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SFreeman89Vision

Gender as an anti-concept

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I've been having a discussion with a friend of a friend, and the course of this discussion has led me to think that 'gender' is an anti-concept or something very like one. I would be very interested in what you think.

Quoting Rand:

An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The use of anti-concepts gives the listeners a sense of approximate understanding. But in the realm of cognition, nothing is as bad as the approximate.

And:

Observe the technique involved . . . . It consists of creating an artificial, unnecessary, and (rationally) unusable term, designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concepts—a term which sounds like a concept, but stands for a “package-deal” of disparate, incongruous, contradictory elements taken out of any logical conceptual order or context, a “package-deal” whose (approximately) defining characteristic is always a non-essential. This last is the essence of the trick.

Let me remind you that the purpose of a definition is to distinguish the things subsumed under a single concept from all other things in existence; and, therefore, their defining characteristic must always be that essential characteristic which distinguishes them from everything else.

So long as men use language, that is the way they will use it. There is no other way to communicate. And if a man accepts a term with a definition by non-essentials, his mind will substitute for it the essential characteristic of the objects he is trying to designate . . . . Thus the real meaning of the term will automatically replace the alleged meaning.

[The second quote is less relevant than the first, but I include it for completeness.]

The discussion went as follows:

My friend observed a news article about a man who is currently/was previously a man, and his decision to live 'as a woman' from now on. He has not had surgery to alter his sex. The article referred to the subject throughout as 'she' and 'her', and my friend commented that it was great to see an article that used the correct pronouns throughout.

I said that surely it would be correct to use either male or female pronouns since he/she can refer both to gender, and also sex. Since he is of the male sex but (self-identified as being) of the female gender, both pronouns are valid, it merely depends on the usage i.e. if we want talk about his sex, we say 'he', if we want to talk about his gender, we say 'she'.

Her response was that this is strictly correct but that it is polite to refer to people how they wish to be referred to. Her friend (the friend of the friend) made a more interesting response though. Her argument is not merely that referring to this person as female (leaving out their male sex) is polite, but that they actually are female and are not male. That is to say that either gender and sex are synonymous, relating to the mind not the body, or that gender is a valid concept while sex is not (I am not sure which precisely she believes). My original position was that he is both male (sex) and female (gender), but she argued that there is no duality, he is simply female and nothing else.

We do have working definitions of 'male' and 'female' that are based around the presence of different reproductive organs and the makeup of genes. A simple set of definitions would be:

A male is a human with a penis

A female is a human with a vagina

Or:

A male is a human with XY chromosomes

A female is a human with XX chromosomes

These specific terms are variations of what we call 'sex' e.g. "His sex is male because he has a penis." They are not individually exhaustive or mutually exclusive, however; one may meet neither definition and therefore be sexless, or meet both definitions and therefore be of both the male and female sexes.

These definitions meet Rand's requirements: They take all of the things subsumed under the term (all men, all women) and differentiate them from all other things in existence by way of a defining characteristic (particular reproductive organs or chromosomes). To say "He is male," is to convey the information that the person in question has a penis, XY chromosomes, and so on, while to say "She is not male," conveys that they do not have a penis or XY chromosomes. Therefore the concept is useful. Its usefulness is increased because we can also draw certain likelihoods from this information e.g. If we know he has a penis and XY chromosomes, we can be 90-98% sure he has a sexual preference for females, we know it is likely he will be physically larger and stronger than the average person with a vagina, we know he is likely to cut his hair short, and so on. These are not defining characteristics of the male sex, but they are tendencies of those who meet its definition so the word goes beyond conveying merely the information contained within its definition, to a whole range of likelihoods associated with those meeting it.

I had initially simply accepted that the person in the article is of the female gender since they say so, but her argument that gender = sex (or that gender is a valid concept but sex is not) got me thinking. We can define sex, it is a valid and useful concept, but what about gender? Thinking about this, and her alleged definition in particular, has lead me to believe that gender is in fact an anti-concept.

When I asked her what the definition of female was, she replied that a female is someone who identifies as female. This is circular. You cannot define something with reference to itself. To demonstrate this, replace the term 'female' in her definition with its own definition and you end up with:

  • "A female is someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who........ [ad infinitum]"

Therefore this definition is logically impossible. This internal bankruptcy renders the term useless. Using this definition, when one says "I am female," no information is conveyed. The point may be clearer if we imagine we are proposing a new word with the exact definition she uses for female:

  • The new word will be called 'frammastan'
  • A frammastan is someone who identifies as a frammastan

There is no point in introducing this word. It is merely a jumble of letters, which is what 'female' is reduced to under her definition.

