Screw Your Preconceptions (Part 2)

As a follow-up to this post, I’d just like to point out the difference between sex and gender. Sex is seen as biological while gender is a social construct. What it means to be a man or a woman varies by culture (masculinity in Mexico is not at all the same as masculinity in Japan, for example). What this means is that a person can be biologically XY (sex) while also being female EDIT: a woman—thank you to ellenfremedon for the correction—(gender). Even this man-woman dichotomy is an erroneous preconception, however! Humans have more than two sexes, and genders vary so much across the world that I wouldn’t want to have the job of counting them all. And just in case you were wondering, etiquette dictates that you refer to someone with the pronoun appropriate to their gender, not their sex. (When in doubt, ask, but don’t be a jerk about it.)

“Liberal” Honesty?

First, a disclaimer: the “liberal” I use on this page is intended to have absolutely nothing to do with the twisted sense in which it’s used in the US. (In that sense, “liberal” is a kind of stealth-pejorative that gets applied to anyone who isn’t a Republican—put another way, against anyone who disagrees with fundamentalist Christian policy or so-called traditional ideology.) Instead, I use this term to represent a sort of regression toward the mean by stepping back from “radical” honesty, which I have previously referenced.

As a rule (in the piratical sense—a guideline), I believe in being pretty open. I don’t mind expressing my views, even political or religious ones, until the social context makes it inappropriate to do so, but inappropriateness can be a tricky thing to pin down. To avoid getting distracted by the specific boundaries of situational appropriateness, I’ll just summarize it by suggesting “most non-professional situations” (i.e., outside of work-related functions). Let’s agree that this is a horrible oversimplification and move on.

“Radical” honesty fails the asshole test, but its basic premise—that people should be honest with each other—is a deeply valuable insight. If the general idea can be salvaged, why throw it away? (There’s a baby-bathwater reference to be made somewhere.) Being more open about your feelings needn’t intrinsically have a negative effect. The reason radical honesty fails here is because it presumes that the people you deal with are willing to accommodate your bluntness (or that you don’t mind alienating people if they aren’t). If we remove this presupposition, we’re left with something far more socially acceptable.*

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Feminism and Sex

Previously, I wrote about what feminism is, and I included a link to a video detailing the “straw feminist” trope. (You’ll want to watch that video if you haven’t yet.) It’s very common for erroneous stereotypes to be partially rooted in reality, and feminism is no exception. Sadly, even what may seem like a reasonable, mature depiction of feminist issues are entirely capable of succumbing to this pitfall. Here’s one such example:

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