What is the difference between Sex and Gender in the language?

Referent: mgr Maria Książkiewicz

Data: 25 czerwca 2023

Godzina: 16:00

What is the difference between sex and gender from a linguistic point of view and what are their semantical roots? Which relation to Christian anthropology do they have? These questions have been the topic of the most recent fides et culura 2020 meeting, held by Maria Książkiewicz, a linguist by profession. She started her lecture by defining the two key terms – sex and gender. So, whereas the term sex refers more to the biological state of having a male or female body form, the meaning of the term gender is broader and also includes the personal as well as social dimension of the concrete biological situation of being male or female. According to the Britannica dictionary “gender”, Maria explained, describes also a person’s own sense of being a male or female or neither one of them as well as the ways of thinking, behaving etc. that are typically or traditionally associated with one sex. As the language is a tool to describe reality, this linguistic differentiation has its roots in social phenomena; first and foremost rooted in the philosophical ideas from Judith Butler. In her famous book “Gender trouble” she described sex and gender as two different concepts to be assessed separately and proclaimed that most people live and love heterosexual only because this is the only form of lifestyle they are familiar with (keyword: “forced heterosexualism”). Questioning the sexual integrity of body and soul, a legalization of body transmissions to different sex and strong LGBTQ+ movements followed.

The Christian anthropology formulates in a sense a counter-proposal: according to the relevant declarations of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, presented by Maria, its doctrine concerning the human being is built upon the presumption of the unity of his body and soul. Further in no. 2331 the Catechism stipulates the creation of humanity by God in a twofold way: male and female in His own image – the second counter-point. These fundamental provisions are also cornerstones for Chrisitan concepts of vocation: according to Edith Stein one’s vocation can be understood threefold: the general vocation of the human being, the very individual vocation of the individual person and the unique vocation of men or women. The meeting ended with a vivid discussion initiated by the question, if God is a woman. Thus, this meeting has been a great, cross-disciplinary debate turning the spotlight on the meaningful issues concerning the relationship and interactions between sex, gender and personality highlighted from the unique angle of language, but not stopping there at all.