What is Gender Studies?

Gender Studies, as the name suggests, is of course the study of “Gender”. So how should this gender be understood? Some scholars call it “social gender”, but in fact, up to now, there is no unified and clear translation in Chinese.

I have a simple explanation myself: Sex is our physical characteristics; Gender is the thing that separates us into “male” and “female”, which is what the old people call “men and women are different”.

For example, men have prostate glands and women have ovaries, which are biological characteristics; boys wear blue pants and girls wear pink skirts, which is “gender”. In fact, there is no scientific data to prove that boys are born to like blue, and girls are born to like pink. Our culture invented a system to create a “male role” and a “female role”.

Just like the cute gingerbread man cookie, it is not born so cute, but is pressed out of a mold with flour, butter and sugar.

The thing “Gender” is like two sets of molds, one is called “male” and the other is called “female”, and the babies born are “made” into two groups of males and females. This mold defines the social role you play, the social obligations to perform, the code of conduct to abide by, and even your social value. As for gender studies, this model is what we study.

We will ask a series of questions, such as:

Who has the authority to dictate what this mold looks like? (study of social institutions, distribution of power, political law)
Why make this mold like this? (culture, religion, ideology)
What is the relationship between these two molds? (Gender Relations, Psychology, Psychoanalysis)
What is the relationship between mold and social environment? (postcolonialism, imperialism, democracy, capitalism)

So, Gender Studies and Sexology are not the same thing at all. Gender studies mostly belong to the social sciences and humanities, while sexology belongs to biology or psychology. In short, if you want to be an enviable “sex guru”, then sorry, gender studies can’t help you. If we say that the study of sex is: how to achieve a great sex life, and the study of gender is: why we want to pursue a great sex life.

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