Social Matters: Sex and Gender
I've gotten into a few discussions about this recently so I think I should probably codify my opinion on the issue.
Sex - Do you have a Y chromosome? If yes, your biological sex is male. Otherwise, your biological sex is female.
Gender - Roughly "femininity" and "masculinity" - refers to traits culturally associated with sexes.
Trait - Something about a person. A personality aspect, skill, physical feature, whatever.
So, what do I believe?
Your biological sex pre-disposes you to certain traits. So do a lot of other things: other genes, your upbringing, environment, what you spend your time doing, surgery, etc. An individual is a sum of a lot of things.
Traits are (to paraphrase an analogy from a blogger I can't credit here because of Tweb decorum ) like a buffet. You have a load of plates with different traits on and you can pick what you want. "Biologically male" and "Likes powertools" is a possible combination but as is having only one or neither. "Sews dresses" and "Likes football" are also not contradictory - you can have both, one or neither.
The ideas of masculinity and femininity are basically a set menu. You turn up and someone directs to your side of the buffet table with "Has short hair", "Likes sports" and "Likes powertools" - you could sneak over to the other table and nab a spoonful of "bakes cakes" or "knits" but people will look at you funny. The issue is enforcement.
Gender enforcement is, roughly speaking: the fact that you're expected - as a biological male or female - to pick traits that "belong" to your sex. A male who likes sewing dresses or having long hair () face stigma and being referred to as a "girly-man." It's fine to be biologically male and like sports, it should also be okay to be biologically male and knit.
Anyway, that's a surface view of my opinion on the issue. Come back later for more "Social Matters!"