Gender and Life

What's the difference between gender and sex?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. While some use the terms "sex" and "gender" interchangeably, they are actually very different concepts. Sex is based on physical and biological rules. People born with testicles are considered male, whereas people who grow up to menstruate and breast-feed are considered women. Sex relates to chromosomes, hormones and sex organs.

    Gender, on the other hand is a social construct. Girls aren't born with an innate longing for the color pink or a lifelong desire to wear high heels, and boys aren't born loving blue and playing with cars and trucks. Rather, they learn very early on that such traits are expected and defined for them by society. While "male" and "female" define biological sex, "masculinity" and "femininity" are designated by gender roles. These gender roles affect the mental and physical health of a person [source: Monash University].

    Gender can mean different things in different cultures; in most of the world, though, housework and child-rearing are considered to be feminine chores, while mowing the lawn and fixing broken appliances are considered to be masculine tasks. A man who does the bulk of the housework, therefore, would be considered an aberration according to gender in most societies, perhaps making him subject to ridicule. There are other ways in which gender plays a role in society: For example, in many countries, including the U.S., women make significantly less money than men for similar work. In other parts of the world, such as Saudi Arabia, men can drive cars, and woman can't [source: World Health Organization].

    In some places, gender roles have evolved over time, for example, giving women in some countries more freedom and independence, such as with the right to vote. However, gender stereotypes often lead to discrimination and violence.

    More answers from Discovery Fit & Health »

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