This would be bad enough by itself, but her argument is specifically to obliterate the concept of sex as independent of gender (defined as 'whatever one identifies as'). Not only is it meaningless, it is destructive of another, valid concept i.e. it is an anti-concept.

This is only one person's attempt at a definition though, so perhaps we can arrive at an objective definition of gender that actually has some meaning. We know what makes someone of the female sex, but what makes someone of the female gender? We do have a set of characteristics that we expect to find in females and not males, a fondness for the color pink, for example. But then is anyone who likes pink a female? And anyone who does not like pink excluded from the female gender? We might say that one is female if one is more feminine (see below) than the average human, and that one is male if one is more masculine than the average human. This kind of definition I think works adequately with something like 'tall'. Even if we cannot specifically name the average height of a human, we have a pretty good idea of when someone is taller or shorter than the average. But how do we know what the average degree of femininity/masculinity is? How do we objectively weight different feminine/masculine traits in this calculation? Do liking pink and liking shopping both weigh equally? Does any fondness for the color pink in any way lead to one additional unit of femininity, or does it matter how much one likes pink? I cannot think of any way to define genders in this way that is not arbitrary, does not lead to absurdity, or that serves any useful purpose.

Now, I do think it is possible to define 'feminine' and 'masculine' in non-biological terms (which is something like gender). These are matters of degree, everyone falls somewhere on a scale of femininity/masculinity. We can say that liking the color pink is a feminine trait and contributes to one's femininity, but that does not make one 'a female'. Precisely what traits to consider masculine/feminine is probably simply a matter of what is commonplace among those of the male sex (corresponding to masculine) and of the female sex (corresponding to feminine), perhaps there is a more sophisticated formulation but I don't think that is important here.

'Male' and 'female' genders, however, are discrete concepts - one is either, or both, or neither, but we must be able to determine if someone does or does not fall under those terms. Some people must be excluded (not everyone is of both genders or there would be no need for two terms) and we do not talk about being more or less male/female than someone else. Since there is no rational way to categorize people into these two camps, and since the above definition ("your gender is whatever you identify as") is meaningless, and since the concept is (I believe) used to destroy the concept of sex (which has meaning and use), gender is an anti-concept.

It is also, I think, a worrying example of a kind of anti-reality thinking that can be described as "Wishing will make it so."

Edited by SFreeman89Vision

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Some (many) languages assign genders to inanimate objects that cannot possibly have a sex. (See Spanish definite articles EL and LA.) That is the origin of gender as a concept (I think), or at least a valid usage.

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You are right that many languages have 'grammatical gender' but this is quite separate from the concept I discuss. Grammatical gender can have its uses such as clarifying that an object is associated with one sex or the other e.g. skirts are feminine. But grammatical gender is often nothing more than convention and serves no purpose. Objects that have no relation to the sexes are referred to as either male or female (e.g. in German the moon is masculine and the sun feminine) and sometimes objects which are related to or themselves of a particular sex are referred to as a different gender or no gender at all (e.g. in German the word for girl is neither male nor female, while in Irish the word for girl is masculine and the word for stallion (a male horse) is feminine).

In any case, English does not use grammatical gender except for those pronouns relating to objects which are themselves male or female e.g. she, her, him, he, etc. How do we know who to call 'he' and who to call 'she'? Well because males are 'he' and females are 'she'. But how to decide who is male and female? One possible meaning of male/female is that they are of the male/female sex i.e. they have male/female sexual organs, chromosomes, etc. Another possible meaning (which isn't necessarily mutually exclusive of the first) is that they are of the male/female gender, and it is this sense of gender that I don't believe has, or can have, any meaning.

Note that you cannot use grammatical gender to define gender in general, you end up with an argument that looks like this:

  • Female pronouns should be used to refer to those of the female gender
  • A person is of the female gender if they should be referred to using female pronouns
  • I should be referred to using female pronouns, therefore I am female, therefore I should be referred to using female pronouns

This just creates a circle as you can see. There must be a concrete definition of the thing to which the particular pronoun is assigned e.g.

  • In Polish, masculine grammar should be used to refer to trams
  • A tram is a powered vehicle that travels on rails set into a road
  • The object in question is a powered vehicle that travels on rails set into a road, therefore the object in question is a tram, therefore the object in question should be referred to using masculine grammar

So we do need a definition of gender for it to be the determinant of grammatical gender, or we must abandon it and use only sex. Another alternative would be to abandon both uses and simply refer to people as 'he' or 'she' depending on which they prefer. This would rob language of a useful distinction however. Even if removing the differentiation between male and female in grammar was desirable, the obvious thing to do would be to refer to everyone as 'it' or to use a single, 'human' pronoun. Even if we wanted to let people choose pronouns, why limit ourselves to two? Why not allow people to dictate that they must be referred to as any word they please? In any of these cases 'gender' or really, 'grammatical gender', becomes nothing more than empty titles.

