, long hair is generaly considered a female characteristic, a deep voice a male. And so on ... [AR]
Umm, no. There is definitely a significant distinction between "feminine" and "female": for example, the distinction between the sex organs is "female and male", while hair is "feminine and masculine". – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure why you consider "feminine" is not related to gender yet "female" is? Surely a feminine characteristic is considered to be female? Female is the feminine gender[2]. -Axon 09:41, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
"Gender, for the purposes of this article, is the perceived or projected (self-identified) masculinity or femininity of a person [or characteristic]."
Well, there are problems no matter which way you interpret this sentence, so I'll go for a different interpretation to explain what it doesn't fit. Masculinity and femininity are, by definition, the characteristics typically associated with males and females. Thus, the end of that sentence, with the "characteristic" addition would be saying "characteristics typically associated with being male and female are used to describe characteristics."
The other interpretations don't make sense either, which I was getting at before. Like with the case of hair you don't say "that's a male hairstyle," you say "that's a masculine hairstyle." A better example might be saying "he's very male" instead of "he's very masculine." One refers to the gender itself, the other refers to one or more of the characteristics associated with the gender. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
In my mind it seems prefectly valid to say a man has a "male hairstyle". One can just as easily say "he's very male". A characteristic that is male can be described as masculine and male.Axon 10:09, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

2. The whole "nature vs. nurture" sentence is so horribly convuluted it doesn't even make sense, thus I removed it. Arbor doesn't seem to understand what it means either. If someone wants to put a clarified sentence back in proper English, then do so, but until then it's out.

Just because two people do not understand a sentence that is no reason to remove it. [AR]
That sentence was terribly constructed. Sure, it could have remained, but in any case, it doesn't belong in the lead paragraph. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
And that is 3 people now who don't understand it. When people keep saying that the sentence was very poorly formed, maybe you should take it as a hint that, *gasp*, it's poorly formed. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
I think the point made here is that a poorly formed sentence should be corrected and not deleted --Axon 10:09, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

3. As I and Arbhor said, this etymology has no place here. Wikipedia is not a dictionary, nor does it allow subjective, POV interpretations of etymology. It used wonderful phrases like "dismay can still be found concerning the term's replacement of sex" and "Gender is often, and incorrectly, used as a synonym for sex". They are clearly POV and should be removed.

Unfortunately, you are wrong as far as the dictionary part is concerned - Wikipedia is not a dictionary refers to entries that are dicdefs only, it most certainly does not prohibit adding such information to a genuine article.
As for the "dismay", well, that can be found, there are still people out there who argue either that "gender" as seperate from "sex" does not exist, or who protest that an originally mainly gramatical term should not get a new meaning. If you don't like the sentence, put in a better one - don't remove content, though. [AR]
As for the "incorrectly" that is plainly and simply correct - those who don't think there is any difference between "sex" and "gender" don't use "gender" at all, while some people who use it use it incorrectly synonymously. Besides, your criticism regarding that sentence obviously only covers two words out of it - so why remove the whole sentence? [AR]
You've got to be kidding me here. The general consensus here has already been reached that gender=sex and it is also agreed upon by all the major dictionary. "Often incorrectly" is factually WRONG. The rest of the sentence was based on the assertion that it's incorrect, so it all had to be removed. "Dismay" is quite obviously POV and if you notice that you're the only one who thinks it is not. Give it up already. Being persistent is one thing, but now you're just being flat out stubborn and thick headed despite EVERYONE opposing you. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
There's no reason to have etymologies here - if someone cares that much, point them to Wiktionary:Gender. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure why we should ignore etymologies - is there a specific Wikipedia injunction against them? If an etymology is of interest in the discussion of a topic and - as we can see from the fervent discussion here - it would seem to be I can think of no reason to ignore it. -Axon 09:41, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Roughly half of the article was about etymology and inaccurate, speculative and POV etymology at that. That would make it into a dictionary entry. Even with just a sentence or two, you have to question its value since it's not the kind of thing someone would use an encyclopedia for and they can always click the wiktionary link for details. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
The point is not that the entymologies are incorrect but that there is nothing preventing a discussion of entymologies in a wikipedia article. The entymology does not seem "POV" in my mind and you have yet to explain why it is POV and provide evidence to back up your claims. Axon 10:09, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

Another POV etymological statemet: "Gender is also evolving in this usage from noun to adjective: it is increasingly being seen as an attribute (like color) rather than as a distinct entity in itself." is completely unsubstantiated. I've never heard anyone say "that color is male/female." A color being preferred by a gender doesn't make it a gender in itself. This usage is non-existant.

You are joking, right? Nobody in their right mind will understand that sentence as "colours can be male or female", rather, colour (or size, or weight, or several other things) is an attribute, just as gender can be an attribute. So you might consider restoring that sentence. [AR]
I must agree with you there. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
Since when is gender an attribute? Gender is a set of attributes, it's not an attribute by itself. Masculine and feminine refer to attributes, not male and female. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

The only statement that was actually half-accurate, NPOV and made sense regarding etymology was this: "The English noun "gender" is derived from the Old French word genre, meaning "kind of thing". It goes back to the Latin word genus (meaning "kind", "species")." It isn't quite right though. Not that it belongs in an encyclopedia (as opposed to a dictionary) entry anyway.

Whoever wrote this etymology stuff was not only very POV, but they didn't really do their research that well. It's complete garbage for any standpoint.

Unfortunately, you have nothing whatever to proove that claim, and as for the stuff belonging here, see above. [AR]
There are several minor errors, and it doesn't belong in any case. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure that it does not belong. Citing Wikipedia policy prohibiting discussion of etymology in an article would be helpful here. Otherwise, minor errors should be corrected and not deleted outright. -Axon 09:41, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
This is silly AR, everyone has agreed that there is not just POV, but _obvious_ POV. I don't know of any wikipedia policy on it, but I think it's out of place. There's a template specifically for linking to wiktionary and they can do just that in case the person wants to know the etmology. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:22, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
Are you responding to AR's comments or mine? Furhtermore, everyone has not agreed the section is POV despite your claims: there is no consensus on this page yet and you should not claim so.Axon 10:09, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

4. The rest of the sentences I removed because the language was so poorly phrased that it didn't make much sense, like with the "nature vs. nurture" sentence. I tried to rephrase some of it, but the rest was too nonsensical to salvage. The whole statement preceding "nouns and pronouns are said to have a grammatical gender", for example, is very poorly phrased.

Correct it, if you can - you cannot go around and remove stuff just because you think it should be expressed better. [AR]
It wasn't necessarily incomprehensible, but there was a great deal of extraneous material; "Gender associations are constantly changing as society progesses. For example, the color pink was considered masculine in the early 1900s and is now seen as feminine" sounds much better than "This aggregate gender is often not easily categorized simply, although societies may tend to assume simple binary categorizations, as Western culture on the basis of what is often seen as natural sex division. The extreme of this belief is called essentialism, while its opposition is constructionism. Gender associations are constantly being renegotiated, as, for example, the color pink, considered masculine in the early 1900s, is now seen as feminine, and vice versa for blue. Gender is also evolving in this usage from noun to adjective: it is increasingly being seen as an attribute (like color) rather than as a distinct entity in itself," for example. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

Given that AlexR reverted my changes as vandalism (in violation of wikipedia policy and guidelines) and immediatly went to rfc suggest that he's not actually willing to address this in any remotely objective manner. I'm also willing to bet that given his history, he probably tried to recruit some people off #wikipedia on IRC to bully me out of the article (he frequently pastes links there to gender related articles when someone makes changes he doesn't like).

