Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sex

Got your attention? Sorry to disappoint, but this really isn't gonna be about sex. Not in the way you might think. Julia made a comment on one of my earlier posts and it reminded me of something my dad said once when I was in high school. First of all, I have to explain the grammatical usage of the word gender:

From dictionary.com:

gen·der

A. A grammatical category used in the classification of
nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and, in some languages, verbs
that may be arbitrary or based on characteristics such as sex
or animacy and that determines agreement with or selection of
modifiers, referents, or grammatical forms.
B. One category of such a set.
C. The classification of a word or grammatical form in such a
category.
D. The distinguishing form or forms used.

Usage Note: Traditionally, gender
has been used primarily to refer to the grammatical
categories of “masculine,” “feminine,”
and “neuter,” but in recent years the word has
become well established in its use to refer to sex-based
categories, as in phrases such as
gender gap
and
the politics of gender. . .

Second of all I have to explain that I'm in no way complaining about Julia's use of the word gender, I totally get that it has become acceptable, in recent years, to use the word that way. It's just that it reminded me of this:

My dad, the English teacher, was trying to boil down the principles of how and when to use the words sex and gender. He said to me, "Words have gender, people have sex." Then he got all flustered when he realized that he said something that he wasn't meaning to say. It was funny to see my usually unflappable dad flapping!

2 comments:

Junelle said...

Thanks for the story-great one! Thanks for the definition as well, It clears up my gender confusion!

Juliabohemian said...

you know...I should know better too. I took a Human Sexuality class a few semesters ago and the teacher was very adamant about the fact that "sex" refers to the physiology and "gender" refers to the behavior.