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Some (many) languages assign genders to inanimate objects that cannot possibly have a sex. (See Spanish definite articles EL and LA.) That is the origin of gender as a concept (I think), or at least a valid usage.

In some cases the gender of words is even reversed. For example, in Latin, the word for farmer, agricola, is masculine in gender but feminine in spelling, masculine words typically ending in -us and feminine in -a. Latin also has a "neuter" gender with words ending in -um.

I recommend these sources on the etymology of gender:

Whether or not the term is an anti-concept depends on which definition is meant at the time; there are perfectly correct usages of gender. Don't forget that the same word can refer to multiple concepts, as in book, a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers (I'm reading a book.), and book, to enter in a book or list; record; register (He booked the sale.)[1].

[1] http://dictionary.re...com/browse/book (examples mine)

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You are right that many languages have 'grammatical gender' but this is quite separate from the concept I discuss.

I understand the distinction, but I disagree that the issue is "quite separate". After all, an anti-concept must have a core half-truth in order to fulfull its function of obscuring thought. Some anti-concepts are formed by invalid extension of what were perfectly legitimate words and concepts rather than an injection of an entirely novel word and concept. I think this is the case here for 'gender', and particularly the feminist case that gender is a social construction.

The real issue is that there are primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Primary sexual characteristics are the genitalia. At a scientific level of knowledge we know now that sex is caused by genetics (chromosomes to be specific). Secondary sexual characteristics are everything else associated with the male sex or the female sex omitting the genitalia, and this may well include genetic, epigenetic, and cultural "social constructions". In other words, secondary sexual characteristics are the essence of what is referred to by the concepts of masculinity and femininity. An alternate valid usage of masculinity and femininity would be to include the genitalia, making male and female subclasses of wider concepts.

I think male and female are first-level concepts at the common-sense level of knowledge and are fully valid prior to scientific investigation of what causes sexes to exist.

At this moment my conclusion is that gender is currently applied as an anti-concept in the following way: it holds that male and masculine are equal in reference, and similarly that female and feminine have the same referents. That wipes out the objectivity involved in using genitalia as a basis for classification when it is appropriate such as in deciding which public restroom to use.

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I’m afraid the OP lost me, but it did call to mind a favorite bit from Mark Twain. Here he’s backtranslating a paragraph from German to English, demonstrating the weirdness that can result from the use of noun genders. Notice that a fish scale is feminine, while a Fishwife is neuter.

It is a bleak Day. Hear the Rain, how he pours, and the Hail, how he rattles; and see the Snow, how he drifts along, and oh the Mud, how deep he is! Ah the poor Fishwife, it is stuck fast in the Mire; it has dropped its Basket of Fishes; and its Hands have been cut by the Scales as it seized some of the falling Creatures; and one Scale has even got into its Eye. And it cannot get her out. It opens its Mouth to cry for Help; but if any Sound comes out of him, alas he is drowned by the raging of the Storm.

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This is a very interesting subject, and a great setup by the OP. So thanks for that.

Now on to the arguing part:)

When I asked her what the definition of female was, she replied that a female is someone who identifies as female. This is circular. You cannot define something with reference to itself. To demonstrate this, replace the term 'female' in her definition with its own definition and you end up with:

  • "A female is someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who identifies as someone who........ [ad infinitum]"

Therefore this definition is logically impossible. This internal bankruptcy renders the term useless. Using this definition, when one says "I am female," no information is conveyed.

I think you misunderstood what she meant (or, even more likely, she was just repeating someone else's definition without understanding it, so she failed to convey what it means). Either way, the definition of a female (as a gender identity) is not "someone who identifies as a female", but rather someone who "senses/feels that they are a female based on observation of (their own, internal) reality".

This definition is very similar to how you would define a sad or a happy person: it's not someone who identifies as "sad" or "happy", but someone who believes they are sad or happy based on their perception of the state of their consciousness.

There is one difference: sadness or happiness is an entirely internal emotion, independent of others, while femininity/masculinity isn't; it's a relative term, it actually means that one sees themselves as fulfilling the "gender role" of a female or a male. And the definition of that role is relative to the culture of one's society.

So the definition actually depends on two more fundamental factors: perception of oneself, and culture. But these are both valid concepts, and therefor so is gender.

Edited by Nicky

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This is a very interesting subject, and a great setup by the OP. So thanks for that.

