When we want to know how tall or how short someone is, we can query for his tallness, shortness, or height (neutral measurement unit).

Is there such a neutral measurement unit for the adjectives masculine and feminine?

E.g. When we want to know how masculine or how feminine someone is, we can query for his masculineness, feminineness, or ______ (neutral measurement unit).

Gender wouldn't work, since it seems to suggest only two points, either male or female.

  • 4
    Gender, sex. Level of androgyny? Not very clear what the exact context is, but normally there's no scale, just the two points.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 21, 2013 at 22:46
  • 2
    A woman wearing a nice dress is considered more feminine than a 'tomboy' (say, a woman wearing overalls and a t-shirt). But no, there is no measurable scale in such contexts. Scientifically, I suppose you could measure the level of testosterone and estrogen, but this is likely a different form than what the OP is requesting.
    – Doc
    Nov 21, 2013 at 22:55
  • 1
    Are you asking how culturally gender-(stereo)typical some individual is? I don’t think we have discrete units for that one, any more than we have units to describe how strong one’s manual orientation may happen to be — even though this latter (the strength) does vary between individuals and indeed is a heritable trait, unlike the orientation itself. But how strongly right- or left-handed you are apparently is.
    – tchrist
    Nov 21, 2013 at 22:58
  • 2
    Unlike fixed quantities such as height and weight, gender presentation (which seems to be what you're asking about) is quite often fluid and, in any case, not possible to "measure" in the same way.
    – user13141
    Nov 22, 2013 at 1:05
  • 2
    @RegDwigнt There are definitely more than two points. Here's a series of images that underscores how many "points" there can be for a single individual, let alone humanity at large: i.huffpost.com/gen/1468820/original.jpg
    – user13141
    Nov 22, 2013 at 1:17

3 Answers 3


Height, weight, wrist size are all unidimensional criteria that are amenable to objective measurement.

Many other human characteristics are multidimensional, but also subject to objective measurement and description. For example, voice can be measured and described, reflecting primary pitch, overtones, volume and other aspects that make a person sound unique.

Gender and sexual identity is both multifaceted and extremely subjective. It has potentially innumerable elements, and every on of those are subject to a wide range of interpretation by the observer, affected by psychological, social, cultural and personal points of view. Even the biological bases of gender are not dichotomous, and morphological structure, hormonal patterns, DNA and numerous other factors resist a scale that can be simply labeled masculine/feminine. The interplay of those variables do not lead to a straightforward continuum.

Because there is no single or simple scale, the class or category of that scale resists naming.


The most common word for this these days is "gender". There's a good discussion of this word's use in this context over the years, on Wikipedia/Gender.

  • 4
    "Gender" seems to suggest only two points as RegDwigнt mentioned....
    – Pacerier
    Nov 22, 2013 at 5:38
  • 1
    No, it does not. Gender applies to male, female and every point in between, @Pacerier. Nov 22, 2013 at 16:59

The adjective I would suggest is gendered. For example:

As a noun, genderedness. For example:

Both these words should be easily understood, although genderedness seems to be more often used in formal writing if the Google results are anything to go by.

It doesn’t make sense to use these words to directly refer to people because it’ll be confused with gender. Instead, you would refer to e.g. the genderedness of someone’s appearance.

In response to bib’s answer — it’s easy to ask questions about the genderedness of someone/something; it’s only satisfactorily answering those questions that can be hard.

  • Isn't this a measure of say how many sexist terms per page occur in a book? Is it applied directly to the character of an individual? Apr 25, 2020 at 14:39
  • @EdwinAshworth Can you explain what you’re asking? Do you want me to add more examples of these terms in contexts that don’t refer to language?
    – Laurel
    Apr 25, 2020 at 14:46
  • OP: 'When we want to know how masculine or how feminine someone is, we [are addressing their] ______ (neutral measurement unit)'. Is there an example from a reputable-looking source using 'genderedness' (cf 'manliness', 'femininity') this way? Apr 25, 2020 at 14:51

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