Some Salient Dimensions for Gender-Identity Typing


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Evidence for the interdependence of the gender system with age, class, sexuality, and culture includes:

= that the ideal of masculinity is working-class masculinity, but the ideal of femininity is middle-class femininity

= degrees of masc or fem traits are normatively low for the very young and the very old and highest at the age of sexual maturity; every age grade has distinct ideal norms of masculinity and femininity

= gay males of a particular social class, age, and ethnic cultural background have distinct forms for gay-masculinity and gay-femininity, which are in some respects different correlational patterns from those for heterosexuals; thus "top" and "bottom" or analogous categories "butch" vs. "queen" have a complex relationship to heterosexual masculinity/feminity and neither invert, nor solely parody them, but are autonomous constructions in a different but related semiotic; I assume a similar situation is true for lesbians

= the forms and norms of both real and ideal masculinity and femininity vary considerably and systematically with social class, especially across extremes of social class subcultures

= the forms and norms of masculinity and femininity also vary dramatically as between ethnic cultural traditions and variants within those traditions

= traditional ideologically functioning categories for gender, sex, age grade, class, and ethnic culture are low-dimensional, biased, and unrealistic representations of a high-dimensional space of human biological and cultural variation

= if we refer to the composite system described above as a gender-caste system, then typically this gender-caste system is reduced to a stereotypical contrast of two folk categories, masculine and feminine, and conflated semiotically with a similarly reduced representation of the biological diversity of human sexual characteristics, i.e. folk notions of male and female, to create a normative exclusion (male > masc, female > fem) of most of the actual correlational diversity of human sex- and gender- relevant characteristics

= the selection, weighting, and privileging of particular traits as markers of sex and gender is caste-specific and culturally arbitrary (i.e. a historical result which could have been in any particular respect otherwise)