PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS ASIDE, CAN MEN BE DISTINGUISHED FROM WOMEN?
If we were to take every human being on the planet and remove from them all any signs that could outwardly point towards one gender of another, would we be able to tell the difference? In effect, would it be possible to choose one's gender? How many stories have you heard about people using other-sex personalities in online chatrooms and forums? Who's to say that some members of this site are or aren't the sex that they claim to be?
Our society is full of sweeping generalisations as to how men and women are 'expected' to behave, but if, aside from the physical differences, there is no way to distinguish the 2 sexes, then should these roles continue to be perpetuated? Or is the physical link too much to overcome?
Hat tip to Kate McKay for this topic - thanks Kate!
I get the certainty part, but not what you're certain *of*. What is it you know? That you're a man. But what does that statement mean when you say it? You've made it clear that when you say "I am a man," you don't mean you have XY, or the requisite organs. So what do you mean when you say it?
My wife have strong differences that relate to something other that what style of clothes we wear -- and they're much the same as others. My wife reads romances; I want spaceships and explosions. She adores children; I'm only really interested in my own. This is not because we're exaggeratedly adherent to stereotypes. She's an engineer -- not a typical job for a woman, and when she has to go on a job, she's often the only woman around that's not a secretary. I'm no Schwarzenegger, and I have a job (professor) that has a lot of men *and* women. She was more into building things as a kid than playing with dolls, and I was more into building things than playing cops and robbers. But... I just don't see how any married couple can not see, with a member of the opposite sex there so close, that the differences are real.
We all know of research into different behaviors and even brain structures, too.
Exceptions do not disprove rules. Sure, some smokers don't get cancer, and some nonsmokers do, but it doesn't mean smoking doesn't cause cancer. Similarly, some women are all into huntin', fishin', and shootin' and scratching themselves (well, OK, I never met or heard of any, but I guess it could happen) while their hubbies are all into keeping the frilly pink canopy over the master bed well-decorated with teddy bears (again, never met or heard of any), but when you take into account all men do and all women do, beyond reproduction, facial hair, and the like, there's too much for it to all just go away if external characteristics disappeared.
Although I don't dispute your post -- at all -- I still find myself stuck at the question: when you say "being a man," what do you mean? It's obviously very important to you, but I don't know what you mean by it. I'm repeating myself, but:
-- You've made it clear that when you say "I am a man," you don't mean you have XY, or the requisite organs. So what do you mean when you say it?
Transgender is really something to think about, I will probably end up thinking about this a lot today as I do my work. Seth, I think it is interesting that you keep saying that you were raised and socialized as a female but you never say that you were born a female. I don't know if that is some force of habit or if you are leaving that as a given. Leaving that out could lead people to think that your parents were purposefully trying to raise and socialize you against your obvious gender in some weird "Sleepaway Camp" sort of way.
I’m a pragmatist. So, what I say may be taken as harsh. I prefer to be honest rather than dance around the facts. By your own admission you are outside the norm. Here in this community you can learn more about what it is for normal men to be men. I seriously doubt you’ll find what it is to be transgendered here. Most men are motivated by testosterone and sex drive on various levels. If you don’t or haven’t experienced that we cannot impart that struggle to you. Every man has struggled with what a man is, when going through puberty. That struggle was complicated by the changes that men go through. Our voices changed, our hormones drove us crazy, and there were a host of issues that were complicated by those pesky hormones. Most men didn’t question their sexuality. They knew they liked girls because their bodies reacted to the very sight of a girl. Those sexual feelings drove us to do stupid things. Testosterone caused us to be aggressive. Some were more aggressive than others. Some were less than others. In many ways that continues into adulthood. We came to this community to share our experiences with other men and to make sure we are getting it right. We want to learn to embrace those differences between us and women. We came here because we recognized commonalities in ourselves. If you ask anyone including transgender or homosexuals I’m pretty sure they can describe a stereotypical male. There are many here that are happy to share what being a man is with you. But we don’t have questions about what we were born as and what we are now. Being accepted is a huge struggle. I don’t believe many men will honestly accept you as just a man. I believe most men will accept you as a transgender but few will know exactly what that entails. Some men have struggles because they may feel they exhibit less than many traits. That is one thing that has been addressed in this community. Your experiences are going to be difficult and I’m sure you can find acceptance as a transgender. But if you want to be accepted as a man and not as a transgender I’m not sure that will ever happen. You are what you are. You’re going to have to answer the question of what you are for yourself. But you can’t answer that question for us. I expect men to act like men. If they don’t act like men it’s annoying to me. If they don’t act like men they wont be treated like men. I believe it’s the responsibility of other men to tell them to man up. I don’t know if it’s all part of that alpha male vs. beta male thing but most men have experienced it. That’s what this community is all about. Encouraging men to man up.
