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In his address, the Holy Father said:

According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature.

The use of the word "essence" puzzles me here. I wonder whether gender is a property of essence or existence. Isn't gender a property of the body rather than an attribute of each being? If so, gender is tied to existence. Does my question emerge from a misconception? Is there any reference about this question?

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It would seem to me that contemporary gender studies theorists like Butler tend to emphasize the performative dimension of gender -- and even in Margaret Mead's studies of Samoans we find the sentiment that "biology doesn't equal destiny"... –  Joseph Weissman Dec 23 '12 at 1:57
    
In the text linked, there is: "He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality." –  Wok Dec 23 '12 at 8:08
    
@Joseph Weissman Do you mean, the view expressed by religious people on gender is not in adequation with modern views? –  Wok Dec 23 '12 at 8:09
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I'm not sure the "views expressed by religious people" are going to be particularly consistent, or at least enough to make any comparison valid (that said it seems likely the vast majority will be gender essentialists, like the Pope); on the other hand, I would understand Butler, Mead and de Beauvoir to be articulating a critical theory of gender as "process" that's as generally accepted by the relevant theoretical communities as anything could reasonably be said to be –  Joseph Weissman Dec 23 '12 at 14:45
    
@Joseph Weissman Thanks for the clarification. –  Wok Dec 23 '12 at 22:43
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Isn't gender a property of the body rather than an attribute of each being? If so, gender is tied to existence. Does my question emerge from a misconception?

According to the Pope, gender is not an accidental property of the body, but an essential attribute of each being; that's his point. He's arguing that God creates souls as essentially gendered, and quotes Genesis 1:27 to back his argument up.

Naturally, other philosophers and schools of philosophy have very different opinions on the subject.

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Thanks! So this statement of the Pope is controversial, I was not dreaming. –  Wok Dec 23 '12 at 22:44
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It is controversial in that it is opposed to feminism, and most modern Western philosophy. From a Catholic perspective, it is not controversial at all. –  Michael Dorfman Dec 25 '12 at 11:56
    
Depends on the flavor of feminism. –  Kyle Strand Apr 20 '13 at 22:19
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