Now on to the arguing part:)

I think you misunderstood what she meant (or, even more likely, she was just repeating someone else's definition without understanding it, so she failed to convey what it means). Either way, the definition of a female (as a gender identity) is not "someone who identifies as a female", but rather someone who "senses/feels that they are a female based on observation of (their own, internal) reality".

This definition is very similar to how you would define a sad or a happy person: it's not someone who identifies as "sad" or "happy", but someone who believes they are sad or happy based on their perception of the state of their consciousness.

There is one difference: sadness or happiness is an entirely internal emotion, independent of others, while femininity/masculinity isn't; it's a relative term, it actually means that one sees themselves as fulfilling the "gender role" of a female or a male. And the definition of that role is relative to the culture of one's society.

So the definition actually depends on two more fundamental factors: perception of oneself, and culture. But these are both valid concepts, and therefor so is gender.

An interesting point. But I don't think that 'sad' and her/this conception of 'female gender' are defined in the same kind of way. Although someone identifies themselves as sad, they have an objective criteria against which they can make that decision. I can ask "Am I sad?" consider how I feel, and then compare that to the definition of sad. Equally, other people can observe my behaviour and come to their own conclusion about whether I am sad or not. It may be that this external observation is less accurate than internal identification, but it is still possible. To complete the point I suppose I have to state the definition of 'sad'. The dictionary definitions are, admittedly, somewhat lacking, usually taking a form such as "feeling sorrowful." Since sorrowful is really just a synonym for sad, that won't do. I would suggest something along the lines of "a negative mental state that is not caused by direct stimuli." Sadness is inherently negative, that is its key defining characteristic - a way of feeling that is bad, that is 'against' you. The last clause distinguishes it from physical pain, hunger etc which are experienced in the mind but as a result of direct stimuli, where as sadness arises from a deeper awareness of reality. We could go further and say something like "stemming from an awareness of one's desires not being met, or from one's aversions being met." So, with this definition in hand I can compare it to how I feel. Is my mental state a bad one? If so, is that the automatic impulses in my brain as a result of not having eaten anything today, or is it because I grasp the reality that I am in financial trouble (while my desire is to be rich), for example? Answering those questions leads me to the conclusion one way or the other. It is also possible for a person to be incorrect or to lie. For example, I may say "I am sad," but on further inquiry it turns out that reality is actually configured just the way I desire it so either I was mistaken or I lied.

Take the female gender on the other hand. How do I tell if I am of the female gender? How do I know if I 'feel' like a female? What does a female feel like? (stop sniggering at the back!) We could specifically define it, for example "A female is someone who feels empathy for others." In that case I can compare the definition to my own feelings. Do I feel empathy for others? If so, by this definition I am female. Equally, others can observe my behaviour and determine whether I am female or not. Again, the degree of accuracy may be lower, but it is possible. This definition makes sense internally. It also, I think, gets at what you said in that it stems from how the person feels. So we could move forward with it, but what specific criteria to use? While females are known for their empathy, do we want to say that anyone who has empathy is female? That anyone who doesn't is male? We could go down a list of 'feminine' traits but I can't see any of them being what Rand called the "essential characteristic which distinguishes [those things subsumed under the definition] from everything else."

In any case, I believe the girl I was discussing this with believed there was no trait that defined a female, it was simply that anyone who claims to be female, is. I think she would explain it something like this: It should be up to each person to decide for themselves what their gender identity is and how they go about deciding that identity (by which I mean deciding in the sense that 'Newton decided there was gravity' not 'choosing' as in 'I decided to have Chinese for dinner tonight') is up to them, we shouldn't and can't tell them they are wrong, if they say they are female then they just are.

These seem to me to be the two options for how to define gender (as apart from biologically defined sex, for which 'gender' is sometimes used as a synonym) but neither of them result in anything meaningful.

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I said that surely it would be correct to use either male or female pronouns since he/she can refer both to gender, and also sex. Since he is of the male sex but (self-identified as being) of the female gender, both pronouns are valid, it merely depends on the usage i.e. if we want talk about his sex, we say 'he', if we want to talk about his gender, we say 'she'.

Those pronouns are stolen. Return them to their correct defintions.

He - a male, man, boy

She- a female, woman, girl

Therefore a man cannot steal that 'she' and misuse it in calling themselves a 'she' when they are a BIOLOGICAL MALE, a MAN, therefore a 'HE' not a 'she'. What grammatical corruption.

Her response was that this is strictly correct but that it is polite to refer to people how they wish to be referred to.

Polite? I don't care about being polite anymore in regards to them, just grammatically correct. I will still refer to a man that plays dressup and calls himself a 'woman' and refers to himself as a 'she' - a man, a 'he'. If he goes and has surgery to invert his penis or whatnot, I will still refer to him as a man.