Also, given that you have a history of trying to push POV in gender and sexuality related articles (in spite of general consensus disagreeing with you), that you deliberately ignored the explanation on the talk page, you deliberately ignored obvious POV phrases in the article, I doubt you have any real intention of being objective either. I know both of your histories and I know you're both acting in bad faith here. -Nathan J. Yoder 16:41, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

Am I "both" now? I didn't know I suffer from schizophrenia, but thanks for the infomation. As for good faith or bad faith, well, let others decide that. -- AlexR 22:34, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
Ah, facetiousness. It only works if your point is correct. – ugen64 22:48, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
That seems a little unnecesarily snarky. Apologies if you were joking but let's try and keep this civil. I'm unfamiliar with AlexR's "histories" but I do know that Nathan caused an edit war that blocked Bisexuality and also has a history of making controversial edits to articles that cause issues. Perhaps AlexR was a little hasty in reverting Nathan's edits as vandalism but equally I don't think Nathan sufficiently explained his non-trivial changes. --Axon 09:28, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Are you kidding me? There is no "perhaps" about it, his revert as vandalism was totally inappropriate and out of line. If you can't even acknowledge that, then you're ridiculously biased. I gave a complete explanation for my edits and if you don't like the explanation why not reply to my points instead of just saying "oh it's wrong"? All you're doing is reinforcing the fact that you don't want to cooperate and follow wikipedia guidelines in settling a dispute. Additionally, I don't have a history of "controversial edits." That's completely disingenuous to say. You're referring to a single edit I made on a single article which you and AlexR threw a fit over. I'm sorry, but even if that edit was controversial, a single edit does not count as being a "history of controversial edits." Please keep on making yourself look bad. -Nathan J. Yoder 20:14, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
Please tone down the personal insults, Nathan. As I recall, you made more than a couple of reverts and edits on the bisexuality page and started a minor edit war through your own deletion of content. I see no reason not to mention this in light of your own accusations against AlexR. Now, I've been civil and open to discussion with you but I don't really see anything in the above remarks that might convince me or another editor that you are particularly inclined cooperate either. Also, please do not see my criticism of AlexR's edits an endorsement of your own edits. --Axon 10:44, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
  • At least I hope we can all get a good laugh off the fact that this stub has now been sorted as a sex-stub. :-) Arbor 20:02, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

AlexR's edit got removed? A bug with Mediawiki?

I just noticed that AlexR, without even consulting the talk page, tried reverting the same thing he did before. The only difference is that he didn't call it vandalism this time, he just said it was reverting a large removal of text. After I reverted back to my version, his edit disappeared for some reason (it does not show up in the history), so it looks on the history page like I reverted my version to my version, instead of reverting AlexR's version to mine. Is this a bug or did an admin do something? -Nathan J. Yoder 14:19, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Odd, I checked and you can get a diff of the two versions (mine and AlexR's) as linked from my Watchlist page, but not a diff from the history page which just shows my version diffed against my version (meaning no changes). His edit summary was "Revert widespread removal of content". Here is a url provided by the 'diff' link on my watchlist page. -Nathan J. Yoder 14:27, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

What's wrong with this page?

(Arbor speaking:) It seems we are quite a few editors who have found this page now. Some have previous issues related to this page or similar ones, and issues with each other. But I am confident that our combined brainpower, editing skills, and civility will be able to improve what we have found here to our mutual satisfaction.

I have looked through the talk page, and clicked through the article's history for some snapshots of its evolution. In 2003, this page was as a disambiguation page for the term gender, and I think it was in pretty good shape then. The biggest change comes in 2004, when a new disambiguation pages was made, and the current page focussed on one the word's meanings, namely the one dominating in American academia. I am not sure this was a good idea. The pages for gender identity and gender role are pretty good (at least, they look good to an interested outsider like me), while the current gender page in its various forms wasn't. Moreover, this has led to heated debates over what the word really means, and futile arguments about whether or not the meaning " gender = sex " is (1) common, (2) outdated, (3) correct, or (4) offensive. Before I have read more about his, I am not able to make a decision about which POV should "own" the word, and I may change my mind about this, but naïvely it seems that Wikipedia shouldn't have an opinion about this at all. Wikipedia should avoid being a normative reference for semantics, especially not when those semantics form (what seems to be) an important part of a dispute. We're not a dictionary, and we're certainly not a POV dictionary or a soapbox. (Maybe I need to think this through more…)

Questions from me to you:

  1. My immediate reaction would be a page called something like Gender (sociology). Is this sensible? Such a page would be allowed to start with For the purpose of this article, gender means…. It could even explain the etymological argument for this, which I personally find interesting, and explain the dispute over it.[Arbor]
    Why? One might argue the starting sentence is improvable, but I see no reason to move this page to gender (sociology) since the only other main use already has its own article, namely, Grammatical gender. And by now, gender in the non-grammatical sense sure exceeds the use in the grammatical sense, too. [AR]
    That's NOT the only other use, it's already been well established that gender=sex is a valid alternate use. You're deliberately ignoring what people have already reached a general consensus on, please stop lying to make a point. -Nathan J. Yoder
    I agree with AlexR, here: I see no good reason to make sucha distinction here. Besides, creating a seperate page simply to avoid disputes (seperate parties working on seperate pages) is against Wikipedia policy, AFAIK. --Axon 11:09, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
    If there is no seperate page, then it should cover both rather than being limited to just non-biological gender. The proposal for the new page wasn't to avoid a dispute, it was to reorganize it in a way that makes more sense. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:54, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
  1. Amazingly, I agree with you here, Nathan: the page should cover both non-biological and biological gender, although I would argue that "biological gender" is itself open to some dispute given the experiences of transexuals and middlesex individuals. 10:18, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
    Of course, one can argue very much whether something like a "biological gender" exists at all - and that what is occasionally meant by that is already covered in sex. Well, article is due for a re-write anyway, so let's see how we do it there. -- AlexR 12:52, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
  1. The current page seems to be about the word gender and what it should mean. I think this page would benefit from an overview of how this word in other languages. What do German sociologists do, AlexR? They can't use Geschlecht, can they? This includes Englishes outside the US. I also looked up "gender" in Project Gutenberg to find some older usages and see how it has been used before 1960. This is original research of course, but somebody else must have done a verifiable study if people care so much. (I don't, frankly.) [Arbor]
    I doubt there is much use in bringing in other languages, the situation is bound to be different. For example, German started to use "Geschlecht" and "Geschlechtsorgane"; but of course "Geschlecht" has far less associations with sex (the action) to begin with, hence posing less of a problem. It was more "dual meaning" from the start. In recent years, though, influenced by English, "gender" has started to become widely used, at least in formal and academic texts; it is, however, contrasted far more with "körperliches Geschlecht" or similar than with "sex" because "Sex" is pretty much "sex (the action)" only in German.
    British English, BTW, went the same way with "gender", as did Australian, Canadian etc, so this is not a US thing. Also, there are by no means so many people who care in the first place, the only opposition against the whole concept of gender comes from the right wing, which does not appreciate any notions that the equiptment you are born with does not determin how you feel, behave, and love. (See heteronormativity). [AR]
    The original article already brought up its meaning in other languages in the form of incorrect etymology. You're being totally inconsistent. You're not even making sense, how can someone "oppose the concept of gender"? One might oppose a certain analysis of gender, but I've never heard of anyone actually opposing the concept except those from exremist left-wing branches of feminism, the types oh zealously believe that we should use gender neutral terms like "zie" and "zir." Your assertion is not only wrong, it's the opposite of the way it is. -Nathan J. Yoder
    I agree, the issue here is that the biased POV that gender as inherent should be noted and taken into account in the writing of this article. Perhaps a "controversy" section or something similar could be created. I see no reason not to include a discussion of the usage of "gender" and like words in other languages. --Axon 11:09, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
    Because this is the English Wikipedia, hence it should cover just the English language unless the language analysis is directly related to the perception of gender within that culture. It's a purely linguistic history, and doesnt really belong here as it doesn't address the concept of gender. I don't know where this issue is coming from, no one inserted any POV into the article suggesting that gender was inherent and it being inherent or not has nothing to do with the etymology. The only POV inserted into this article was from pople who thought gender was NOT inherent. It's funny how you ignore that most of the etymology inserted was not only wrong and incoherent, but it was also biased in favor of your personal views. Don't scream "OMG POV" when it's people on your side inserting it. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:54, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
    This is the English Wikipedia, but we do not limit ourselves to discussion of English language concerns only: for example, we discuss other languages and I see no reason that we should not discuss the usage of gender in other languages if it has a bearing on the topic under consideration. We do not ignore French language, for example, just because we are English speaking.
    Finally, please tone down the hostility, Nathan. Your uncivility does you argument no favors. Clearly, a group here thinks you removal of content was itself POV and disputes that the content, as it was, was POV. Axon 10:18, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
  2. Could the current page be reduced to a really short disambiguation page? My background is in the sciences, so I looked at spin, which also has a strictly academic meaning (in particle physics) and several other usages (like public relations, etc.) Arbor 11:26, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
    No, definitely not. The reason this page was expanded in the first place what that many people started to redirect every instance of gender to other articles, including [[sex|gender]] . However, many of those links were meant to point to "gender" as the generic term, including all those who derived from it, like gender role and gender identity; so the redirects to those were factually wrong, too. Besides, the usual uses of gender are not that far apart in the first place, unlike many other terms that require a disamig of the classical sort. -- AlexR 16:25, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
    The redirects aren't factually wrong if it's a disambiguation page, which is exactly what this should be. With a disambiguation page the user can easily click which interpretation is meant. It doesn't make sense to be opposed to a disambiguation page, especially considering that the "typical usage" can have multiple meanings. -Nathan J. Yoder
    Again, I agree with AlexR. For the same reasons we should probably avoid a second article being created (see my comments above), we should avoid turning this into a disamb page. Gender describes one thing, even if there is some disagreement over what that thing is. --Axon 11:09, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
    If you agree, then why are you allowing the article to be just about gender as a social construct? You either use seperate pages or you include them in both. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:54, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
    I think you misunderstand my point here, the article should be about both but, according to your own edits, one version should not take precendence over another. Axon 10:18, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

