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What Is A Man?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Chip, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    Yes ... what is a man, or a woman as well?

    Strange question?

    Perhaps, without context.

    So here's the context.

    This year, the California Supreme Court will decide on Proposition 8, the gay-lesbian marriage ban.

    Critical to their decision is whether to accept and support the definition of marriage partners (supporting Prop 8) or to allow a localized aberration of that definition (oppose Prop 8).

    The time-honored, long-standing, cross-cultural, traditional definition of marriage partners acknowledged by the overwhelming vast majority of the world's population, about which there is no rational conjecture is: "between a MAN and a WOMAN as HUSBAND and WIFE".

    The reality of it is not in question.

    If the court is to allow a localized aberration of that definition and oppose Prop 8, thus allowing gay-lesbian marriage in California, one of the factors they will likely have to consider during deliberation is what is it that makes a man a man and a woman a woman.

    A ridiculous consideration, you say?

    In a gay/lesbian relationship, there is a lack of one gender essential to the definition of marriage partners, so the answer is obvious that there's always a man or a woman missing that violates the definition of required marriage partners.

    Or ... is there?

    Many homosexuals acknowledge that one person in their relationship plays the "man's" role and the other the "woman's", each dressing and acting a little more in traditional gender stereotypical fashion, not by pretense or facade, but because that's just each their usual idiosyncratic way.

    Is that sufficient to satisfy the "man and a woman" requirement for marriage?

    But the issue facing California only broaches a subject we've perhaps long taken for granted, a subject that has additional political ramifications: how do you know that a man is a man?

    Is a man a man because he "looks" like what a man is "supposed" to look like?

    And who decides what a man "looks like" ... or is that simply obvious?

    Is a man a man because he says he is, no matter what he looks like?

    Is a man a man because he has male genitalia?

    And, if you're in doubt, how do you know -- do you ask him to drop his drawers for proof?

    Is a man a man because of the size of his genitalia, that he's a man if it's above a certain size and not a man if it's below a certain size?

    Which brings us then to intersexuality (the "hermaphrodite"), "a person born with diminished sexual organs of both sexes as a result of a genetic anomaly, and therefore has physical sexual traits and characteristics in between that of a man or a woman. The hermaphroditic individual is usually incapable of reproduction." (from this link). (For more on intersexuality, see Intersexuality, Wikipedia.

    Is an intersexed person a man or a woman ... or neither? Is an intersexed person whatever he/she says he/she is, or is whether the interexed person is a man or a woman or neither to be decided by an appeal to some standard objective authority to which we must all rationally appeal?

    And then what about transsexuals, people whose physiological genetalia doesn't match their psychological gender? (For more on transsexuality, see Transsexualism, Wikipedia)

    If a man transsexually says he's a woman "trapped" in a man's body, does his physiology rule the definition of his manhood or does his psychology rule the definition of his womanhood?

    And what about transsexuals who then have sex change operations with respect to their psychological experience of gender -- is a man surgically altered to then have genitalia more like a woman still a man because he was born with male genitalia, or is he now truly a woman, whether or not he can procreate as a woman?

    To some, this may seem like absolute nothings to muse about, but the question of what is a man and what is a woman has political implications today like never before, thanks to advances in medical science that's created new knowledge.

    Questions arise additional to that of marriage partners.

    Who can use what dressing room at the gym?

    What box does one check for "sex" on the U.S. census form?

    Who can play for the college "men's" sports team ... and who can fairly play for the college "women's" sports team? And does a hormone test rightly decide the matter, or does a genetalia examination rightly decide the matter ... or what?

    When clubs, associations, international diplomatic meetings, etc. call for a representative from both genders, who can be sent?

    Is it really so simple to tell who's a man and who's a woman anymore?

    Differentiation does appear to matter collectively as well as individually.

    Yet there is real controversy in the matter.

    How are we to accurately decide what is a man or what is a woman in situations where the decision is obviously required?
     
