Consciousness has no gender

Can you tell your own gender?

Descartes famously separated body and mind. While our bodies clearly have a gender, some argue that our minds do not. Consciousness is not physical; can the immaterial awareness that makes up the core of our identities, have a gender? writes Olivia Fane.


Here’s a question I’ve been pitting to friends and family this last month: if tomorrow you woke up without a body, would you be able to guess what gender you are?

I’ve been asking it since I listened to a radio program on Radio 4 recently on gender and artists.  Female artists earn ten percent of what male artists do, but when potential buyers of a painting were asked to guess the gender of the artist, they confessed they hadn’t a clue.  Obviously, some mega injustice is going on here, but also something far more interesting: when we don’t know a person’s gender, it’s well nigh impossible to guess it by the work they do.  We can’t tell the gender of a musician, or a composer.  Exami

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Tara Doridy 22 December 2022

My gender is female. I clearly identify myself only as a woman.

James Sawyer 28 September 2022

But one can't wake up without a body, it's a nonsense to assume consciousness without the underlying biological support. And the biological support has specific hormones which impact the development of the individual as a whole, thus the 'wants' and thoughts that run through one's mind.

Jim Balter 17 September 2022

There is a whole lot of confusion here.

"Descartes famously separated body and mind."

Or infamously. And we've been living with this mistake ever since.

"While our bodies clearly have a gender, some argue that our minds do not."

"Some argue" every possible thing.

"Consciousness is not physical"

Yes, it is.

"can the immaterial awareness"

There's no such thing.

"that makes up the core of our identities"

What does this mean? What is "our" here? We are embodied whole persons who exhibit a number of physical traits, including our preferences and personalities.

It's good to challenge and push back at sexism and point out unjustifiable disparities in pay and treatment, and the fact that sex and race biases disappear when people are put behind screens and their names are hidden, but it doesn't help to surround it with such a conceptual muddle as we see here.

Ask the gender question to trans people.

Robin H 15 September 2022

If being genderless was superior to being gendered for our species in terms of survival and fecundity, nature will determine that we shall evolve to be genderless in due time

Robin H 15 September 2022

Consciousness may as well be genderless. Physically speaking however, our bodies have evolved to be gendered into male and female form likely because being gendered provided survival advantage to our species over being genderless.

Robert Kruszynski 14 September 2022

Will do. Many thanks.