AlexR, why have you not addressed my criticisms of the aritcle? You don't seem the slightest bit interested in a) acknowledging your violation of wikipedia policy and b) being cooperative. Instead, in bad faith, you iniated an RfC against me as a hissy fit. The general consensus is AGAINST you, accept it and stop inserting your POV everywhere. And looking at it further, even the choice of "see also" and "External links" are POV. I'm sorry AlexR, but your bad faith won't cut it, please read Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a soapbox. -Nathan J. Yoder 20:27, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

Nathan, I believe you and I are on the same page wrt how this page could be improved. On the other hand, I don't think your issues with AlexR's editorial policies are much help. I have tried to start a constructive discourse about the future of this page, and would be sorry to see it lost in a bout of angry (and ultimately useless) mudslinging between the two of you.

Back on topic, I think I would be most happy with either

  1. this page is just a disambiguation page
  2. this page favours one of the possible meanings, in which case I would suggest grammatical gender
  3. a really nice encyclopedic article encompassing everything from the geekdom of electrical connectors to the sociopolitical issues considered in gender studies.

Frankly, I would love the latter version, but given this page's history I am not sure if we can find sufficiently talented and benevolent editors for it. Arbor 07:42, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. I've just come in via the RFC: on the basic deadlock, I agreee with Njyoder. AlexR's longer version is full of unsourced and/or POV content: the "often, and incorrectly"; the pink vs blue inversion (where can I find that verified?); the claimed noun-to-adjective shift (again, where can I find evidence?); the "dismay can still be found concerning the term's replacement of sex" (who, apart from AlexR, is "dismayed"?); and so on.
I would like to point out that I am "dismayed" by the deletion of the content from the original article. --Axon 13:11, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
He was asking if you were dismayed by the term's replacement of sex, not by my changes. In any case, to say it is done to "dismay" is an obviously POV statement that AR refuses to admit is POV. This is why I think he should just be banned from gender and sexuality articles, he refueses to conceded even the most blatantly obvious cases of POV. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:54, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
Please tone down your threats: I think it unlikely that anyone will get banned from editing articles at this point. Axon 10:18, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
Also I would like to add that I was most likely not the person who inserted "dismayed" in the article in the first place, so why am I attacked for it? -- AlexR 12:52, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
The current Njyoder version looks fair, but (necessarily, given the situation) uninterestingly abstract. There's a wealth of interesting specific detail that could be added. I see the article as becoming, ideally, a fairly terse but interest-rich introductory overview of the many gender-related topics on Wikipedia. RayGirvan 12:02, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I would really suggest that when people make such statements, they try to get a hint of knowledge first. Lemme see: Re the pink/blue shift, try [3] (first link to come up when one searches Google for "pink blue boy girl"). Re the usage of gender as an adjective - well, have you ever heard of "masculine and feminine"? If my English teachers were not mistaken, those are adjectives, and re: the dismay: I am not dismayed, but you might read the top of the talk page to find a debate about exactly that point. Also, please note that the unvandalized version was not my version, I was hardly the only contributor to it. Mind you, I sure would not mind if the page was improved, but I object to "improving" it by deleting everything Njyoder doesn't like or know about. That is not an improvement. -- AlexR 12:42, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
So the references found at [4] should be cited (Cite sources - "the most important thing is to enter the complete reference information") rather than assuming that readers, who may not even use Google, will divine the precise Google search string. A Yahoo search, for instance, doesn't find those sites. [RayGirvan]
Actually, the linked reference should certainly not be cited, at least no without somebody making sure it is correct. If you read the linked web page, it contains a comment from a reader who actually tried to find the relevant material:
Having read all over the Web the claim that the quotation about pink being most suitable for boys and blue for girls, I went to great lengths to obtain and check a copy of the _Ladies Home Journal_ for June 1918 (the date invariably mentioned) and found no such reference in it whatsoever. It is possible that someone got the date wrong and that this has just been repeated in ignorance. However, as an academic to whom it is important to verify such things I'd like to find out where the quotation actually comes from (perhaps another month of the same journal in the same year)... Dr Daniel Chandler, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Of course, that claim itself may be false as well (Chandler mightn't even exist). But the fact remains that the linked reference doesn't look like something we should trust without further verification. Arbor 05:45, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
I'm well aware that gender can be used an adjective - I'm talking of the claim that it's "evolving in this usage" and "increasingly being seen". It may well be true, but again it needs authoritative citation, or it's just unsubstantiated opinion. A lot of the POV problems here would be helped by adherence to the citation requirement. RayGirvan 13:53, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I've tried this with him in the past, whenever I call him on absurd factual errors, he cries and whines and refuses to provide sources. He's probably the single biggest POV pusher in gender related articles. AlexR, stop referring to my change as vandalism, it is not, everyone agrees that is not, you couldn't more clearly have POV pushing agenda here. And if you're intent on improving it AR, why haven't you added anything to it? In your mind, it's better to have a whole ton of POV information that supports your view, rather than a brief stub that is NPOV. As discussed above, dismay is obviously POV, you have lost at general consensus AS USUAL. "Masculine and feminine" aren't genders, they are used to describe gendered characteristics, but not the genders themselves. -Nathan J. Yoder 05:54, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
You have never tried anything that even remotely came close to trying to find consent. As for this article, I will start working on an improved version soon, I was a bit busy in the last few days. As for the "general consensus" I have allegedly lost ... maybe on another page, or in another reality, but most certainly not here. -- AlexR 12:52, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

I've tried to read up on this subject now. Here's a wonderful reference:

Haig, D. (2004) The inexorable rise of gender and the decline of sex: social change in academic titles, 1945-2001. Archives of Sexual Behavior 33: 87-96.

There's a pdf version at [5]. The paper briefly details the history of the uses of gender for sex, but mainly surveys the social science semantics for gender based on the Science Citation Index. There's even a graph to show us how large a fraction of the academic literature each year uses the term in one sense or the other. Wonderful work. And did you know that what we today call gender role (since 1955, by the way) actually appeared as sex role when it was first defined? Anyway, I think this paper contains much goodness for the basis of our little endeavor here. I'm a bit pressed for time these days, so maybe somebody else wants to abstract the work. Arbor 08:04, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

Agree with criticisms of gender as article. Restored disambig page. Old introduction failed to distinguish the subject matter from that of gender identity, and as such only created unneeded duplication. (Anon)

Obviously, reverted - as already stated above, that is not a good idea. Also, gender is obviously not just gender identity. And kindly sign your entries, and best, get a username; anons don't get much trust, and for a reason. -- AlexR 12:52, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

I learned more from the discussion than from the article, at least in its current version, which seems a very impolite way to compromise hiding ones very personal views behind a NPOV curtain. I do not know if the situation discussed here at length occurs in other languages. The links to at least two other Wikipedias (Spanish and French) make me think that it is not so (I have no idea of the situation in Japanese, Hebrew or Norsk); in both romance languages the relation gender-sex does not seem to have the importance that it has in English. In both cases the interwikipedia-links point to the equivalent of genus (plural genera), which is wrong, they ought to point to the disambiguation pages. In neither language there is a distinct word for gender neither as grammatical or human social sexual identity; in both languages the different concepts are referred to with the equivalent of genus; it seems that this Latin word, the root of both gender and genus came twice, at different times, into English, which is not a rare case.