  2. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    The court can't even tell the difference between a living unborn human child and a blob of cells. Why should be expect them to be able to tell the difference between a man and a woman?

    I can see it now:

    "You're honor while I may appear to be a women to you I am really a man with a very small penis often mistakenly called a clitoris by those less well informed than you or I. In your great wisdom I am sure that you will certify that I am a man."

    "Right, I am wise." Bangs gavel. "You are a man."
     
  3. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    Great point Dr. Who!

    I can think of one case where the courts figured out the unborn child was actually a child and Scott Peterson got 2 counts of murder for his wife and his unborn son Conor.

    But usually the courts are pretty dang stupid in this area :)
     
  4. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

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    Well, the Olympics no longer try to define male and female because they discovered that there is no absolute scientific way to determine. Now that we know that there are 9 chromosome patterns found in humans (7 besides the common XX and XY) and because we have discovered that there are normal appearing and functioning men with the XX pattern and vice versa, science is now using a series of 8 markers and assigning a probability of gender.

    Part of the problem is definition: sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is what's between your legs, but gender is between your ears. We are a culture deeply embedded in the sexual binary and it's very uncomfortable and difficult to be confronted with a scientific truth that is at odds with such a long-standing preconception.

    Knowing as we do that some chemicals can cause intersex conditions in animals (polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin specifically) how can we deny some people equal citizenship on the basis of indeterminate observable genitalia that may have been the result of man-made pollution? We also know that dioxin can cause homosexual behavior in rats that are exposed to the smallest quantities we can measure.

    Why worry so much about defining male and female? We always hear about the bathroom or dressing room issue, so why not let people use the room they are most comfortable in? According to the FBI there has never been a recorded case of a man dressing as a woman to assault women in restrooms. Crossdressing a man convincingly is not an easy task, it's not done casually.

    Maybe we should stop discriminating against homosexuals and transsexuals since we don't know what causes them to be that way and there is no scientific evidence that they are inherently dangerous to anyone.
     
  5. Hobo1

    Hobo1 Active Member

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    The solution to this is incredibly simple. The court says marriage is a religious ritual. The US Constitution prohibits any law that infringes upon freedom of religion. Therefore the provisions of marriage is a mute point and cannot be further considered in a court of law.

    Secondly, the State has the power to regulate civil contracts and has done on numerous occasions in the past. For any two people to cohabitate and enjoy the benefits and obligations afforded by government and society is by agreeing to and signing a contract of civil partnership. It is only fitting and appropriate that the State regulate those civil contracts to insure that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, or gender.

    End of problem.
     
  6. Sihouette

    Sihouette Active Member

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    Except that homosexuality can, by even homosexual admission, become cultural by becoming mainstream...

    That little snag. Everyone likes to ignore behavioral acquired psychosis and the anthropological fact that great apes like us mimic troop values...

    Let's look a little deeper into that statement (I know how you hate to look any deeper than is slightly uncomfortable for you). Gender is the gametes you're born with. Testes: you're a man, period. Get used to it or get help getting used to it if your mind has been trained to hate maleness. Ovaries, you're a female. Get used to it or get help getting used to it if your mind has been trained to hate femaleness, or to think emulating maleness is the only way to realize your dreams.. Hermaphrodites are both genders. They are the only ones who must be considered to be truly conflicted as to their gender, for quite obvious reasons.

    Gender has only been placed between your ears after birth. Taking a deeper look at why may be uncomfortable but it is necessary, and undoubtedly fervently avoided, for those who were erroneously counselled to disfigure themselves permanently where change back to the real gender is not possible, .
     
  7. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I doubt it is that simple. I bet Mare could even provide examples of men who had ovaries.

    But for 99.?% of people it is a simple matter to determine who is a man and who is a women and I think we should just consider the small percentage of variations to be irrelevant in determining the sex of the rest. I also think that despite the few genetic variations it just makes sense to say that XX is female by both gender and sex and that XY is male by both gender and sex.

    When I bought my red and green M&M's this year for Christmas I did not let a few odd colors in the bag change my perception of the bag as a whole as made up of red and green.
     
