Definitionsexist term dating back to a time when specific qualities were attributed to each gender. Humorously defined by Louis J. Safian in An Irreverent Dictionary of Love and Marriage (1966) as: ' A misnomer.'
(1) Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirlingå(1567-1640): ' The weaker sex to piety more prone.'
(2) Lawrence Paros, The Erotic Tongue (1984): ' 'Sex comes from the Latin secare, "to cut or divide," and we first used the word to designate the two major categories of humanity we have come to know and love as male and female. (...) We later used the word sex not only for dividing the sexes, but to refer to qualities of being male or female. Over time we assigned specific attributes to each category. These distinctions were dutifully recorded in the esteemed OED, making it all very official. The male was described as "the better" and "the sterner" sex; the female, as "the fairer," "the gentler," "the softer," and "the devout" sex. Women were also called "the second" sex. For a period of time between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when people spoke of "the sex," they had women in mind.'
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