English Latin Spanish French
sex sexus sexo sexe
gender genus género genre
genus genus género genre

Lcgarcia 07:06, 25 May 2005 (UTC)


During this debate I have been getting increasingly interested in this topic, and I firmly believe that we can write an exciting and informative article about his subject. I hope at least some of you are with me.

Further up, I solicited some comments; let me try to summarise what the answers were (in my opinion)

  1. This page shouldn't be a disambig. (That was my own original suggestion, but I have now understood that making such a page just to avoid controversy is bad and stupid. I stand corrected.) A full fledged page it is. I assume that this entails merging some of the other articles back here, at least in part. (Maybe Grammatical gender can retain its separate article, but there still should be a section on it here focussing on classification that corresponds to the two sexes. (Not on grammatical systems that have other noun classes, like animate/inanimate).)
  2. An overview of the word's etymology is interesting and informative, not at least because of the politically charged shift in meaning since 1960. From this perspective, etymology is certainly Wikipedia material.
  3. How this term is treated in other languages is interesting. Especially, it's illuminating (1) how other languages label the concept of "socially constructed gender". (See Lcgarcia's remarks. I happen to know that it's genus in Swedish.) (2) how grammatical gender may have nothing to do with the word's (biological or social) gender in most languages. The Grammatical gender article already does this.

How to proceed? Should we put a Work in progress sticker on the front page and just start editing? Or should we keep our efforts on a subpage while we're playing? Should we agree on an outline before we start? Should we agree on a definition? Arbor 08:14, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Well, tricky question - I was pretty busy getting an arbitration case together against Njyoder; I really think that it is rather pointless to attempt to have any meaningful debate while he behaves that way. I had already copied the old version of the article to User:AlexR/gender to do some work on it, but hadn't started yet. We have to keep the problem in mind while deciding how to proceed working on the article.
As for the content of the new article, I think we should try to decided what should go into it first - after all, there are already other articles as well dealing with related topics, not just grammatical gender but also gender identity and gender role, and in my opinion those two should also remain seperate articles (some of them in need of improvement, though). There are also other articles that do not yet exist, but might some day, like gender expression and gender perception. I would recomment dealing with those matters only briefly here and linking to seperate articles, since each of those terms has quite some debates attached to it; otherwise, this article here would become too long and convoluted.
So that would leave this article with a section on the etymology and usage history of the term, including the formation of the idea that there was something that was not based on biological sex alone, and yet was usualy assiciated with it; the Haig article you found should be an excellent source for parts of that. And we need a section on the sex=gender question, because obviously there are at least two schools of thought here who use it that way: One is the school that denies that biological sex and gender (identiy, role, expression, etc) can be unrelated at all, and the other is, quote Haig: "Among the reasons that working scientists have given me for choosing gender rather than sex in biological contexts are desires to signal sympathy with feminist goals, to use a more academic term, or to avoid the connotation of copulation." (That's of course not counting those who simply don't know the difference between the two terms.)
As for the term in other languages, I would not insist on attributing too much weight to whether they use any form of "genus" for the expression of the concept, nor all that much on what words are used at all. I think the relevant thing is how the concept is accepted in other cultures and languages instead. In India, for example, it is obvious that some notion of an independence of sex and gender exists, compare Hijra; nevertheless, how that is expressed liguistically, I have no idea. -- AlexR 13:04, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
For the sex=gender? question, I even ran into this problem with the Unisex name article (an anon was changing gender to sex). You might look at some of my discussion on the talk page there for ideas on how to cover the issue (Talk:Unisex name#Gender). BlankVerse 16:32, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
Yes, that is exactly the problem we are talking about, although it has the added dimention of the "naturalness" of gender roles; see the feminist discourses. However, it is even more complicated that described there - for example a person with a seemingly female sex but XY chromosomes will usually have a female gender identity, but only usually. Just as a person with XXY usually has an male gender identity - however, somewhat more than can be expected statistically have a female one. (No scientifc counts available, of course.) So far the facts, but you mustn't forget that there are still people who claim there is no difference between sex and gender after all. Very complicated matter. All the more reason to be very clear in this article on a) what is the difference between the terms sex and gender, and b) on the reason they get confused or used synonymously. Interesting also the statement by the anon that a baby doesn't have a gender identity - exactly that is one of the very disputed points. Oh, and BTW: "individuals born who have anomalous or ambiguous genitals at birth" are intersex (although they are not the only intersex people). -- AlexR 17:56, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
I wish I could remember where I read it, or the correct number, but I think that according to what I read there were supposed to be seven different dimensions to sex. Just guess as to what they would be, I could only think of four: genetic, hormonal, body morphology, psychological. BlankVerse 19:02, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
Lemme see - for sex, usually there's chromosomes, gonads, hormone levels, and organs; guess you could split the organs in internal or external or something; sex has a table that has these 5 criteria. It also has 6 different gender criteria ("psychosocial levels"), with the last somewhat debated. Assigned sex, gender of rearing, gender identity, gender role, sexual orientation, and sexual power. You could also add gender presentation and gender perception. Of course, there is also the as yet unanswered question whether gender identity does not really have at least some biologiocal components as well; there are some studies that suggest so. However, currently, the question is still open; if answered positively, it would place at least some gender-variant people among the intersex and gender identity at least to some extend among the sex criteria. -- AlexR 19:53, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Please vandalise my subpage

To get the ball rolling, I have created a subpage at User talk:Arbor/gender User:Arbor/gender and sketched how I think this article might look. Most of the contents I hastily stole from other sources, and this is only meant as a sketch. I encourage others to either make a similar mock-up (if they strongly disagree with my idea) or start improving/editing that subpage (if they basically agree with my idea). There is even an attempt at a definition, which I expect to be the target of close scrutiny and eloquent feedback. Arbor 13:58, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for proposing this. Perhaps you should move it to User:Arbor/gender so it can have an associated talk page? FreplySpang (talk) 16:08, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
Good point. Done.Arbor 17:45, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm putting together an alternative version at User:AlexR/gender (at the time of writing, still working on it), because I do not like the attempt to make the article encompass all that; the connectors, and the grammatical gender, and all that stuff are hardly used so often that they warrant the inclusion; plus, the resulting article would be extremely confusing, in my opinion. I very much advocate that this article should concentrate on the social, psychological etc concept of gender, with links to the appropriate articles where necessary. -- AlexR 18:30, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

AlexR, as you can see from my initial suggestions up-page, I originally advocated the same course of action: to have one page per intended meaning. (I suggested Gender (sociology) for the page you are envisioning.) But some of the other voices on this page convinced me that such an approach would basically just be a "POV fork", or "disambiguating to avoid controversy". And that such a solution would be cowardly and boring. So I completely changed my mind and am now getting very excited about a combined article. (I had no idea this topic was intersting when I accidentally stumbled on this page.) At this stage, is it advisable to have a poll on which philosophy should be pursued? Or will editors just vote with their feet and help on one page or the other? It would be a shame to waste our efforts if and when we have to decide which version to adopt... Arbor 19:20, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I think you misunderstood the objections - they were not towards a page sticking to gender in the sociological sense (plus, arguably, the sex=gender thing). Even Njyoder advocated only a page covering those two meanings, and nobody proposed including for example plugs again. Also, you should not be exactly intimidated by comments by that user; there is a reason, you know, the arbitration request was supported by more people and accepted very quickly.
I therefore stick to my original proposal, namely, have the article at gender cover gender in the sociological/psychological sense, talk about the sex=gender thing, and, if so desired, talk about the concept of sex and gender in various languages; although I think I would prefer a discussion on sex and gender in various cultures instead.
I can't quite make up my mind where a debate regarding languages should go; any lenghty text on that might be something that is not quite in the usual WP style, but rather an essay/articles/study by itself. I am also not sure just how important it is whether a language has a specific word for gender in the sociological/psychological sense at all, isn't the question rather whether the concept itself exists or can be expressed and understood, regardless of how exactly it is expressed? Tricky, that one. Could also easily left till later, since this is the English Wikipedia after all. I think we should concentrate getting the basics done first. -- AlexR 20:06, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Summary style page uploaded

I have been lazy, my apologies for this. However, after the RfC there was some concord (albeit with dissent) to try to make this page into an encyclopedic article about gender, typically as an overview of its various meanings with pointers to more detailed presentations.

Especially, this page has to move away from its attempt to be normative about what gender should mean. I hope we all agree that it is not Wikipedia's business to tell people how a term is correctly applied, especially in the present case, where this very debate is ideologically loaded. (I won't repeat the debate, see above for some lucid explanations of the viewpoints pro et contra.)