Edited by intellectualammo
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If he goes and has surgery to invert his penis or whatnot, I will still refer to him as a man.

Why would you insist on that once the objective and first-level basis of being male was replaced with the female plumbing? You are not going to be walking around with a genetic testing kit.

Also note the spate of stories lately about transgender beauty contest entrants. Transgenders are not such obvious frankensteins anymore.

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Her friend (the friend of the friend) made a more interesting response though. Her argument is not merely that referring to this person as female (leaving out their male sex) is polite, but that they actually are female and are not male. When I asked her what the definition of female was, she replied that a female is someone who identifies as female. . Since there is no rational way to categorize people into these two camps, and since the above definition ("your gender is whatever you identify as") is meaningless, and since the concept is (I believe) used to destroy the concept of sex (which has meaning and use), gender is an anti-concept.

It is also, I think, a worrying example of a kind of anti-reality thinking that can be described as "Wishing will make it so."

Sorry, this person you were talking to is just wrong.

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn't make it so.

Edited by SapereAude
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Why would you insist on that once the objective and first-level basis of being male was replaced with the female plumbing? You are not going to be walking around with a genetic testing kit.

As long as they, upon proper identification, are considered male by law, by photo ID, etc. then it is certainly within thgeir righytd to use the men's room.

Also note the spate of stories lately about transgender beauty contest entrants. Transgenders are not such obvious frankensteins anymore.

And the more the man looks like a woman, the more problematic it can be when he uses the men's erstrooms. The more a woman looks like a man, when in the woman's restroom, the more potentially problemtaic it might be. Don't cry when someone crys and turns your ass in, and authorities do the proper ID'ing. If you have had surgery or whatnot, and it says 'male' on ID, you have to use the proper restroom for a male, no matter what you think you think you are that you're really not.

Edited by intellectualammo

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Ok. I agree that those few transexuals who are going through that temporary stage where the legal recognition of the sex change lags behind their actual status have a personal problem and should not be imposing demands on others, such as suing over restroom access.

To change the subject, why are you touting Ragnar Redbeard in your sig?

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(Just so my usage of "you" isn't confusing, I'm responding to the OP)

I've wondered myself if gender is an anti-concept. My ideas relate to something of it often being an attempt to make an explicit mind/body dichotomy. So, the reasoning would go that your sex is a physical characteristic, while gender is a psychological characteristic. I can agree with that to some extent - there is some use in distinguishing introspective concepts vs extrospective concepts - but I fail to see any importance at all to maintain a concept of gender. Gender creates a large set of behaviors that correlate with a person beyond what most psychological or character concepts do. A person being quiet only applies to an approach to social gatherings, but it is impossible and even proper to determine from that if the person likes the color blue, or that the person likes movies with lots of explosions. The only concept I know of that applies to an absolutely huge set of psychological characteristics is gender. At least in terms of usefulness, I think gender totally fails to serve that purpose. It applies to way too much. Really, I think the concept can only apply as far as fashion, as related to secondary sex characteristics. There are distinct enough body types that primarily applicable to one sex, making gender sensible to distinguish how to pick out clothes (males being usually larger and wider-shouldered than females).

I get what is meant by everyone falling on a scale of feminine or masculine, but the traits that are seen as one or the other seem quite arbitrary. You seem to point out that while liking the color pink is largely seen to be a feminine trait, and also that having that preference won't make you female. I'd add additionally that there isn't even a correlation with sex beyond attempting to fit a social role. There is little to no value in figuring out who likes pink a lot, just like having a concept for people who are 5'11 with blond hair and like rainy days. At the very least, liking pink is a nonessential just like having ten fingers is a nonessential to being a human. What essential might there be for gender (and feminine/masculine being a subcategory)? Given how I said gender applies to a huge set of behaviors, I don't think it's possible to even find an essential.

"Whatever you identify as" is about all that you can say, just as I may identify with a certain style of music because I say so. However, at least with music, you will have generally good categories for different styles based on lyrics/rhythm/melody/etc. There aren't fine lines between genres, but there are still some conclusions you can make about people who claim to like one genre. At the same time, you can go too far with your categorization, making judgments that refer to way more than they should. That would be a stereotype; say if a person likes goth-like music, it doesn't mean they'll paint their room completely black and say the world is only misery. Probably all you can reliably conclude is that they like introspective lyrics. With gender identity, I don't think you can even go as far to make a simple generalization that is even close to fair. All I can come up with are stereotypes like "women love to shop". I've found few people in my life who like shopping in the first place, about equally for males and females.