I don't really see anyone bringing up "transgender issues," I just see a guy pointing out that he may have some deeper understanding of some issues in this debate due to his circumstance in life of being born in a body that doesn't match with how his brain developed (I believe that's the medical reason usually understood to be the cause of transexuality?).
I don't see how he "won't be accepted" as Mr. Disque says, since I assume that many, if not most, transsexuals do not let everyone know that they were raised in the wrong gender, etc. How would he not be accepted if no one knew of his past?
And why would he not be accepted even if people knew of his past? I'd say the "manning up" here would have to be realizing that this man was born in different circumstances than most of us but is obviously no less a man. Hell, I would guess it takes a pretty strong man to realize that he's a man despite everyone telling him otherwise...
No one has the same history or the same circumstances, we all come from different pasts, but what most of us here have in common is that we're men just trying to socialize or learn from each other. We aren't all here because we all come from the same circumstances.
Thanks for sharing, Seth, it must be hard to share information like that publicly. I hope you still feel welcome here.
I know this isn't really related to the debate, I just was surprised at these last two comments in particular. And I'm not trying to be "PC" (not something I'm into by any means), just throwing some stuff out there that I think makes sense.
I've heard examples like this all my life, and though they seem to be perpetuated, I guarantee that if you asked 100 boys the same question in the same circumstances the vast majority would not want to kill it. I know that personally, the thought of killing the bird never would have entered into my mind. Perhaps this difference is more a product of how we tend to raise our kids than anything innate?
We're still not hearing from Seth on the question Kate raised several times, and I raised twice: if "man" doesn't mean "someone with XY chromosomes" or "someone with requisite physical characteristics" or anything else the rest of us can identify, if you know in your heart that "I am a man" is true, what is it you know in your heart that you are?
Because we can't really talk about it until we know what it is.
I'll wait a little longer, and if I still have no guidance on this answer from a real live transsexual, I'll do my own speculation.
It might be useful to look into some of the various developmental studies done on children of both sexes especially those dealing with the "fight or flight" vs. "tend or befriend" responses and those dealing with male vs. female aggression tendencies including the effect of estrogen on oxytocin.
Philosophy doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's good to have at least a few facts from the realms of biology and psychology before wading in. :)
OK, since we're still not hearing anything from Seth on this, I'll give my thoughts.
I believe that "I am a man" has a powerful emotional impact on Seth (or any F2M transsexual; else why do it?). This emotional impact must necessarily depend on the meaning of the words, or else "I am a flooboggle" or some other nonsense statement would work as well.
Therefore even if such a person doesn't articulate what that meaning *is*, it must be there in the mind anyway.
The meaning must be more than "a man is someone who knows he is a man," because that's circular and provides no content. We might as reasonably define "flooboggle": "a flooboggle is someone who knows he is a flooboggle." It would still be a meaningless word.
So why deny any meaning to "man" beyond "a man is someone who knows he is a man"? Now I turn from tight and I believe irrefutable reasoning, to speculation. I imagine the reason is to avoid being excluded from the term.
So if we identify what's appealing about this term, we've identified at least part of the meaning in the mind of the one who desires it.
It's possible that the appealing part is something anyone can have (independence, boldness, decisiveness). It's possible, but seems unlikely, that the appealing part is something that only some of us can have (Y chromosome). It's more likely that they're all swirled together and not perceived separately.
My hope is that everyone can embrace within himself or herself those qualities he most wants to bring out, and bring them out. My point is that this can be done without stripping the meaning from the words we wish to embrace.
No, that's not it at all. I'm not discrediting intuition or embracing empiricism. I'm saying that "I am a man" is meaningless if all "man" means is "that thing that I know that I am." Doesn't matter whether that statement comes from intuition, empirical data, metaphysics, or somewhere else, if "man" doesn't mean anything in particular. (The same would be true of the statement "God exists" if "God" means only "that thing that I know exists.")
Too big a leap! The question of what intuition is, and what are the limits of empiricism, is interesting, but it's a different question.
"I only have this story, passed down from man to man, father to other person and son to stranger:
Young bull to old bull: "Hey! There's some nice cows over there in that field. Let's run over there and do some of them!"