Monday, February 20, 2012

Sex and Gender

Recently, the ACLU sent me a copy of the complete US Constitution, with all the amendments. I was glancing idly through this booklet, when I noticed the language of Amendment XIX. The first of two paragraphs reads as follows "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

I was reminded of the first time that I attended the Episcopal Church's General Convention, as an alternate deputy from the Diocese of California. Some speaker used the term "gender", meaning "sex". A woman deputy who came from Seal Harbor, Maine - named Charity Waymouth, got up to protest the use of the word "gender". "That is a grammatical term", she said, and urged us to use the correct word in the future.

I thought of Charity's vain efforts, because now 30 years later, it is rare to hear the term "sex" used, except with respect to the sexual activity of persons or animals. I think this is a pity, and I always try to use these two important words (sex and gender) correctly.

At least, the mealy-mouthed killjoys didn't manage to amend the title of a certain TV program. I doubt that "Gender and the City" would have had much success...

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