Welcome back. I'm Dr. Jacob McWilliams. I'm Dr. Katie Mohrman. What is gender? Today, we'll answer this question using the concept of social construction. Previously, we defined social constructs as ideas, objects, institutions, and systems that we as humans have created. First, take a look at the following image. What is the gender of this person? Take a moment to consider why you think so. Would it surprise you to learn that this is a boy? This is a photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States as a young child circa 1884. This image may be surprising to some because Roosevelt is wearing clothes that in contemporary American culture are associated with girls and women, or are considered feminine. He also has long hair and is posed in a demure way, two other characteristics that are heavily associated with women, girls, and femininity in modern US society. What this photo teaches us is that characteristics associated with gender are socially assigned, that they are not naturally or innately determined. We know this because the photo illustrates how gender norms, the socially defined roles, standards, and expectations associated with a particular gender can change over time. What were considered gender-neutral traits in the late 19th century for children of all sexes; long hair, dresses, and restraint body language are now characteristics that are strongly, if not exclusively, associated with girls and women. Let's look at another example. What is the gender of the person in this photo? Take a minute to consider why you think so. This is a photo We'wha, an important indigenous and cultural ambassador and member of the Zuni tribe from present day New Mexico. We'wha was a Lhamana, a gender category recognized by the Zuni culture up until the early 20th century. In fact, most indigenous tribes of North America had their own version of a Lhamana. This gender category became known as berdache across the continent during the 17th and 18th centuries. We'wha helps to illustrate how gender is culturally specific. When looking at someone from a different culture from our own, it can be hard to read the signs of gender which we take for granted in our own culture. For example, how the clothes someone wears, the hairstyle they have, or the posture they assume communicates their gender to us. We'wha's gender also illustrates that many cultures have gender categories other than women or man. If you are interested in learning more about cultures with third or more genders, please take a look at this map. Before we talk further about gender as a social construct, it is important to distinguish between gender and sex. Typically, in everyday life, people use the terms gender and sex interchangeably. However, these terms describe closely related, but different phenomena. Sex as we will discuss in depth in another video, is a system of human categorization in which people are classified into one of three sub categories: female, male, or intersex based on certain bodily and genetic characteristics related to reproduction. In other, words gender as a human system of classification is a social construct. In many societies, although not all, attributes, roles, and behaviors have been classified in one of two ways; as either feminine or masculine, which have traditionally been aligned with the subcategories of woman and man respectively. The common division of gender into only two sub categories is referred to as the gender binary. It's important to emphasize that while it is typically assumed that sex and gender always correspond according to the gender binary i.e if a person is assigned female at birth, they are also a woman. This is not the case. As We'wha illustrates, someone can have an assigned sex, it does not correspond with their gender according to the gender binary. Both Roosevelt and We'wha were considered male based on their bodily characteristics related to reproduction. Similarly, gender is also a system of human categorization and one that is closely related to sex, but in which people are usually classified into a variety of subcategories depending on the cultural options. Around the world today, the most common categories are woman, man, and transgender, but they are not the only ones. For the most part, a person's gender's determined not by the reproductive characteristics, although they can be since we use sex and gender so interchangeably in everyday life. Instead, gender is primarily designated based upon a person's expression of an engagement in certain attributes, roles, and behaviors that are assumed to be naturally related to their assigned sex. But what is feminine and what is masculine and how do we know? As we have already discussed, femininity and masculinity are culturally and historically specific subcategories of gender. This means that what a culture or society deems feminine or masculine, or what attributes roles or behaviors are associated with a certain gender are not natural, innate, or universal, but are socially designated products of social negotiation which can change over time and vary across cultures. Take a few minutes to create a list. In one column, lists all the attributes, roles, and behaviors associated with women in your society. In another column, lists those associated with men. Next time we will review our list to understand how gender norms are created, challenged, and changed. If you're interested in learning more about gender as a social construct, consider listening to a recent episode of a podcast called The Hidden Brain. This episode is called the edge of gender, and it explores several perspectives on how children learn what gender is and about their own gender identity.