Gender and sex are confusing to the people in their usage. The two terms continue being mixed up in their usage while referring to people. For instance, one might ask the gender of a fetus in the embryo when in the real sense they should be asking for the sex of the baby. However, the two terms are different, as various scholars have proved it. Biologists, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologist scholars have shown that the two terms are very different in both definition and analysis. However, the tow terms are inter-related hence the confusion among the people. The paper postulates that gender and sex are two different terms. It uses an anthropologist point of view to show the difference between them and how gender meaning has been constructed around the existing cultural beliefs.
Sex is the biological predisposition of human beings. It refers to both the biological and physiological features of a man. Naturally, one would be male and female. However, in recent times intersex has emerged as sex following the prevalence of the transsexual beings known as the main sources of introduction. The sex of an individual is a naturally determined and cannot be changed. For instance, males are known by having the male reproductive organs, which are either internal or external. Sex chromosomes, gonads, and external genitalia determine the male sex. The external genitalia includes the penis and the testes, which are held by the scrotum. The males also exhibit other characteristics that denote masculinity. Females, on the other hand, are biologically determined by their chromosomal presence, internal reproductive organs, and the external genitalia (Esplen & Jolly 2006). The internal reproductive organs include the ovary, the ova, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus. The external genitalia includes the vagina, the cervix, and the clitoris.
Gender, on the other hand, is a social construction. The gender of a person includes the behavior, attitudes and roles, personal traits, roles definition and the values and influences attached to the sex of an individual. In this case, a female will have her roles in a given society while the male will have their roles in the community. Those who refuse to conform to any gender may be referred to as the transgender. While sex is permanent, gender is dynamic depending on the culture. It is a learned definition and may vary over time (APA 2011). Thus, gender is neither female nor male but the significance attached by the society to the existing sexes. In other words, gender can be termed as being masculine or feminine. In most communities, the gender role of the female is more submissive than that of the men. The women are seen, as delicate beings are they are given the less challenging roles. However, men are perceived to be strong. Their masculinity exudes strength through the layers of muscles they wield. Thus, all the roles that require physical strength and aggression are devoted to them.
While there may be a big difference between the gender and sex, the two are closely related. If the sex were not naturally defined, then the society would never be able to allocate roles. It means that gender is dependent on the sex. In recent times, the transgender individuals have emerged bringing in confusion as to which gender roles they should be allocated by the society. However, since gender is dynamic unlike sex, the transgender are increasingly being absorbed into the society. It has been further determined that gender is true even though it is socially constructed. Societies are made up of cultures and norms. Therefore, the social construction of the term gender depends on the societies cultural beliefs on different sexes. In most cultures, men are deemed more important than the female. The gender is, therefore, a construct of the people's perceptions of what the male and female are supposed to do. Gender roles are filled with stereotypes that emanate from the cultural beliefs (Johnson & Repta 2012).
Martin (1991), an anthropologist investigates the biological conceptions of nature. She realizes that there is an inherent connection between the biological scientists and the culture. The scientists use their learned knowledge and skills to conduct research. However, in reporting their findings, they do so in consideration of the existing culture beliefs. Then biological explanations are therefore part of the cultural beliefs and can easily be used to present how the culture thinks about a certain issue. Even then, the facts and the empiricism of the research are not affected by the culturally oriented descriptions of biological processes. Such a finding is intriguing since it exposes that scientists are humans after all value their society and culture. As Martin (1991) realizes, science is not as rigid as previously thought. Scientific findings and the language used can be better understood by using culture to explain them.
Gender Stereotypes in science
As earlier stated, gender is a product of the societys stereotypes. Martin (1991) determines that the biology scientists use the cultural stereotypes in explaining gender-related phenomena. The stereotypes between the female reproductive system and the male reproductive system hold that the male system is more superior to the female system. The sex is constant, but the gender stereotypes used to describe the sexual organs are all drawn from the culture. The egg and the sperm cell serve a collective purpose of recreation. However, scientists postulate that the male sperm cell is more superior to the female egg cell. Such a description of terms by the scientists shows that the gender stereotypes in the culture have a tremendous effect on how the scientists explain their findings on the reproductive system
The scientists explain that the monthly cycles are an important process that sees to it that an egg is released by the female each month. The women also have a suitable place for the fertilization of the egg (fallopian) tube and a good growth area (uterus). However, if fertilization does not take place, then the entire process becomes a failure. The failure is demonstrated through the menstruation. In defining menstruation, the scientists use negative terms such as the expulsion of uterine debris, failure of a system, chaotic disintegration of form and many other factors terms. The negative connotations such as dying, denuding, expel, losing or ceasing when referring to menstruation shows the cultural perceptions that women and weak and barely produce the anticipated results. The same scientist with the conception marvels at how the sperms are produced and grow to maturity. They state that the process of spermatogenesis is remarkable. Spermatogenesis as a process is important. It ensures that millions of sperms are produced on a daily basis. The simplicity of the process and the magnitude of its effect make it more superior than the failed monthly cycles of the female. However, the scientists appear wrongly inclined by comparing the menstruation to spermatogenesis (Martin, 1991).