As I tried to read up on the subject, I quite fell in love with its different yet related meanings, and think this will make for a wonderful article.

I have tried to make something like that. I also gave my best shot at a definition of the term gender that I hope encompasses all its uses and tries to find a common aspect of these uses (namely, the distinction into categories male and female, or lack thereof.) I assume that this very definition needs more work—improve it!

Even though I think what I uploaded is a pretty good framework, it is far from finished. I think I did a good job on some of the passages, but I ran out of time and energy and think the wiki community will do a better job that I. Frankly, there are some sections about which I know very little, and where I have cut-and-pasted from other WP sources. Attention from the cognoscenti is welcome. Incidentally, the electrical connectors section has been cleaned up by me, much of what the original article said is just plain wrong. (As far as I have been able to determine.) But have an extra look.

The current text is full of HTML comments indicating what I think is missing/lacking/bad/wrong/too little. Have a look.

The section on grammatical gender in indo-european languages is too long compared to the rest of the article, and I hope to be able to fix that real soon now. I am aiming for Wikipedia: Summary style, so each section ideally should be three long, good paragraphs with a pointer to one or more “full” articles. Arbor 07:12, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Grammatical gender, again

I've noticed that this topic causes confusion and controversy. Perhaps that's not surprising, considering that most contributers to the Wikipedia no doubt have as their mother tongue English, which doesn't really have this feature. I propose the following rewrite of the section on grammatical gender. The current version, which has an arcane example in Old English that most readers probably have a hard time following, can be placed in the specific page for "grammatical gender". Opinions, suggestions and criticisms are welcome. (I plagiarized the Wikipedia's page on Swahili just a little bit. I hope that's not a problem.) Nov. 27 2005

All languages can use different nouns to differentiate between people of different biological or social gender, e.g., male and female, man and woman, uncle and aunt, but not all languages have gender in the grammatical sense. In linguistics, grammatical gender refers to the existence of different classes of words, called "genders".

To understand this notion, consider the sentences "The man is tall" and "The woman is tall". In English, the only word that differs between them is the noun "man/woman", which has a direct semantic association with sexual identity. In Spanish, however, one says "El hombre es alto" and "La mujer es alta", respectively. Not only do the words for "man" and "woman" change, "hombre" vs. "mujer", but so do the article and the adjective. Words that refer to a noun must be inflected according to the gender of that noun. This is called "gender agreement". We say that a language has grammatical genders when it requires gender agreement between a noun and other parts of speech that refer to that noun. This is analogous to grammatical number, whereby parts of speech that refer to a noun must be inflected to agree with the number of that noun (singular or plural, in most cases).

In many languages, there is considerable overlap between grammatical and semantic gender, and then it's customary to call one of the genders the "masculine", and another the "feminine". However, grammatical genders are much broader categories, which also include inanimate objects and abstractions, and need not relate to sexuality in any way. For instance, Bantu languages can have more than ten genders, reflecting notions such as "person", "plant" or "tool", but none that corresponds to biological or social gender. Furthermore, even in languages with a masculine and a feminine gender, the correspondence between grammar and semantics is often not perfect. In Spanish, the word miembro (member) is always masculine, even when it refers to a woman, but the word persona (person) is always feminine, even when it refers to a man.

There is often some degree of arbitrariness in the assignment of a noun to a particular gender, but in many languages noun classes tend to be associated with certain word endings or word beginnings. Thus, in Spanish most nouns that end in -o are masculine and most nouns that end in -a are feminine. In Swahili, nouns that begin with m- in the singular and wa- in the plural denote persons, and nouns that begin with m- in the singular but mi- in the plural denote plants. There may be exceptions, however: problema (problem) is masculine in Spanish, and radio (radio station) is feminine.

Old English had three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, but gender inflections (as well as number inflections) were greatly simplified, and then merged with one another. The only trace of grammatical gender left in modern English are the personal pronouns he, she, it. Finnish, a language that never had any genders, has only one third person singular pronoun, hän.

Gender assignment is often different for animals than it is for humans. For example, in Spanish an ostrich is always un avestruz (masculine) and a snake is always una cobra (feminine), regardless of their biological sex. If it becomes necessary to specify the sex of the animal, an adjective is added, as in un avestruz hembra (a female ostrich). Even in English, it's interesting to note that people concerned with gender neutrality in language avoid referring to a person of unknown gender as it--a pronoun traditionally reserved for "things" and "animals"--preferring instead to use the originally plural pronoun they.

Your contributions are welcome, but I'm not too sure about some of your concrete suggestions. 1. The Old English example is used specifically because more readers will appreciate an ancient (but barely understandable) dialect of their own language than of any other language (like Spanish or German). Also, it covers a historical aspect about English having lost its gender system. 2. The "22 genders of Bantu" (or whatever language or gender system you might want to mention) are a touchy subject. Many linguists would tell you that these aren't genders but noun classes. I don't have an opinion on that, but Wikipedia shouldn't have either, and it certainly isn't a good example. (The opinion that "not all noun classes are genders" certainly would benefit from some exposure on this page.) Let's keep talking here, the article is certain to improve from your attention. Arbor 08:48, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your feedback. Regarding 1, the current version of the text says it is a "highly contrived" example. Since grammatical gender can be a mysterious concept for native speakers of English, I thought a very plain example might be preferable. Also, in the OE example the noun refers to an inanimate object. It's not immediately apparent why the class to which the word "shield" belongs should be called the "feminine". I think it's more suggestive to begin with an example where the noun refers to a person, and biological gender is meaningful, and then extent the concept to objects, abstractions, and animals. I was thinking of putting the example in Old English in the specific page on grammatical gender, but now that you drew my attention to it I've changed my mind. Tell me what you think of the new version of my proposal, below.

Regarding 2, I do realise there is debate over how to count genders in Bantu languages, and I've changed the text to "more than ten", which seems like a more conservative calculation.

About not all noun classes being genders, I am not familiar with the arguments in support of that position. Perhaps it's because not all noun class systems have a "masculine" and a "feminine"... But, if the "neuter" can be called a "gender" in German and Old English, why not other noun classes? The original meaning of "gender" is "kind", after all. It doesn't have to be related to sexuality. And I think there are cases of languages in whose evolution the masculine and the feminine merged, leaving a "neuter" an "animate" category, or vice-versa. It seems inconsistent to stop calling them genders just because there stopped being a "masculine" and a "feminine". That would make the grammatical notion of gender dependent on sexual identity, when I think an important point to make about grammatical gender is that it doesn't necessarily mirror biological or social notions of gender.

On another note, I was thinking of removing the paragraphs named "Gender in Indo-European languages" and "Gender in other languages" from the main page, and taking them to the grammatical gender page, where there already is a more indepth discussion of gender in Indo-European and other language families. The paragraph on "Gender in other languages" has very little to say, and I see no reason to give a special place to Indo-European languages in this page.

Looking forward to your opinions. Nov. 30 2005.

All languages can use different nouns to differentiate between people of different biological or social gender, e.g., male and female, man and woman, uncle and aunt, but not all languages have gender in the grammatical sense. In linguistics, grammatical gender refers to the existence of different classes of words, called "genders".

To understand this notion, consider the sentences "The man is tall" and "The woman is tall". In English, the only word that differs between them is the noun "man/woman", which has a direct semantic association with sexual identity. In Spanish, however, one says "El hombre es alto" and "La mujer es alta", respectively. Not only do the words for "man" and "woman" change, "hombre" vs. "mujer", but so do the article and the adjective. Words that refer to a noun must be inflected according to the gender of that noun. This is called "gender agreement". We say that a language has grammatical genders when it requires gender agreement between a noun and other parts of speech that refer to that noun. This is analogous to grammatical number, whereby parts of speech that refer to a noun must be inflected to agree with the number of that noun (singular or plural, in most cases).

In many languages, there is considerable overlap between grammatical and semantic gender, and then it's customary to call one of the genders the "masculine", and another the "feminine". However, grammatical genders are much broader categories, which also include inanimate objects and abstractions, and need not relate to sexuality in any way. For instance, Bantu languages can have more than ten genders, reflecting notions such as "person", "plant" or "tool", but none that corresponds to biological or social gender.

