November 23rd, 2004

Sex And Gender

People get pulled up on the feminist site I frequent for using "sex" and "gender" interchangeably. The distinction is useful. If I've understood it right, "sex" is about physical characteristics and "gender" is about what goes on in your head.

Someone proposed that if you enjoy the cut and thrust of the work-place your gender is male and if you like staying home knitting bootees your gender is female.

I expect they got jumped on. But here's the problem. Sooner or later you stumble over the stereotypes. "Sex" is easily determined (in most cases) but "gender" is a social construct.

I'm confused. I've just written a book in which my tomboyish heroine keeps dodging in and out of drag. She is, of course, a version of myself.

I'm a man. And I'm heterosexual. But when I put myself in a book it's as a girl who goes running about with a sword in her fist having wild adventures.

I think there are probably quite a lot of us with this cast of mind- we are the male fans of Buffy and Xena and Uma Thurman's Bride- but I don't believe there's a word for us...

...Yet.