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Gender is the range of mental, behavioral, and sometimes even physical characteristics differentiating between female, male, and others.

A person's gender has many parts. Some of these parts are:

  • Gender identity, which is how one perceives one's own gender. It may or may not include or have much to do with how a person feels about their body.
  • gender assigned at birth, which is based on how their genitals look at birth, society assigns people the genders of female, male, or sometimes intersex.
  • Gender roles, which is how a society fits people into categories that are based on how they are useful to that society. For example, a hunter-gatherer society often has three gender roles: women gather vegetables and weave baskets, men hunt animals and make stone tools, and third gender people do some skills from either of those roles, based on their ability. Western society recognizes only two binary gender roles.

Some writers differentiate entirely between gender and sex, making a contrast between personality and body. Other writers include sex as a physical part of gender, because society's and science's ideas of sex are no less social constructs than gender.

In some groups, people say that "gender is performative," based on what they thought the feminist Judith Butler said. However, what people think she said is different from what she meant:

"A misreading of the 1989 book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler is responsible for the widespread misconception among academics and activists that all gender is just a performance. As Riki Wilchins points out in the 2004 book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (pp. 132-34), what Butler really said was that gender is performatively produced. Performative is defined as an utterance that performs an act or creates a state of affairs, an example being the use of the phrase 'I now pronounce you man and wife' to create a marriage. Butler herself refutes the notion of gender being just a performance."[1]

When Butler said that gender is performative, she meant that it is an action. Many people took her words the wrong way, thinking she meant that gender is fake.

See also

External links


  1. Androgyne Online.