Why do we need gender and society

Gender identity

The division into two clearly distinguishable genders structures our everyday life. It appears as a "natural" and self-evident fact, but is much more complex from a sociological perspective.


Most certainly remember the scene in the toy shop from the Loriot sketch "Christmas at Hoppenstedts": Grandpa Hoppenstedt wants to buy a Christmas present for his grandchild. However, the seller's question about the child's sex turns out to be somewhat problematic: [1]

Well, you will probably know whether your grandchild is a boy or a girl.

How so?

What is the name of the little one?

Hoppenstedt, we're all called Hoppenstedt.

And with first names?

Dickie, Dickie Hoppenstedt

And it uh is it a girl?

No ...

So a boy?

No, no, no, no, no.

After the question of clothing did not go any further, the saleswoman resorted to clearer means: If your grandchild had a corner, you would know ...

Little corner?

My God, then it just doesn't have a corner!

My grandchild has everything it needs! Healthy parents, a decent home, and discipline and order!

Here Loriot shows us - as so often - the absurdities and grotesques of interpersonal coexistence. The sex of the child is relevant for the saleswoman in order to provide appropriate advice on the selection of the gift, but the assignment does not seem to be that easy for the grandfather and is actually not necessary, since the child "has everything it needs" . Here, on the one hand, the problem of unambiguous gender assignment is addressed, and on the other hand, it becomes very clear what an outstanding role gender plays in our everyday lives. The existence of two clearly differentiated sexes appears to be an unequivocal and self-evident fact. Although gender-specific stereotyping is beginning to lose its effectiveness, it is still ubiquitous. Almost all everyday things are based on the binary gender division - i.e. the division into two genders without exception, starting with which public toilet we use. But is this division really as clear and "natural" as it appears in everyday practice? In sociology nothing is natural at first, everything is social; what is interesting, however, is what counts as "natural" in each case. Because gender is omnipresent in our society, there cannot be a single reason for this; usually everything is a bit more complex than hoped. From a scientific point of view, too, the distinction between what exactly men and women are and how the difference between them can be determined is more than ambiguous. So the question arises as to how a relatively small anatomical difference can have such great social consequences. [2] Therefore, the following will deal with what is socially regarded as gender difference, how scientific facts are produced from it and what consequences this has for social realities.