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Gender



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“Gender”, as it is used today, has its first attested use in 1963. As you can see from the chart above, the term takes off in 1980. So “gender” remains novel—it was associated in the 1970s with David Bowie, he who was “a gender bender”.


The term, in the sense that it is used today, was developed by feminists—it is a feminist concept, it is owned by them. What happened was that in the early 20th century “sex”—which used to just mean “male” or “female”—became associated with “sexual intercourse”.


Ask someone today “What sex are you?” and you might get a little titter. It’s because people think about “to have sex”, whereas in the 19th century there was probably some elaborate euphemism in circulation—like “to have marital relations” (even that was probably too direct and strong).


You still saw, until relatively late, within my memory, forms that would ask, “Sex: M / F”. And there used to be a great many unfunny schoolboy jokes along the lines: Doctor, “Sex?” Patient, “Yes, please!”.


Since “sex” caused people to titter and/or blush, it became acceptable to use “gender” instead—at first, this was done in a humorous way, as in, circa 1909, “What-ho, Cyril! I see you are perusing with great diligence that book of women of the female gender—in the nude, by gawd!”. In this sense, “gender” and “sex” meant the same thing absolutely.


However, the use later became more sombre—and, in the end, it was taken over by the feminists. The way feminists talk about “gender” refers to the cultural characteristics associated with men and women. I use this example all the time, but it’s a good one: the kilt is male attire in Scotland, yet anywhere else it is just a skirt for girls—and that’s to do with gender, it’s about the network of cultural signs and signifiers that make it read as “male” in a certain context.


As such, that’s not objectionable—obviously a toga appeared masculine in ancient Rome and yet looks feminine to a modern Westerner, since it looks like a dress. If that were the only way the word “gender” were used I would say it’s useful—have said it’s useful. However, the term is not used in good faith—because I would always say that these “cultural expressions” of masculinity relate back to sex, however much they change over time.


Now, what feminists do—progressives do—is to claim that the cultural signifiers free-float from sex altogether. If the term had not been developed in a tendentious way, then it would be useful to have a word for the cumbersome phrase “the cultural expression of sex” (no tittering at the back, please, this is a serious discussion). If it were just that, it would be useful.

The problem is that the concept that flies under this word has not been deployed in good faith—it is used to confuse the situation altogether. It succeeds, in part, because “sex” was retired due to reticence about its association with “sexual intercourse”—and, in fact, the entire “gender craze” relies, in part, on the natural embarrassment around the whole subject (especially among conservatives, who are bound to be more reticent in nature—and less able to, ahem, “grasp the thorn”).


To say that the collection of cultural signifiers associated with male and female free-float with no relation to biology is stupid—it is so stupid it doesn’t need to be refuted, but that has never stopped a good propaganda operation before. However, it’s more than stupid—the idea is stupid but the way it is deployed is mendacious; especially when it bewitches people to damage themselves through surgical mutilation.


Hence, I reverse my earlier position—drop “gender” entirely. It would be useful to have a word for “the cultural expression of sex” but “gender”, as stands, flies under a whole set of other presumptions—because the concept refuses to accept “sex” whatsoever. As usual, I was too generous and too willing to grant that people just aren’t stupid and mendacious—and wouldn’t just spam people with a false concept until they owned the semantic currency around it.


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Hence a question like “What is the gender of God?” as posed by a contemporary Christian is meaningless. The concept “gender” was coined long, long after the Christian era ended—St. Augustine would have had no idea what you were on about. As applied to the Christian God, it is a meaningless question.


If it were applied to the Christian God, it would mean God were entirely mutable and could be whatever you said He was—because, as stands, the concept means “gender is that which I say it is on a whim [and which I can compel you through state action to accept].”


God is referred to as “Him” not because He is a biological male but because He is not deficient in any way; whereas woman, in the Christian tradition, is deficient—being the source of Original Sin and also being merely derived from Adam’s rib (she is deficient in every other world religion too—and is just deficient in the general sense).


If you want to get literal, in the Christian account man is made in the image of God—so that suggests God is like an all-powerful version of man (I have my own interpretation as regards what that means, on the esoteric level—but if taken in the literal sense then if God has a sex it’s male).


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What’s the solution? It’s difficult—there’s a temptation just to go back to “sex”, yet that will just make you look archaic and will soon not be understood. The way “gender” is now an anchored concept, codified in law, marks the general derangement in Western culture—because we’ve enshrined a concept that makes it impossible for people to understand that men and women are different, and it’s embedded in our laws, media, and education systems.


“Sex” was already archaic when I was young—and soon it will become difficult to find people who understand what you mean by it. The problem is that the institutions that form the link between signifier and signified—the education system and mass media—are controlled by the left. The Internet can pick holes in the concepts these systems coin, but, being high-status and organised in a single monolithic block, they can impose the concept “gender” on society (impose many concepts).


The online opposition is not monolithic, it can launch guerrilla raids on the concept—but it cannot, for example, get “sex” to replace “gender”; it doesn’t have the credentials nor is it organised into a single monolithic block that demands a single outcome—it’s not a coinage machine.


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A final aside, “gender”, if you get back to the roots, relates to the stem genus “race, stock, family; kind, rank, order; species; male and female sex”. If we go back to the PIE its roots are found in gene “give birth, beget”—and its derivatives refer to procreation, family group, and tribal group. So gender is Genesis, the gene—the root is shared, and it’s even in Antigone (not to mention genre, if we’re doing fiction).

Of course, everyone knows that a dictionary is an ouroboros—a snake that eats its own tail—because if you look up one definition you just find another and so on and on until you arrive back at the first (“the dragon whose scales are everywhere, yet is invisible”).


However, when you see the way the words around “gender” are constellated you get a hint as to what it alluded to in the first place—how it related to reality, how in the 12th century it came to mean “type, kind, objects with common properties”; and how that turned into grammatical gender—itself related straight back to sex (with the neuter referring to objects).



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