The Weighty Debate Behind Gender and Sex

I have considered this issue quite extensively for I believe it to be rather relevant now, and one that is looking to become more and more so in the future. Firstly, we take to thinking, is there a difference between gender and sex?

Biological essentialism, a Platonic theory, certainly disagrees with our modern concept of gender being different to sex. Of course, Plato had an opponent in fundamental philosophical belief: Aristotle. It would be interesting to revive Aristotle and ask his opinion on gender and sex! He had a theory in his time that consisted of form and matter: the latter being the composites of something and the former the way the composites become that something. It could apply quite neatly to gender and sex, that form and gender are the further steps or final mechanisms of sex and matter which are the materials.

Mostly, sex is referred to as the biological, binary concept, and gender as the continuous. I cohere with this reasoning because I believe an explanation for denoting a distinction between sex and gender is that while sex unquestionably describes a human’s biological identity, gender may be assigned to one’s emotional/mental identity. This would provide an explanation for the perceived fluidity of gender and the reason for why there has been a development towards gender being a ‘spectrum’: the fickleness of human emotions is generally accepted.

It is also engaging to consider the Hegelian dialectic in this discussion. If gender is taken as the accepted definition today, one can say that it is self-recognised and self-identified, which is an interesting phenomenon, perhaps one that is epistemologically asymmetrical. The Hegelian dialectic states that, ‘to gain self-consciousness, one must be recognised by another self-conscious being which one recognises as having the capacity to recognise, and so on…’, which follows the same format as the harnessing of a gender identity unto an individual.

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