A tangentially related thought is that I've tried to figure out a person's gender on a forum like this if unlisted. There's nothing I can ever point to, so I try to avoid using any gender pronoun unless I'm sure (and even then, I prefer gender neutral, but saying "they" leads to grammatical confusion). I don't know your gender, but having "Freeman" as your name makes me think male. Or it just means you like Half-Life a lot, but for whatever reason, chose an 'S' instead of a 'G'. People may make guesses about me relating to the large amount of pink in my avatar. My point is that these sort of decisions are often made arbitrarily, and tell us nothing.

Edited by Eiuol

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As long as they, upon proper identification, are considered male by law, by photo ID, etc. then it is certainly within thgeir righytd to use the men's room.

And the more the man looks like a woman, the more problematic it can be when he uses the men's erstrooms. The more a woman looks like a man, when in the woman's restroom, the more potentially problemtaic it might be. Don't cry when someone crys and turns your ass in, and authorities do the proper ID'ing. If you have had surgery or whatnot, and it says 'male' on ID, you have to use the proper restroom for a male, no matter what you think you think you are that you're really not.

What will a man in the women's room be charged with? Indecent exposure? I thought it was well established that such laws are not objective. If the man is charged with peeping, then firm evidence for the fact that he was actually peeping needs to be established. It's not like women keep the stall doors open for a chat while their skirts are down.

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What will a man in the women's room be charged with? Indecent exposure? I thought it was well established that such laws are not objective. If the man is charged with peeping, then firm evidence for the fact that he was actually peeping needs to be established. It's not like women keep the stall doors open for a chat while their skirts are down.

Those laws are plenty objective. Mere presence is enough for at least one misdemeanor.

I googled the phrase "man in the ladies room arrested" and this was the first hit for me: Police: Man caught peeping on women in college bathrooms In Baltimore 3 charges apply to one incident. There is a generic 'invasion of privacy' charge and a specific 'peeping Tom' charge, and something else they didn't detail.

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Again, just being in the women's restroom does not make you a peeper. Just like being in the men's restroom doesn't make you a peeper. The idea that a man in a woman's restroom can only be up to no good is an ancient social meme.

As for indecent exposure, I must disagree, it is un-objective, or at the very least it is an incorrect law. Nudity is not a crime. Other people cannot be 'subjected' to nudity, just as they cannot be 'subjected' to your smoking in public, or your vomiting in public. There are many things one sees in public that one might rather not. To legislate against them simply on that basis is not what freedom is about. If a man is harassing a woman, that is a violation of her rights, and the law, be he clothed or not.

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An interesting point. But I don't think that 'sad' and her/this conception of 'female gender' are defined in the same kind of way. Although someone identifies themselves as sad, they have an objective criteria against which they can make that decision. I can ask "Am I sad?" consider how I feel, and then compare that to the definition of sad. Equally, other people can observe my behaviour and come to their own conclusion about whether I am sad or not. It may be that this external observation is less accurate than internal identification, but it is still possible. To complete the point I suppose I have to state the definition of 'sad'. The dictionary definitions are, admittedly, somewhat lacking, usually taking a form such as "feeling sorrowful." Since sorrowful is really just a synonym for sad, that won't do. I would suggest something along the lines of "a negative mental state that is not caused by direct stimuli." Sadness is inherently negative, that is its key defining characteristic - a way of feeling that is bad, that is 'against' you. The last clause distinguishes it from physical pain, hunger etc which are experienced in the mind but as a result of direct stimuli, where as sadness arises from a deeper awareness of reality. We could go further and say something like "stemming from an awareness of one's desires not being met, or from one's aversions being met." So, with this definition in hand I can compare it to how I feel. Is my mental state a bad one? If so, is that the automatic impulses in my brain as a result of not having eaten anything today, or is it because I grasp the reality that I am in financial trouble (while my desire is to be rich), for example? Answering those questions leads me to the conclusion one way or the other. It is also possible for a person to be incorrect or to lie. For example, I may say "I am sad," but on further inquiry it turns out that reality is actually configured just the way I desire it so either I was mistaken or I lied.

Take the female gender on the other hand. How do I tell if I am of the female gender? How do I know if I 'feel' like a female? What does a female feel like? (stop sniggering at the back!) We could specifically define it, for example "A female is someone who feels empathy for others." In that case I can compare the definition to my own feelings. Do I feel empathy for others? If so, by this definition I am female. Equally, others can observe my behaviour and determine whether I am female or not. Again, the degree of accuracy may be lower, but it is possible. This definition makes sense internally. It also, I think, gets at what you said in that it stems from how the person feels. So we could move forward with it, but what specific criteria to use? While females are known for their empathy, do we want to say that anyone who has empathy is female? That anyone who doesn't is male? We could go down a list of 'feminine' traits but I can't see any of them being what Rand called the "essential characteristic which distinguishes [those things subsumed under the definition] from everything else."