  8. Lagboltz

    Lagboltz Well-Known Member

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    I read in a journal (I don't remember the issue) about MRI studies where the subjects were given questions that were calibrated to have stereotype gender specific answers. The MRI scans of the control group showed different locations of neural activation between the two sexes as they answered the same questions.

    The groups under study showed that males that identified as being female, had the same MRI patterns as females. Females that identified themselves as males had the male MRI patterns.

    The control group showed that there indeed is gender dependent activation in the brain. In other words women think in different places than men. The groups under study showed that the sex dependent patterns were reversed from the control group.

    Mare Tranquility's statement (post #4) that, "gender is between your ears" is validated by MRI studies.

    As far as telling sex through chromosomes, we Americans seem to think predominantly in terms of black and white on many many issues. It is unfortunate that gender is not a black and white determination.
     
  9. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

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    Except for the fact that there are 1138 Federal laws mandating rights and privileges for ONLY "married" people, State recognition of gay marriages does not give gay people access to these benefits, the law must be changed at the Federal level--either taking the Federal governement out of the marriage business entirely or giving the Constitutional "equal protection" under Federal law to all tax-paying, consenting adults.

    The problem with States controlling marriage is that there is no requirement for reciprocity from State to State, a legal marriage here may be illegal in other States--which is a disaster for all concerned.
     
  10. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I don't suppose subjects were randomly assigned to be in the control group or the experimental group. :D

    So what we don't know is if being female causes one to think like a female or if identifying like a female causes one to think like a female. If it is the latter then TG's could easily think like a female by first identifying as a female.
     
  11. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

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    Lacking any real education in biology, Siho doesn't realize that there are measurable, quantifiable differences between male and female brains, this is not something that is learned. You cannot "learn" the bed nucleus of the stria terminalus into a different size, nor can you "learn" your hormone receptors into accepting cross-gender hormones--I know, I tried for nearly 50 years. A lot of the problem here is that people have not kept up with the scientific advances and so they end up working from an outdated paradigm.
     
  12. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    In regard to how we accurately decide what is a man or what is a woman in situations where the decision is obviously required ...

    ... Perhaps the intended function of the situation requiring man-woman differentiation would best dictate the method of decision.

    For example, a person wants to play basketball in the WNBA (Woman's National Basketball Association).

    That person possess both male genitalia and male hormones, complete with attendant male prowess, considerably superior to WNBA players.

    However, that person insists she's a woman, that her gender is female.

    Should that person be allowed to play in the WNBA?

    I would think that the presence of male genitalia and hormones would be sufficient reason to decline that person's request to play in the WNBA.
     
  13. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I would agree that there are differences between male and female brains. Some started in utero and some as a result of experiences. I am curious though, do you have any links to differences between TG brains and others? The last time you suggested a source none of it was published on the net.

    I don't even think we need to disagree on this because whether or not the differences are determined at conception or from experience or some combination probably won't make a political difference here. I just want to know.
     
  14. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

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    Australian law defines a man as having the XY chromosome pattern and a woman as having the XX pattern. Right now there is an Australian man challenging this because he has the XX pattern despite the fact that he is a normal appearing and functioning male. Since there are now known to be 9 different chromosome patterns found in people we can no longer use the XX/XY as an absolute determining factor.

    Science has proven that gender is on a spectrum with completely male on one end and completely female on the other, and spread out in between there are people who are varying mixes of male and female. While it's true that most people are adequately sex/gender congruent to live comfortably with their assigned role in society, making an absolute scientific division between male and female in every case is not possible. This is discomfitting to those who are poorly educated or deeply philosophically embedded in the sexual binary.
     
  15. Lagboltz

    Lagboltz Well-Known Member

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    Well, the control group claimed they had same sex and gender ID, unless they were lying. :)

    The MRI patterns of F vs. M came from radically different parts of the brain. I will have to dig up the article to see exactly how they conducted the experiment.
     

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