For most people female and feminine are synonymous, just like male and masculine. However there is a distinct difference. Sex and gender are not the same thing.
Sex refers to the genitalia of a person making them male, female or inter-sex (discussed later). Gender is completely different yet it is continually used as though it meant the same thing. Many words are used incorrectly. People often say cement when they mean concrete. Cement is an ingredient in concrete while concrete is the finished product. Similarly, weight is inappropriately used on health forms when they actually mean mass.
Gender is not sex. Gender is a social construction. This means that gender is something simply made-up to describe an archaic belief known as biological predetermination.
Biological predetermination is the belief that women are inherently feminine and men are inherently masculine. This goes hand in hand with the idea that men like women and vice versa. It is widely accepted despite its fallacies. Most people think that women are naturally nurturing, compassionate and giving, making them excellent mothers. Just like they also believe men are naturally brave, aggressive and lascivious, making them excellent in business. Oddly enough, this set of beliefs is common and unquestioned. However it is false. I'm sure that in your own life you have met women who are "masculine" and men who are "feminine". If such qualities were natural then why doesn't everyone fit in? The simple answer, they're not natural. Believing in biological predetermination would also mean subscribing to the belief that homosexuality is a disease. It's not. Some guys like guys, some girls like girls and some people like both. This is naturally occurring and doesn't fit in with this little "theory".
Life is too diverse to fit into neat little categories. That is the truth of the matter. Not every man will identify with being masculine just like not every woman thinks she's feminine. Yet we live in a society that likes labels. So we've found terms to describe things in relation to what we assume to be fact. Transgender is a term people use to describe themselves when they identify with the gender that's not typically associated with their sex. For example, a man might behave and dress like a woman and choose to call himself "transgendered" but that doesn't mean he's homosexual. Sexual identity and gender identity are not always synonymous. Transsexual describes an individual that identifies with the other sex and may or may not have an operation to make the transition. Sexual and gender identities are flexible.
As noted earlier, I mentioned something referred to as "inter-sex". The world is not a clean dualism. Things are not simply black and white, male or female, masucline or feminine. Nature is more complex than that. Inter-sex is the third sex. Someone may be born male, female or inter-sex.
Inter-sex is when you cannot distinguish the genitalia or chromosomes to be either male or female. This is not the same as hermaphrodite. It seems unlikely but it does happen in one baby in every 2000. In nations like Canada when a baby is born inter-sex, public healthcare will pay for the procedure to "correct" the baby's genitalia. This means that the doctor and sometimes the parents will make the decision to either have a boy or a girl. This sort of decision will impact that child's life forever and I fear it is made too cavalierly. Often the child will grow up identifying with a sex not their own and have corrective surgery. Why can't the baby grow up as they are? It is too much to ask for people to accept a third sex?
I hope that someday the world will be open to the unique differences and similarities that make us human.
*For Canadian residents, if you're interested in a documentary about inter-sex I recommend watching InterSEXion by CBC.
I had the excellent fortune to attend a Just for Laughs event in my city. In case you were wondering, Just for Laughs hosts comedians to travel to different venues. I was extremely excited since I've seen their events on television numerous times but never had the opportunity to attend an event until now. It was absolutely fantastic. The show featured Last Comic Standing John Heffron along with Godfrey, Canadian comedienne Debra Digiovanni, Jim Breuer, Roman Danylo and Diana Frances. I didn't find out the show's theme until we actually arrived and it turned out to be "The Relationship Edition". Perfect for my partner and I on a night out.
Roman Danylo and Diana Frances opened the night with improv to get everyone started. They were great. With audience suggestions they turned something mundane into something exciting and hilarious. A great way to open a show and get everyone ready to laugh. John Heffron came out next and hosted the show. He did a fantastic opening bit. He discussed the difference between being in a relationship as a man in his early 20's to being a married man at 42. One of the funniest things he mentioned was going out to dinner with his wife. He goes on to say that he didn't expect a performance review. He was quite funny.
Next was Godfrey, an honest and very active comic. He brought the stage to life with hilarious comments on everyday life. He made jokes about everything from the incredibly cold Canadian weather and mitten wearing to Victoria's Secret and American Airlines. I laughed particularly hard while watching him. He really knew how to make people laugh. He was quite a ham.
There was a brief intermission before they continued on to one of the most well known and respected comics, Debra Digiovanni. If you've ever watched Much Music's Video on Trial, you would be familiar with her kind of sardonic humour. Most of her humour is self deprecating, something I truly appreciate. I like when a comic can make fun of themselves. It's too easy to make fun of others. She's really very intelligent and witty. She's the one comic I would love to meet in person. I think she'd be terrific fun.
Last but not least was Jim Breuer. In a way he was similar to John Heffron, in comedy and appearance. He also commented on the inner workings of marriage but extended it to having children. After he was done I couldn't help but be more afraid of the possibility of ever having children. Children are a handful. Regardless, all the comedians were truly on their game. I appreciated every minute. I love to laugh. If Just for Laughs returns, I will be there.
Has anyone read this story? Are you familiar with what's happening? Well apparently four pairs of female Badminton doubles players are being charged with "not using one's best efforts to win a match"*. The World Badminton Federation (who knew such a thing existed) has decided to launch disciplinary proceedings against the eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia. The doubles pairs were scheduled to compete today, but now it's unclear what will happen. To give an example, the longest rally in one game was only four strokes! The audience watching actually booed! To sum up, they are accused of trying to throw matches in order to manipulate their position. China's and South Korea's doubles pairs didn't want to meet their teammates in the semi-finals.
One of the South Korean coaches blames China, claiming that it was their strategy first. Honestly, it's all a little silly. I can't help but think that there are probably many instances of athletes not trying hard enough but they never went through any disciplinary proceedings. Still, the issue has come up and it's left me wondering, is attempting to lose a legitimate strategy?
If you were a professional athlete selected to compete in the Olympics and made it to the quarter-finals then found out you might have to play against your own country, what would you do? I think most people would be tempted. Still, this strategy defeats the whole purpose of the Olympics. It crushes the Olympic spirit.
Personally I don't think that the players should be disqualified. Perhaps it's not necessarily in the "Olympic spirit" but they got to their positions by playing well, did they not? How can one evaluate how hard someone is trying anyway? Despite the accused lack of effort, is it really their fault if they found a way to make it work to their advantage? If anything, I blame the game itself. It doesn't make sense to me that at any point two teams from the same country should have to face each other. I think it causes this precise conundrum.
Conundrums aside, the London 2012 Summer Olympics have been exciting and awe-inspiring. It is our duty as citizens of the world to watch the Olympics and cheer for our country! So here's to Canada! Congratulations to Christine Girard in Weightlifting, Antoine Valois-Fortier in Judo; Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans in Women's Synchronized 3m Diving, and Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion in Women's Synchronized 10m Diving!
*If you want to know the full story, you can read it on the BBC, CBC and The Globe and Mail.
Update: The Badminton players were disqualified.
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