Empathy (or anything else except physical characteristics) is not a male or female trait (irrespective of whether you mean female by sex or female by gender).

The criteria is the culture. In most cultures, males by sex and females by sex have different roles in various social settings and interactions. Those gender roles are the criteria by which one decides what their gender identity is. If a male by sex identifies with the gender role usually associated with the opposite sex, that means that their gender identity is female.

I grew up identifying as a male (meaning something whaaaaay more than just that I have a penis). I played with trucks and guns instead of dolls not because a have a penis or because my sex is male, but because my gender identity is male. Another kid, in a different culture, would have a very different understanding of what a male is, might grow up playing with dolls, while the girls play with trucks. His gender would still be "male", and his gender identity would also be male. Even though he's playing with dolls.

But, if I prefer to play with dolls, and he prefers to play with trucks (obvious simplification - it's not really determined by what you play with, there's a lot more to it!!), then we both have a gender identity of female. We both feel out of place, pigeonholed into a role we are uncomfortable with, and wish to change it.

P.S. I am not saying that gender roles are a good thing, only that they clearly exist beyond just one's sex. It's neither a coincidence nor a logical consequence of physical characteristics that males and females behave so differently from each other, and that that behavior and those differences vary from culture to culture.

That difference can only be explained by the concept of gender. Trying to explain it using just sex doesn't work.

As for trans-gendered people, my suggestion would be to, instead of trying to change your gender, try dismissing gender as a defining trait altogether. I also have a budding suspicion that the cause of trans-sexuality is rooted in feeling trans-gendered, and misunderstanding the cause (but this second part is just a suspicion, like I said before, I don't know that much about it).

There are differences between males and females (as sex), but when we go beyond those differences to assign them roles in society, accepting those roles (and even trying to reject them and embrace the opposite role instead) is second-handedness.

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Empathy (or anything else except physical characteristics) is not a male or female trait (irrespective of whether you mean female by sex or female by gender).

That was just one potential example for simplicity's sake, I was not suggesting that would actually be the likely definition. But you see, you talk about things that are commonplace or 'the norm' for people of that sex e.g. it is the norm for male children to play with trucks and guns, you played with trucks and guns so you are male gendered.

Clearly such a simplistic formulation as this is absurd though because people can (and most people do) have traits or tastes that fit both traditional roles. A female may wear pink dresses and love sewing and baking and all other kinds of things that perfectly fit with the traditional female role or archetype, and yet play with guns. So is she female or male gendered? We would need a formulation of gender that is far more complex, taking into account a whole range of factors. But how can we be objective about this? As I said above, do we add up all the 'female' traits versus all the 'male' traits and do a tally? Or do we give different weights to different factors? Does the strength of a particular trait matter? And how can we objectively decide on traits to put into the 'male' and 'female' boxes? Some traits are, it seems, far and away more common with one sex than the other, like enjoying knitting. But some traits may only be slightly more apparent in one sex than the other. If it turns out that 60% of females prefer chocolate to vanilla, compared to 55% for males, is preferring chocolate to vanilla part of the female archetype? What if the difference is 1% or 0.1% or 50%?

Edited by SFreeman89Vision

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Those laws are plenty objective.

Thank you. I also would consider it trespassing or something. Regardless, they can be escorted off property, not allowed on the property, expelled from college like the girl on the right:

pitt-couple1-660x320.jpg

Tough shit. Now since you were expelled from college over it, maybe you can be a janitor. Then you can be in the men's restrooms as much as you want... to clean them that is. Then you can come home after work, to your lovely spouse there, and tell him all about your day.

Edited by intellectualammo

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I also would consider it trespassing or something. Regardless, they can be escorted off property, not allowed on the property, expelled from college like the girl on the right:

This isn't even the topic of discussion, you aren't really contributing to the original post.

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This isn't even the topic of discussion, you aren't really contributing to the original post.

That is not correct because the airy intellectual considerations of gender manifest at street level in the form of taking offense and filing lawsuits over male and female restrooms, as if that was some kind of racial apartheid.

I'm glad intellectualammo brought up the trespass point because I neglected to treat private property rights in dealing with this issue. Failing to cooperate with the owners terms for the use of his property is a form of trespass. On airplanes the restrooms are not set aside for males and females but where there is high foot traffic such as in movie theaters it makes sense to segregate the men from the women because the men are so much faster at stand up urinals. The owner of the facility should have the right to operate the facility according to his best judgement.

SapereAude likes this

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Trespass is the best one to use.

