Guest post: Spongy definitions

Originally a comment by Freemage on On thin ice.

To an extent, the whole Trans Debate has come down to which set of adjectives the nouns “man” and “woman” should be tied to–GCFs hold that those terms apply to “Male” and “Female”, while TRAs insist that they apply to “Masculine” and “Feminine”.

The TRA position falls apart once you give it a hard look under this light, because it’s trivially easy to point out that the latter adjectives have spongy, shifting definitions, and as categories have often had traits that swapped from one side to the other. Computer programming used to be a feminine occupation, for instance, because it was unglamorous and relatively low-paid. Once it became more rewarding, men invaded and it became a masculine domain.

(Actually, the battle’s a three-way. TRAs want to slave sex to gender (if you want to wear dresses, you’re a woman), Socio-Religious Conservatives want to slave gender to sex (if you’re a woman, you should wear dresses), and GCFs want sex to be a distinct category and ‘gender’ to be burned to the ground (wear a dress if you want to, it doesn’t make you a woman).

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