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The legalese of sex and gender

The terms sex and gender have not always been differentiated in the English language. It was not until the 1950s that U.S. and British psychologists and other professionals working with intersex and transsexual patients formally began distinguishing between sex and gender. Since then, psychological and physiological professionals have increasingly used the term gender (Moi 2005). By the end of the twenty-first century, expanding the proper usage of the term gender to everyday language became more challenging—particularly where legal language is concerned. In an effort to clarify usage of the terms sex and gender , U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a 1994 briefing, “The word gender has acquired the new and useful connotation of cultural or attitudinal characteristics (as opposed to physical characteristics) distinctive to the sexes. That is to say, gender is to sex as feminine is to female and masculine is to male” ( J.E.B. v. Alabama , 144 S. Ct. 1436 [1994]). Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a different take, however. Viewing the words as synonymous, she freely swapped them in her briefings so as to avoid having the word “sex” pop up too often. It is thought that her secretary supported this practice by suggestions to Ginsberg that “those nine men” (the other Supreme Court justices), “hear that word and their first association is not the way you want them to be thinking” (Case 1995). This anecdote reveals that both sex and gender are actually socially defined variables whose definitions change over time.

Sexual orientation

A person’s sexual orientation    is his or her physical, mental, emotional, and sexual attraction to a particular sex (male or female). Sexual orientation is typically divided into four categories: heterosexuality , the attraction to individuals of the other sex; homosexuality , the attraction to individuals of the same sex; bisexuality , the attraction to individuals of either sex; and asexuality , no attraction to either sex. Heterosexuals and homosexuals may also be referred to informally as “straight” and “gay,” respectively. The United States is a heteronormative society , meaning it assumes sexual orientation is biologically determined and unambiguous. Consider that homosexuals are often asked, “When did you know you were gay?” but heterosexuals are rarely asked, “When did you know that you were straight?” (Ryle 2011).

According to current scientific understanding, individuals are usually aware of their sexual orientation between middle childhood and early adolescence (American Psychological Association 2008). They do not have to participate in sexual activity to be aware of these emotional, romantic, and physical attractions; people can be celibate and still recognize their sexual orientation. Homosexual women (also referred to as lesbians), homosexual men (also referred to as gays), and bisexuals of both genders may have very different experiences of discovering and accepting their sexual orientation. At the point of puberty, some may be able to announce their sexual orientations, while others may be unready or unwilling to make their homosexuality or bisexuality known since it goes against U.S. society’s historical norms (APA 2008).

Questions & Answers

describe rational legal autority/domination
nishita Reply
its described by max weber...leadership that ties with legal authority or beurocrates
hasan
elucidate brief note on sociological imagination by C.Wright Mills
nishita Reply
sociological imagination is to see society's view point of every situation.. everyone have their own view pt. and own rule for seeing thing. it also makes us aware abt others problems.. it is thinking.outside the box
manisha
ok
Lakhan
thank uh
nishita
what is another name for culture in sociology
Abubakar Reply
How could studying sociology help you in this career?
Tesha Reply
level of social organization
sanchris Reply
What is the importance of studying Sociology?
War Reply
the importance of studying sociology is to know about the society, human behavior, human interaction, social problems etc
Ishrat
It give u inside about social life, social reality, social institutions, social processes, social issues, social mobility and stratification, social inequality, social behavior, social relationship and interaction etc.
Simon
sociology is the study of man in society: The socialization of man into a social being, the groups in the society and the inter and intra relationships.
Peter
It widen ur horizon abt social life
onoja
what particularly is a "social action"?
nishita Reply
act which takes into account the actions and reactions of individual.
manisha
what role does society plays in it
nishita
society shapes the individual's behaviour
Rehmat
how relevant is socialization to law
Salihu Reply
Can anyone tell the form of family
Inoto Reply
wrire the function of family
Ahammad Reply
what is marriage
Ahammad Reply
Marriage ia a socialy and legaly rocognized social bond between two people for the procreation of offsprings and satisfaction of sexual desires. With the tie of marriage there generates right and duties on both partners to comply with.
Sadiq
types of marriage
Ahammad
Monogamy, Polygamy, Polygyny, Polyandry , Bigamy
Sadiq
function of marriage
Ahammad
it is explained in definition
Sadiq
what do you mean by Endogamy
Ahammad
who is the father of sociology
Ahammad Reply
ibne khaldoom
Sajan
what is sociology
Ahammad
study of people groups society and interactions.
Sajan
write the definition of "types of marriage "
Ahammad
Auguste Conte
Salihu
important of social science research in our contemporary society
Sharif Reply
Social research is an important source of knowledge. It provides updated, proved, authentic and very useful information to the end users.
manisha
Structural Changes. Social research is responsible for bringing structural changes in a social life.
manisha
Social Prediction. Social research helps in making laws and the relation between social laws and their factors.
manisha
we apply social research to a society for bringing social order and control.
manisha
New Techniques. Social Research introduces new techniques and improves the old ones.
manisha
how positivism is used in social science
Sam Reply
Positivists believe that sociology can and should use the same methods and approaches to study the social world that “natural” sciences such as biology and physics use to investigate the physical world.
manisha
positivists use quantitative methods such as official statistics, structured questionnaires and social surveys. Statistical, numerical data is crucial to Positivist research. Positivists need to collect statistical information in order to make comparisons. And in order to uncover general social tren
manisha
auguste compte
Edouard
August Comte is known as the father of Sociology.
Moses
what is Darwin's theory?
Kashmiri
What are the e contribution of Auguste Compt to Sociology?
Muhammad
August comte
Rahein
He coin the word socios & Logus to become sociology
Salihu
d
Abubakar
He also saw d problems in d society as social static, which brings stability in d society N social dynamic which are d structures of d society
onoja
difference between polygamy and polyandry
Arvina Reply
polygamy having more than 1wife ...and polyandry having more than 1husband
sai

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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