Sex Vs Gender Vs Sexuality
It is a long-standing confusion when understanding Sex and Gender, in the recent years as many identities and preferences are visible, many people still do not understand the basic and the most common differences between Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. Not all three are the same. In a country like India saying the word “Sex” itself is a taboo and according to the Indian Culture this word holds a strong meaning as many think that even saying this word makes a person dirty in mind. Why is it so?, it is because still, we do not know the exact meaning of Sex, Gender, Sexuality, and Sexual Orientations and added to it many think that both are interchangeable and even some think that these word sex and gender and consider being the same. All these made these words a little bit more complicated in understanding.
So What is it?
Generally, it is a biological difference between a male and a female with hormonal differences, chromosomes and it is something that is assigned during the birth. World Health Organization refers to this term sex as characteristics that are biologically defined. There are many debates running around the world trying to explain it simpler, but we know as a progressive thought process Sex is mentioned based on the genital parts of the person, this doesn’t make the person who they are completely or who they are attracted to.
It describes the characteristics that a society or culture labels a person depending upon the roles and responsibilities and behavior of the person. Masculine & Feminine characters are provided for each of them with a specified task. Gender is purely based on the social constructions of the environment, place, or family background.
Sex when described it is the same all over the world as in Male or female or Intersex(some child is born with both genitals this occurs very rarely that is 1 in 1500 births). As these are the three prominent biological differences considered as male, female, or intersex assigned during birth and it is the same everywhere. But in Gender, as it is said to be a social construct it varies from culture to culture and society to society depending upon the country. The gender identity of a person may not be the exact match of the Sex that they have assigned during birth for the individuals.
Considering all the cultures Gender is broadly identified as Masculine and Feminine but the roles assigned to each of these genders are completely not pre-assigned by any law or any person. The gender roles were framed by our ancestors and it can be changed when required. Taking our Indian culture when we see it from the ancient perspective Feminine Gender are identified with characteristics as “Soft, caring, affectionate, free to express their emotions” and the society has also fixed saying that feminine characters are only for female individuals in ancient times fashion and style was also segregated according to Gender identity(masculine & feminine). The fixed unwritten law for Masculine individuals are “strong, emotionless, rough, working nature, the pride of the family, responsible being” and a masculine individual are restricted towards fashion, style, habits, etc. But as we are entering into a modern and globalized era the Gender identity and roles are changing as per the individuals. In this part we have to accept that an individual has both masculine and feminine characters inside them. so trying to differentiate the person with gender has nothing to do with ones’ identity.
Gender roles need not match with the sex that the person is assigned during the birth. Gender characteristics are changeable a feminine can behave like a masculine in fashion, style with her communication, a masculine can behave like a feminine in fashion, style, and in his communication. There are individuals who consider themselves as a man or women during their birth identity, now they identify themselves as no gender or non-binary gender (somewhere in a spectrum between a man and a woman).
Sexuality is something different from Sex and Gender. Purely mentioning that sexuality is a central aspect of a human being throughout the life, that comprises of one’s feelings, emotions, understanding of ourselves, about their attractions, likings, fantasies, their relationships, roles, identities and many more characteristics to be combined. According to WHO(World Health Organization), Sexuality is comprised of four different levels
- Biological Level: Sexuality at a very core level is mentioned as the central aspect of being human throughout life which includes sex, gender identities, roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy, and reproduction. In a very subtle understanding of sexuality, most fall in this category of understanding themselves within this aspect of life.
- Psychological Level: Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles, and relationships from an emotional level. Many hesitate to express their likings or attitudes because of social, family, and peer pressure.
- Social Level: Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, and religious and spiritual factors. so understanding ones’ sexuality within these factors is really challenging too.
- Emotional / Romantic /Feelings: Sexuality includes the basic need for human affection, touch, and intimacy, as consciously and unconsciously expressed through one’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Sexuality may be the origin of happiness and satisfaction, on the other hand,
With this description of Sexuality, it is important for everyone to understand that sexuality is not like Sex or Gender. It is the ultimate point of understanding every individual from the biological level to an emotional level. Sexuality has nothing to do with Sex & Gender, but an individual is motivated through understanding themselves in a better way of knowing their sexuality. This is what differentiates people depending on their preferences as “Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Asexuality and many other preferences.