My current business only has one restroom so it is out of necessity unisex but if I had multiple bathrooms they would be gender specific and I would if necessary enforce that.

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The criteria is the culture. In most cultures, males by sex and females by sex have different roles in various social settings and interactions. Those gender roles are the criteria by which one decides what their gender identity is. If a male by sex identifies with the gender role usually associated with the opposite sex, that means that their gender identity is female.

To me, no matter what culture, no matter in civilized society or out in the wilderness, one thing will remain the same throughout - man's nature and sex roles - the male is 'the penetrator' and woman 'the penetrated'. This is human sexual reproduction. Something is wrong if the male thinks he's a woman, or thinks he has a 'male birth defect' which either indicates that perhaps he does have such a defect, or that there is something wrong inside, that persons mind.

Whether they have a choice or not, is not my concern, only saying something is wrong there, regardless.

I grew up identifying as a male (meaning something whaaaaay more than just that I have a penis). I played with trucks and guns instead of dolls not because a have a penis or because my sex is male, but because my gender identity is male. Another kid, in a different culture, would have a very different understanding of what a male is, might grow up playing with dolls, while the girls play with trucks. His gender would still be "male", and his gender identity would also be male. Even though he's playing with dolls.

But, if I prefer to play with dolls, and he prefers to play with trucks (obvious simplification - it's not really determined by what you play with, there's a lot more to it!!), then we both have a gender identity of female. We both feel out of place, pigeonholed into a role we are uncomfortable with, and wish to change it.

I'm a man and have absolutely no problem playing with dolls:

http://aidoll.4woods.jp/

http://www.realdoll.com/

http://sinthetics.co...icia/alicia-1h/

As for trans-gendered people, my suggestion would be to, instead of trying to change your gender, try dismissing gender as a defining trait altogether.

My suggestion for them is to be grammacally correct when speaking about themselves, regardless of what they think they are inside or not, if they are biolgoical male, then use the proper pronouns. My other suggestion is finding out what's wrong - why you think the way you do about yourself when men are supposed to think that they are men inside and outside. I don't care to discuss what is feminine or masculine (gender roles) as that is often a hell of a lot more a cultural thing. If you are a biological male, you are supposed to be a boy and become a man and all the while think you are a male and not a woman. Doctors/psychologists I would suggest for those that do not at any point think they are a male, boy, man.

Edited by intellectualammo

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The criteria is the culture. In most cultures, males by sex and females by sex have different roles in various social settings and interactions. Those gender roles are the criteria by which one decides what their gender identity is. If a male by sex identifies with the gender role usually associated with the opposite sex, that means that their gender identity is female.

There can be concepts are relevant to one culture and not at all to another, just as a matter of unit economy. A certain kind of behavior or trait may be frequent enough that in one culture, a concept is needed. I don't mean culture of a particular country; there is a culture in Internet communities as much competitive sports communities. Objectivity is still possible and real, even if some concepts do not need to be used across cultures. Anthropologists and sociologists may use the same concepts to describe unique aspects of a culture. It's also important to note that while unique concepts exist in cultures, the concepts could very well be useless, or at worst, anti-concepts. I do not know if gender is quite an anti-concept. Just because gender-like concepts have existed for hundreds of years does not make them valid automatically.

If the criteria is culture, that is probably harmful towards concepts that are better at explaining psychological traits. Someone could just come along and change their mind at whim, squeezing others into a highly restricted and collectivist category. I'm reminded to some degree of taking concepts of race too far. Race is fine to describe physical traits, and sometimes traits picked up due to cultural custom (perhaps ways of socializing), but it can easily be taken too far to describe a whole set of behaviors and make wrong assumptions. Gender is a lot like that, but the difference with gender is that I fail to see even an important usage. The concept "sex" is enough, that is all you need, perhaps with *some* valid psychological characteristics to go with it.

Gender roles aren't what I've seen to be determining if one has a female or male gender identity. At least in Western culture, no one is going to say a female who wants to be a car mechanic has a male gender role. I've never heard such a thing. There may be some non-Western cultures that do that, but I don't know. Maybe you would say that female has a male gender role, but what use would you get saying she is "masculine"? The only use I see is trying to fit her into a nice, neat category which is supposed to describe a lot, but fails to do so in reality. I'm not arguing simply that attempting to use a gender role is bad for an individual, but also that it can't be reduced to anything in reality. Altruism is bad for an individual, but as a concept, I can reduce it to reality.

"As for trans-gendered people, my suggestion would be to, instead of trying to change your gender, try dismissing gender as a defining trait altogether. "

My idea is that if you dismiss gender as an important trait, it doesn't *matter* if you change your sex. It's just plastic surgery. (Tangent, I don't want to get in discussion about this line).

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