The Sex ' and Gender ' Distinction
For centuries, women have been subject to having their competence scrutinised, their mental processes challenged, their abilities questioned in western civilisation. In this essay, I will begin by giving some historical perspective to the scrutiny of women as it is important to know how it came to be that women have been seen as lower status when compared to men, eg. the weaker ' sex. Then discussion will focus on how grounds for and the implications of this history led to the necessary attempt at making a distinction by second wave feminists in the 1970 's between the concepts of sex ' (or nature) and gender ' (or nurture) as they were known and used in the debate of human characteristics. Lastly, the focus will turn to how as influential as it was thought to be, as time passed there have been several problematic areas for this distinction.
Leading up to the line of distinction
Prior to the 18th century, women and men were not thought to be biologically different. Thomas Laquer noted that genitalia were seen to be structurally the same, just a matter of whether it was all inside or outside of the body.
But, because men were the writers of historical documents, we have little knowledge of what women thought about the world. The absence of their voices may have assisted in leading to the one-sided argument, which helped form the one-sided power structure between males and females.
Michael Foucault supposes it was in the late 17th century that that the beginnings of dichotomised views of the sexes were implemented. During the plague, reorganisation of cities into of sick and healthy, able and disabled, moral and nonmoral, was mandated to protect the wellbeing of the unaffected population. (General Introduction to Theories, Postfeminism p. 94)
This led to science and medical arenas taking dichotomy into shape that would eventually spread into broad
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