Is Gender Really a Social Construct?

To answer the question we must define gender, and that’s easier said than done

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

What is gender?

Does gender exist on a spectrum? Or is it binary?

Can gender be changed?

How is it different, or is it different, from biological sex? And while we’re on the subject, what is biological sex?

After reading so many responses to the Matt Walsh documentary, What is a Woman, and writing a post on it myself, I noticed that confusion over the concept of womanhood was equally matched by people’s confusion (my own included) over the definition of gender and it’s associated terms.

So the following is my best attempt at making some sense of it all, starting with my understanding of the problem.

The Gender Umbrella: Confusion of Loosely Defined, Interchangeable Terms

Let’s look at the following concepts:

Biological sex


Gender identity

Gender roles or norms (societal and/or biological)

Temperament (the degree to which one is masculine or feminine)

Each one of these terms deserves a definition of its own, but depending on who you’re talking to, any combination of these terms may be used interchangeably, and gender is used as an umbrella term for them all.

For instance…

Those who are more conservative are prone to use gender and biological sex interchangeably, and depending on their level of conservatism, may not see a need to parse out either of these from societal gender norms, biological norms, or gender identity.

And in fairness to conservatives, the equation of sex with gender is how the terms are commonly used in casual language and there is a long history of using them in this way.

Those who are more progressive typcially see societal gender norms as being synonymous with gender, which is why they see gender as being socially constructed, and distinct from biological sex.



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The pedantic ramblings of a hopeless contrarian, grasping for sanity in a world gone mad