Old English had three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, but gender inflections (as well as number inflections) were greatly simplified, and then merged with one another. Curzan illustrates gender agreement in Old English with a “highly contrived” example:

Seo brade line wæs tilu and ic hire lufod.
(Literal translation:) That broad shield was good and I her loved.

The noun lind (shield) is grammatically feminine, and forces the pronoun seo (the, that) and the adjectives brade (broad) and tilu (good) to appear in their feminine forms. Notably for Modern English speakers, the pronoun hire, referring back to lind, is feminine, adopting the grammatical gender of the referent. By comparison, Modern English uses natural gender, where the noun's class agrees with the sex (or sexlessness) of the referent:

That broad shield was good and I loved it.

Here, the shield is understood as a sexless object, and is referred to by the neuter pronoun, it. The only trace of grammatical gender left in modern English are the personal pronouns he, she, it. Finnish, a language that never had any genders, has only one third person singular pronoun, hän.

Even in languages with masculine and feminine genders, the correspondence between grammar and semantics is often not perfect. In Spanish, the word miembro (member) is always masculine, even when it refers to a woman, but the word persona (person) is always feminine, even when it refers to a man. Thus, grammatical gender is, to some extent, a matter of convention.

On the other hand, it is often related to noun morphology: in Spanish most nouns that end in -o are masculine and most nouns that end in -a are feminine. In Swahili, nouns that begin with m- in the singular and wa- in the plural denote persons, and nouns that begin with m- in the singular but mi- in the plural denote plants. There may be exceptions, however: problema (problem) is masculine in Spanish, and radio (radio station) is feminine.

Gender assignment is often different for animals than it is for humans. For example, in Spanish a cheetah is always un guepardo (masculine) and a zebra is always una cebra (feminine), regardless of their biological sex. When it becomes necessary to specify the sex of the animal, an adjective is added, as in un guepardo hembra (a female cheetah). It's interesting to note that even people concerned with gender neutrality in English avoid referring to a person of unknown gender as it--a pronoun traditionally reserved for "things" and "animals"--preferring instead to use the pronoun they, originally a plural.

Good stuff. Ideally, the grammatical gender section on the current page should be a three-paragraph summary of grammatical gender (see Wikipedia: Summary style), so both the current text and your suggestions are too long anyway. I suggest that we move to grammatical gender and get that article into better shape. Afterwards we can abstract the result into gender with focus on (1) the masculine/feminine dichotomy (which is what this page is about) and (2) the possible lack of coherence between grammatical gender and natural gender of a sexed object. Arbor 20:55, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Very well. See here,

I have rewritten the other page. Since there don't seen to be any objections, I have proceeded to edit this one as well. Dec. 8 2005.

Gender affirmation

I flat-out removed a newly added section on gender affirmation. Some parts were simply rants which have no place here. The rest seemed interesting enough, and I tried to reword it, but in doing so I became convinced that I had actually no idea what was meant by the term. Maybe somebody who wants to fight for this concept would like to try to re-insert a paragraph, hopefully with a more transparent explanation. Arbor 09:38, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

You're being too generous... that section was clearly added by someone who was interested in promoting a POV, not improving this article. Catamorphism 10:27, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree. But there is lots of good information on WP that was originally contributed by POV-pushers. In itself that is not a problem, as long as other editors massage the material into an NPOV presentation. Arbor 11:07, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Maven's word of the Day

It is an odd reference - can we replace it with something more serious? Anyone feel strongly about keeping it? - Samsara contrib talk 22:02, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree, it doesn't contribute much. Be bold! Catamorphism 22:21, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I made the change and also nominated for WP:AID. - Samsara contrib talk 22:51, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I put that in originally. The examples found by MwoTD (Harper, NYT,etc.) were all good, informative, and relevant. Since I myself didn't check those sources, the reference to MwoTD is standard procedure. The point made by the removed paragraph is certainly a very good description of current use. Unless we find a better description of current use, I see little reason to remove it. I did find a sterling reference for this useage shift within academia (Haig), and have made good use of it. But the article still needs a usage description outside of academia (for example, in the press, of which Harpers, NYT, etc. are good examples). We could dig out such examples ourselves, but why should we? We want to avoid Original Research. Arbor 11:41, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
The etymology section looked very patchworkish with all those indented literal quotations. Can we somehow make it look more flowing and coherent? Ideally, we want this article to be more than a collection of random quotes, and we should avoid giving that impression, even if unfounded. I'm fine with keeping it if we can make it look smart. - Samsara contrib talk 21:15, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Grammatical gender revisted

To revive this thread, I'd like to take up Arbor's last suggestion to add to the article an explanation of "the possible lack of coherence between grammatical gender and natural gender of a sexed object".

From the first sentence: "...gender refers to the masculinity or femininity of words..." — but as above pointed out, it doesn't. Linguists have adopted a convention of using the terms "masculine" and "feminine" to describe classes of nouns in those languages that have a partial semantic relationship between these noun classes and male/female distinctions. But they don't usually describe the "masculinity" or "femininity" of the noun (eg. Die Maschine, the machine, is feminine in German). I think some confusion could have been avoided if linguists had called it "grammatical genre" instead of "gender" (maybe with "alpha class" and "beta class" nouns)!

The second sentence reads: "The classification into masculine and feminine is analogous to the biological sexes of male and female, often by physical or syntactical analogy, linguistic decay..." — I don't see how die Maschine is "feminine" by physical or syntactic analogy to the biological sex of female. As for linguistic decay, I'm not quite sure what that means, but to me it implies that long ago there was a semantic relationship between femaleness and a root word that evolved into the modern word "Maschine". I don't believe this is actually how Maschine became a "feminine" noun.

The "Grammatical gender" paragraph is good, but the examples imply a necessary relationship between natural gender and grammatical gender. I don't mean to seem pedantic but I think pointing out the distinction actually says a lot about the social import of non-grammatical gender too. If there is no objection to my ideas, I will have a go at rephrasing the lead section and the garmmatical gender section. ntennis 11:21, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

First, I am not a linguist either, but die Machine is likely an example of "syntactic analogy" (your brain and mine wants to treat Maschine as it does die Kusine, which is obviously feminine).
Second, my own version of the Grammatical Gender section spent a lot more time on explaining how the grammatical genders came up in the first place, and what they have to do with sex. See [6], mostly stolen from the old Encyclopeda Britannica, IIRC. In the current version of our article, this linguistic-historical perspective is absent. (To my regret. I would like to have it back because I think that is the important perspective on grammatical gender for this page. I completely understand that Grammatical gender as a linguistic category can and should be understood without ever worrying about the relationship between natural and grammatical gender—for all intents and purposes there is none. In effect, it's really a discussion about whether we want the subsection on Grammatical Gender to be an introduction to Grammatical gender, or to the phenomenon of using gender terminology to classify word classes. I would prefer the latter, because I think this article would become more interesting. But I certainly understand the merits of having the Grammatical gender section be about, well, grammatical gender.)
Third, I bemoan the existence of the concept of "grammatical gender" (instead of "noun class") as much as the next person. It is a useless (and even misleading) labeling.
Fourth, by all means, go ahead with your edits! No reason to seek permission. Arbor 11:45, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

OK, will have a go at it :) Thanks for the link to old version. I'm a little confused by the "syntactic" analogy from Kusine to Maschine — wouldn't the analogy be phonological? ntennis 12:20, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Urk. I am on really thin ice here: I guess the phonological similarity of Kusine and Maschine makes the grammar engine in my brain treat them syntactically the same: zwei Maschinen (plural), der Preis der Maschine (genitive case), etc.. Hence it makes sense to treat them as the same noun class. Whether all syntactic analogy derives from “sounds-like“... no idea. Arbor 13:50, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Hi. Another non-linguist here, but my native language has genders. Actually, the confusion between grammar and sexuality is the other way around. The word "gender" was used first as a grammatical term, in antiquity. See the note on etymology in the main page about gender. It's we modern folks who, in these gender-conscious times, assume that the sexual meaning is the natural one, and the grammatical meaning is a perversion of it. I don't speak German, so I can't really explain why Maschine is feminine, but I will say this: it's also feminine in French, and I think it was feminine in Latin. Could German have got the word from French? (English seems to have got "machine" from French; notice the unusual spelling). Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that -in is a common feminine suffix in German (unstressed, though). Grammatical gender is first and foremost a convention. There's no use in looking for symbolism in it. It just isn't there. Here's an interesting opinion on the origin of genders in Indo-European: :) 17:40, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't think that the term was first used in antiquity about grammar. The terms gender/masculine/feminine (or rather, their Greek equivalents) certainly existed before Aristotle used them for nouns. It is Aristotle's "fault" that we are using the analogy to the sexes to classify words. Arbor 06:00, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps, but the term did not originally have an exclusively sexual sense, either. Gender = kind. The origin of the word is exactly the same as that of the biological term genus. FilipeS 13:48, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Of course. The terms male and female are the "problem". Not the word gender. Arbor 15:22, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I see what you mean, but may I point out that the terms used in liguistic contexts are "masculine" and "feminine", usually in conjunction with "gender" ("masculine gender", "feminine gender")? I would think this clears any ambiguities... FilipeS 16:15, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussing the definition