Ovulation is the process where the ovary releases a mature egg for fertilization by the sperm. The scientists should be happy that the female can produce an egg for fertilization each month. Instead, they argue that the follicles that contain the eggs are present at birth. Therefore, the follicles just release mature eggs, but do not produce them. They stay in the follicles as if on the shelf with most of them degenerating since they cannot be released for reproduction. On the contrary, the sperms are produced on a daily basis making it fascinating. About 400 eggs are ripened for fertilization among a million present at birth. All the other eggs degenerate throughout the womans life before her menopause. Therefore, the ovulation process is made to appear wasteful, fuelling the stereotypes of the inferiority of women to men in the society. Men, on the other hand, produce millions and millions of sperm germ cells making them quite industrious. Also, some scholars state that the ovary suffers from ovulation. By the time a woman riches menopause, the ovaries have ripened to maturity about 400 eggs. The process of ripening the eggs causes them to wear out. The same scholars state that the spermatogonia germ cell in the testes degenerates appropriately to produce sperm germ cells throughout the males life. In this case, the female ovary and the male spermatogonia are incomparable in the efficiency of the work they do (Martin 1991).
The male sperm production is celebrated among scientists. The process is continuous from puberty to senescence. The production of eggs in the ovary stops at birth marking the difference. The female therefore appears unproductive. A Female embryo has about 7 million oogonia (egg cells) produced through the process of oogenesis. However, the egg cells continue degenerate such that only two million eggs remain at birth. After birth, the eggs continue degenerating instead of being produced like the sperms cells. Out of the 2 million eggs about 400 get to ripen with all the others degenerating before menopause. The findings tend to inform the scientists on the wasteful nature of Oogenesis. On average, the spermatogenesis produces about 3 trillion sperms in a span of 60 productive years. Comparing to the females 40 productive years the woman ripens 400 to 500 eggs. Considering the amount of eggs released by the woman and not fertilized about the sperms produced by males, trillions of sperms are wasted. However, the scientists only focus on the mass production of sperms and not the mass wastage aspect. The woman productive system thereby remains quite wasteful as the culture stereotypes insinuate (Martin, 1991).
Physical appearance of the reproduction cells
The egg is perceived as feminine while the sperm is termed as masculine. Masculinity and femininity are cultural constructs. The eggs are large and passive as opposed to the small and very active sperm. The egg remains inactive and is drifted along the fallopian tube towards the ovary. In contrast, the sperm is very active. After ejaculation, the sperm swims through the vagina into the uterus. It requires a lot of energy since it uses its strong tail to propel it forward. The sperm then delivers the male genes to the egg cell activating its developmental program. The process shows the cultural superiority of men as opposed to the women. Some texts have emerged recently pointing to the fact that the eggs take control once the sperm makes contact. The egg becomes active sucking while the sperm becomes inactive. It sucks the sperm in extracts the genes and starts developing. However, the scientists still stubbornly insist that the egg is dormant and inactive making the sperm superior (Martin 1991).
Fertilization, as depicted by scientists, is a doing of the sperm. The sperm makes the journey through the uterus to the fallopian tube to fertilize the eggs. Some scientists liken the eggs to a sleeping beauty that needs to be rescued from its unconsciousness. The sperm is therefore on a mission to fertilize the eggs without which the egg would die. The sperm upon reaching the egg has to use some extra force to penetrate it. The egg acts as the victim while the sperm plays the hero who saves it from death. Thus, the sperm is much more superior thereby propagating the cultural stereotypes existing between women and men (Group & Study, 1988).
Conclusively, sex and gender are different. Sex is natural and cannot be changed throughout a persons life. However, gender is socially constructed. It involves the roles and behaviors attributed to the people by the society. As the society changes and new behaviors and roles emerge, the definiti...
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