Consider the following pictures/illustrations. Which of them are affected by or related to the sex of the body?
1. sperm / egg
2. heart rate
3. alcohol metabolism
5. hair loss
Photos 1, 2, 3 and 8 represent aspects of the body or life experience that are affected by the sex of the body, but not necessarily in ways that we expect. For example, intelligence is not connected to the sex of the body, but the structure of the brain is. Similarly, while we tend to think of men as being “able to hold their liquor”, partly due to differences in body size, research shows that the female body metabolizes alcohol more quickly and efficiently than the male body.
Photos 6 and 7 represent dimensions of life experience that are not affected by the sex of the body. Intelligence is not related to the sex of the body and the careers open to us are not – or should not be – dependent on the sex of our bodies.
Photo 4 and 5 represent aspects of the body or life experiences that may be affected by the sex of the body. For example, males are typically taller than females, but the relationship between sex and height is not absolute. Men are not always taller than women and the relative differences in height between males and females can be affected by other genes, by diet and exercise, etc. Similarly, baldness is usually associated with men, but women also experience hair loss. Levels of sex hormones are sometimes responsible for hair loss – making it related to the sex of the body – but other enzymes and chemicals may also play a role in balding – making it unrelated to the sex of the body.