OK, User:Ntennis has opened up the can of worms that is the definition of the very term. This is great, and I am sure the page improves from it, but maybe we can discuss some issues here—just to prevent a tedious and potentially confrontational edit war. Some of the things that are important to me:

  1. Gender should not be a term that is defined for homo sapiens in the first paragraph. (Currently, it's in the second sentence. I liked my own, very general definition that used lots of concepts (words, things, organisms). The second paragraph would be a great place to give extra attention to homo sapiens. The third paragraph of the introduction would be a great place to point to controversies.
  2. The fact that "some people" use gender in contrast to sex is important, but not important enough for the very first paragraph. Because at least as many people use gender as a synonym for sex. In fact, many more do. (See the paper I linked that actually studies this.) The idea that gender is not sex is (1) new, (2) confined to English, (3) confined to certain parts of the social sciences. It cannot become the norm here. I want the article to explain this, in fact I have written a good part of that explanation myself, but we need to be careful to not have this article "take sides". What we could do, after a first paragraph that aims to explain the germ in general, is "Gender is used both as a synomym for (biological) sex and also in contrast to sex as a ...". Or something like that. I am sure I have such a formulation in there already.
  3. What I would really like is to have the first sentence end with "... classification in to masculine or feminine, or sometimes, the lack thereof". Except that is not very elegant or clear. But I would like to say "mostly masculine/feminine, but sometimes neuter (as in grammar) or common (as in grammar or transgender studies)". A better wordsmith than me needs to have a go at that.

Arbor 08:05, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your response! First, I can put your mind at ease about edit warring — it's not my style :) Think of my edit as an offering that others can take or leave as they choose. I've tried to incorporate your suggestions into the lead section. hope it's an improvement? I went with "male" and "female" rather than "masculine" and "feminine" to avoid confusion. A feminine male would still give their gender as male when filling out a form. ntennis 08:31, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
P.s my dictionary (the standard one that came with my operating system) defines gender as: "the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones) : traditional concepts of gender | [as adj. ] gender roles."

I think this is a great idea, and I would just like to point out that in grammar gender is not necessarily restricted to masculine, feminine, and neuter. In fact, gender (or noun classes) may have no relation at all with sexuality (see Bantu languages). By the way, I was thinking of rewritting the article on grammatical gender a bit, which is still a little messy. Take a look. FilipeS 11:36, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Grammatical gender into fem/masc/neut (as introduced by Aristotle) makes sense primarily for Indo-European languages. (See my "old" Grammatical Gender section linked above.) For other language families, the preferred term is noun class. Arbor 12:52, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

A few problems with that: in their evolution, some IE languages have merged two genders. For example, the masculine and the feminine have merged in Dutch, leaving the "neuter" and the "common gender" only. It seems inconsistent to stop using the word gender just because of that. Also, some authors argue that Proto-Indoeuropean itself originally had only an "animate" gender and an "inanimate" gender, the former giving rise to the masculine, and the latter giving rise to the neuter and the feminine. Finally, languages from other language families also have fem/masc genders, for example Afro-Asiatic languages, and Manchu. FilipeS 13:44, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

That's exactly the kind of stuff I want the Grammatical Gender subsection to talk about. You should have a go at it. Arbor 15:23, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Problematic edit by anonymous user

Later gender theorists has come to abandon this distinction, to appreceate the flexible nature of gendered behaviour. R. W. Collins, Randall Collinson and Jeff Hearn are major spokesmen for seeing gender as a sort of "doing"; The individual does his or her gender in ways that emphasise their gender, and this is what gender is about.

I've removed this contribution because I have a number of problems with it. Who are these people? Why are they the most prominent spokespeople for gender as performance? (I would think Judith Butler would be high on this list.) Are the names misspelled? Because I get nothing from Google for "Randall Collinson" gender, and nothing relevant for "R. W. Collins" gender. Also, the statement is somewhat POV - it seems to assume that gendered behavior is flexible. (This happens to be my POV, for what it's worth.) Finally, grammar and spelling need attention. FreplySpang (talk) 15:56, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Third gender

Just a few thoughts on this. In Thailand the "lady-boys" are apparently considered as a third gender (based on what I've heard from travellers who've been there).

In Indonesia, transvestites and transexuals (who dress as female or perhaps take hormones to become more feminine) are called "waria", a compound of the word for woman (wanita) and man (pria). The level of social acceptance is surprisingly high and a waria can even become a local celebrity (based on my observations in Surabaya, East Java). However, I couldn't say that they are actually considered a third gender - I'm not clear on this. Also the term is very broad and includes gay men who don't identify as women, but find this to be one way of expressing themselves which is socially accepted. --Singkong2005 02:59, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Have added refs for this section and linked to the article third gender. ntennis 01:21, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Gender and development

I'm focused on articles such as International development, and others covered by the WikiProject International development. I know that gender is a very important issue. Having women participate is important to the success of projects. It's also been important in the success of some/many microfinance programs. So I feel there should be much more information on this, within articles such as International development & Participation (decision making), and possibly even in specific articles. Are there articles on this already, which I have missed? Thanks --Singkong2005 05:29, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I think this article should act as a kind of portal, which briefly summarises and branches off to other relevant gender-related articles via links. I think gender in international development deserves a mention here. Would you like to contribute something on this? ntennis 01:21, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Cool. To be honest, I don't feel up to the task, but I'll have a go. I'll put some ideas down here, and after getting input/correction they might be ready to be transferred to the relevant articles (esp. Gender & International development): Here's the first attempt:
"Gender, and particularly the role of women, is widely recognized as vitally important to international development issues. This often means a focus on gender-equality, ensuring participation, but includes an understanding of the different roles and expectation of the genders within the community.[citation needed]
"As well as directly addressing inequality, attention to gender issues is regarded as important to the success of development programs, for all participants. For example, in microfinance it is common to target women, as besides the fact that women tend to be the over-represented in the poorest segments of the population, they are also regarded as more reliable at repaying the loans. Also, it is claimed that women are more likely to use the money for the benefit of their families.[citation needed]"
It still needs work. Feel free to edit the above, use it to edit the article(s), or add suggestions here. I may not have time to do much more for a few weeks. Thanks --Singkong2005 16:41, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I've made a start - won't be able to do much more for a while, though. --Singkong2005 00:01, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Since this hasn't attracted interest here, I've put the above text into Appropedia:Category:Gender and development. --Chriswaterguy talk (formerly Singkong2005) 15:43, 5 March 2008 (UTC) - I somehow missed that the text is already there - I'll blame sleep-deprivation. Anyhow, I moved some more detailed information (on culture & public health issues, namely open defecation & the papyrus sanitary pad), that was deleted here, to Appropedia. --Chriswaterguy talk 16:06, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Online resources on "gender and development"

I also did a bit of a web search, but it would have taken hours to get anywhere much. Here's what I found interesting:

"biological sex"

Arbor, I noticed you reverted my change to the sentence: "Since the 14th century, the word is also used as a synonym for biological sex". I felt that "biological" was misleading, as people at that time probably didn't see sex as biologically determined, but rather some other kind of innate state of being. The quotes that are used to illustrate the point also don't back up a biological interpretation: "The Psyche, or soul, of Tiresias is of the masculine gender"; "the sun is there assumed to be of the feminine gender" and "black divinities of the feminine gender". Is there another way we can phrase this? ntennis 08:00, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

That's a good point that I had missed. The thing I want to make clear is that gender is a synonym for sex where sex means biological sex (as opposed to sexual intercourse). It's really a double problem with sex itself having multiple meanings. I agree that biological is pretty misleading when we talk about the poetic sense. Maybe we should just use a disambiguation link? Or "Gender is used as a synonym for sex, i.e., for the division into male and female." Division of what, though? Not of nouns or of colour schemes. Not of organisms either, because Sun is not one. By all means revert me if you have a good solution. Arbor 15:57, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

First sentence

The first sentence was recently changed, from (1) to (2):

(1) The word gender describes the state of being male, female, or neither.
(2) Gender describes a classification using masculinity and femininity. While this classification often is a dichotomy, some contexts allow a concept to be neither masculine nor feminine, or both masculine and feminine.

