Study in language and gender
By Amber Bennett
Humans became interested in differences between the sexes as soon as they realized that there were two sexes. Their interest led them to observe that men and women often master and fulfill different roles in society. When technology reached an appropriate level, they discovered that there were X and Y chromosomes and hormones unique to each sex.
Chiñas believed that men and women lived in separate worlds. While I agree with most of her thesis, I disagree on this point. Men and women, by virtue of necessity, live together, and function in the world together. While there are undoubtedly times when men and women are excluded from one another, such as male initiation or child birth, they continue to interact, and it is in these interactional patterns that I seek differentiation. The men and women in a given culture share the same environment; they simply perceive it in different ways, and these varying perceptions affect how they interact. Chiñas in her introduction, wrote, "One of the first rules of logic teaches us that comparing things which are dissimilar leads to invalid conclusions. But where sex roles are concerned, the comparisons are too often implicit as are the assumptions derived from them. Perhaps we have overlooked the 'action' of women's roles in many cultures because that action is qualitatively different from that associated with male roles. (1973: 2)" I understood her view, but I believe that these "qualitative" differences are not the key. The key to understanding gender diversity, as