Re: Constructed gender differences (was: Re: guidelines/ethics)

Kathryn Aegis (
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 17:19:35 +0000

> I didn't realize
> that there was any semblence of 'constructed gender differences' on this
> list; if such is true, then I truly don't understand what these differences
> are. Perhaps that is your point. As for overcoming such possible
> differences, I think a dose of *reality* would do the trick.
Unless the individuals involved have made themselves aware of the
effects of gender socialization on their speech patterns, body
language, negotiation and social styles, then these differences will
always have an effect on human interactions. This does not represent
prejudice or misogyny per se, but if one person does not provide the
expected cues and signals as per their gender (usually women), the other
person (man or woman) can react with annoyance or even anger. A lot
of it has to do with social power dynamics, which can change with the
situation or the culture. It's a complex and fascinating subject.

I became interested in the subject of constructed gender at a young
age, being *just* androgynous enough to pass as a guy depending on
what I wore and how short I cut my hair. After some lessons in body
language from actor friends, I've spent time as both man and woman,
and this has led me to conclude that society's insistence on gender role
divisions is a form of entropy that holds back everyone, men and
women alike. This is a prime area for personal evolution (and for
discovering more freedom of expression).

There is a lot of good writing on this subject (with the notable
exception of _Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) but one caution
to anyone looking up papers. A huge number of studies were based on the
BEM sex instrument, a self-identification instrument that has
recently come under heavy criticism for being too culturally
weighted. It is indicative that more and more people register as
'androgynous' on the instrument, and it will either have to be
revised or scrapped altogether.


Kathryn Aegis

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