Now I like the first version better, but them I'm biased. ;) My main concern with (2) is the use of "masculine" and "feminine" as opposed to male and female. If asked what is the gender of a feminine man, would most people answer "feminine"? Or man? What about gender-specific services? Does a women's help line cater only to feminine people? I understand that some people see male and female as referring to biological sex, but the counterpart with gender is not masculine and feminine, but girl/woman and boy/man. However I would still prefer male/female (and neither/both), because we don't talk about man plugs and woman sockets, but male and female ones. Also, "a classification using masculinity and femininity" is kind of vague; if I didn't already know what gender is, I'm not sure this would help pin it down for me. What's wrong with "the state of being..."? --ntennis 23:13, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

P.s Suggested slight modification to #1 (let's keep it simple): The word gender describes the state of being male or female, or sometimes neither or both.

ntennis 23:19, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

The state of being male or female (or sometimes neither or both) is already covered by the word "sex". Given that this is an article about gender, not sex, it is necessary to acknowledge the subtlety and ambiguity of the issue right from the beginning. In your example of plugs and sockets, this is an example of an unfortunate linguistic error that is nonetheless the common usage and needs to be documented. But, the fact that people usually incorrectly refer to plugs as having "gender" rather than "sex" shouldn't tell us anything about how we describe gender in general, any more than common misspellings of words suggest that we need to change how we spell those words. As for the question of what the gender of a feminine man is (if by man you mean someone who has a typically male body and was born that way, with no additional information), I wouldn't be able to answer that question without asking hir. Catamorphism 23:58, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Catamorphism; no, we cannot do that. WP is not a usage guide. You and I may think that the concept of gender (as being different from biological sex) is useful, helpful, brilliant, or whatnot. But gender is a synonym for sex, as well. This article needs to acknowledge that fact. The challenge here is to write an article that gives an overview of everything that has to do with gender in all its connotations. I think thats doable and would make a brilliant article. (I have laid out the reasoning behind that idea many times on this talk page, and there was a Peer Review that came to the same conclusion.) This needs to be an inclusive summary-style article, not a narrow one.
ntennis: Both solutions look fine to me, I have no opinion. (The really short suggestion is great. Let's have a sweet opening sentence, not an opaque one.) However, the link masculinity points to a different, and in some respects better and more relevant article than male. You are a good wordsmith—can't we link to both? ".... of being male or female, neither or both. By analogy or convention, the concepts of masculinity and femininity have ...". Arbor 07:13, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Catamorphism and Arbor for your thoughts. Catamorphism, I may have not expressed myself clearly. I understand the sex/gender distinction. By a man I didn't mean a cisgender man, I meant any man — someone with a gender identity and social identity as a man, regardless of how typical his body is or was when he was born, or even if he is feminine — his gender is still male. "Woman" and "man" are genders, and femininity and masculinity are characteristics associated with them. I don't see how saying plugs and sockets have a "sex" is any more accurate than saying they have a "gender". Surely, if sex is about biology and reproduction in organisms, and gender is a set of social norms and conventions, the opposite is true! Any ideas on how we can approach consensus? ntennis 10:39, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
OK, as no more discussion was forthcoming in nearly a month since the post above, I've restored the original wording, which was at least preferred by two editors and objected to by one. Hope further discussion can find a version all are happy with. Note that we still have links to masculinity and femininity in the lead section, and an acknowledgement of the difference that many hold between sex and gender. ntennis 02:01, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Connectors and fasteners

I removed the following text from Connectors and fasteners. Extended explanations are best left to the article Gender of connectors and fasteners, which is linked from the section. --Singkong2005 00:09, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I don't agree. The points about hermaphrodites and plugs versus male is exactly that the current article is about (namely, why and how are things classified into genders, and how this often does not quite work along the male–female dichotomy). Those are great examples. Moreover, the article Gender of connectors and fasteners has little chance to ever evolve into something more than three paragraphs, so there is no need for it existing in the first place. I suggest to keep all the information at Gender and redirect the connector article hither. In fact, originally the material was all here, but was refactored into a separate article by editors who wanted Gender to be only about sociology. I do agree that the section you removed would benefit from a more concise presentation. Arbor 06:18, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I see your point - interesting points about gender classification and "only about sociology." It seems we agree that extended descriptions aren't suitable if they're just lists of types of connectors etc. Descriptions of the relevance to gender do belong in this article (assuming there's sources for these views, or if they are simple, uncontroversial observations). If you want to rewrite and put it back, I support that. I'm still inclined to think that the separate article, Gender of connectors and fasteners, is needed, so that there's a place for stuff that's more relevant to those interested in technical/trades/hardware issues. Cheers, --Singkong2005 01:56, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Two comments

1. "Some theologians have described the Holy Spirit in feminine terms."
Indeed this statement is true,
but it does not represent either historical mainstream theology,
nor the majority view among current theologians.
This is a big subject, and the sentence above isn't adequate as a summary.
This is an extreme analogy, but it's a bit like summarizing cosmology by saying,
"There are people alive today that believe the world is flat."
Just a tip-off from a baby theologian (me).

2. I think the German section is very helpful.
It helps clarify the difference between concepts and terminology.
There are three distinct concepts in "gender debates:"
(a) physical characteristics
(b) personal identity, and
(c) social role.
The German identifies these unambiguously.
However, when reading English writers on the subject,
one needs to be aware that there are sometimes ideological loadings
associated with differing systems of terminology.
Personally, I would keep the German section,
and edit the English section down to a minimum.
Alastair Haines 14:41, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Pink Think citation

It says "need citation" for the sentance about pink changing from a masculine color to a feminine color. This citation could be from the book Pink Think, but I don't have time to look up all the info to make the citation. If someone else wants to do it, I'm sure it's in there, in the first couple of chapters.

Dfziggy 20:21, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Re music

Mention should probably be made of feminine and masculine cadences. I don't have time to get into this at length, however. Dysprosia 09:45, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Masculine and feminine cadence, and masculine and feminine rhyme in poetry, seem not to be in the article at all, and I think it's fine that it be left that way, unless we get into horrendously broad levels of abstraction like the notion of "1" as a male number and "2" as a female number and "3" as their union, in some old numerologies....

I'd actually like to see the current music section removed. IMO it is based entirely on a mistranslation of Tongeschlecht, "Geschlecht" having a now-archaic meaning of "clan" or "race." Tonart for a specific key and Tongeschlecht for a family of keys of the same type is sort of like the species/genus distinction in biology. TaigaBridge 22:46, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Fruit flies? wtf?

Why are two fruit flies pictured here? Wouldn’t a creature more identifiably male or female be more appropriate (assuming the purpose is to show a male and female)? The caption sounds like it belongs in an article on fly biology. —Frungi 04:21, 15 November 2006 (UTC)


A hidden comment on the Etymology section asks for a confirmation of the following:

Gender comes from Middle English gendre, from Latin genus, all meaning "kind", "sort", or "type". Ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root gen, which is also the root for "kind", "king" and many others.

Well, this is not exactly validation, but here's what I found at List of Proto-Indo-European roots:

*ǵenH₁- (*ǵénH₁ō [1ps]) → to give birth → Gk. genos, Lat. genus, Eng. cyn/kin; cyning/king

FilipeS 22:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Genus of "Person"

Hi, is there a grammatical term for words like "person", where you do not know the natural gender for? Other such words are "human being", "child", "men" as plural for "person" and there are some more. If there exists a term, it should be mentioned in the article. -- 08:37, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Generic? FilipeS 19:50, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Assessment comment

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Gender/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Gender does not differentiate between males and females, sex describes this difference.

Gender differentiates between masculine, feminine and neuter (where applicable) especially in the grammar of languages.

Sex is an acceptable and proper word to use in the correct contex.

Gender is also a correct word to use, but only in the correct contex... It should not be used as a 'politically correct' alternative when the word 'sex' should be properly used.

Last edited at 21:40, 19 June 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 20:35, 2 May 2016 (UTC)