DISCLAIMER (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) I am not going to feign qualifications that I don't have. I don't hold any sort of degree that would make my word ironclad on a topic like this, and I would encourage you to do your own research, when you have the time, if you should feel especially curious on this topic. As well, I'm going to focus more on what is, rather than what should be--I am not going to argue moral stances and tell you what is right or wrong about the perception of gender. I will be focusing primarily first on the biological aspects of gender, and then from there, drawing conclusions and examples of how to incorporate it into your works. Again, just to make it clear: I will not tell you that your perception of self, or anyone else's perception of self concerning their sex, is in any way, shape, or form, anymore valid than my own. This is purely to explore the differences between the two sexes, and illustrate how this can manifest itself in a character. If you're new to writing and are trying to grasp more basic aspects of a character, let me leave you with this parting piece of wisdom: "Fantasy is an escape from reality, it does not have to conform to what we know to be true." Write what makes you the most interested, what is most exciting to you, even if it defies conventional wisdom. It should also be noted that this is a fairly advanced level guide. The information presented is not in any way required knowledge, but will equip you with more tools above and beyond the basics to create more detailed, intricate, and complex characters. SEX DISCLAIMER (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) This guide contains references to male and female sexual organs and the reproductive cycle in women. It does not, however, contain any sort of content that could be considered pornographic. I just figured I'd warn you that I won't shy away from body parts everybody should know about by now. Parts 1 & 2 explain useful information to understanding the biological differences between the genders. Part 3 demonstrates examples of where this can be practically applied in simple but interesting ways. Part 4 wraps everything up with a nice, bright red ribbon. Part 1: Terminology. Before we continue, there is a few things we should define first to avoid confusion, as this topic is rife with people's personal interpretations. Sex is the purely biological representation of the physical parts which one possesses. Sperm-producers are considered Male, and egg-producers are considered Female. With a select few exceptions, this is typical of the animal world. Sexual Dimorphism is the biological differences between each gender of a species. Homo Sapiens (humans) are sexually dimorphic. Gender is the set of characteristics which pertain to, and differ between, femininity and masculinity. This both addresses physical and sociological characteristics, and as a word, has additional potential connotations about the subject dependent on the context in which it is used. Sexuality is merely how one expresses themselves sexually. While this does include the more obvious sexual attraction (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, et cetera) it also includes how one expresses sexual attraction. (Ex: What kinds of flirtations you use, and how you interpret your own sexual identity.) There is more than this to the wonderfully complex world of gender, but this should be all we need to define for the purposes of this guide. Part 2: Humanity is a Sexually Dimorphic Species. Exactly as it says in the title. Males and Females have biological differences that preclude them towards certain behaviours, and in some cases convey more advantageous characteristics towards certain activities. Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars. Note: These are about the differences in homo sapiens who are undergoing--or who have completed--puberty. Prepubescents have smaller differences between the sexes as the biological need for them to become more specialized entities has not yet triggered! Firstly, the two major chemical differences in men and women: Testosterone, and Estrogen. Males have significantly greater levels of testosterone than females, though females do possess small quantities of testosterone. Testosterone is a naturally produced growth steroid that services in human males to increase muscle growth. Its side effects include increased competitiveness and aggressiveness. They are the primary male sex hormones--in other words, when a male encounters someone or something of a sexually attractive nature, these hormones will flood their system. When women take testosterone or have an unusually high natural level of testosterone in their system, their voice deepens, their clitoris enlarges, their muscle mass increases, and they gain acne. This can also lead to infertility and other health issues, such as obesity. Females have a significantly greater level of estrogen than males. Estrogen is also a growth steroid, but promotes feminine characteristics and is required for a healthy sexual reproduction system in women. Part of why menopause does render women infertile is dropping levels of estrogen in the blood stream. Estrogen has also been linked to women's emotional states, and causes increased levels of depression. It's also responsible for producing additional serotonin receptors and the overall level of serotonin--the "feel good" chemical. When men take estrogen or have an unusually high natural level of estrogen in their system, it results in a decreased size of the testicles, the loss of muscle mass in their limbs, and more brittle bones. There are other side effects as well, such as the development of breast tissue and the tits growing darker in colouration. For some rapid fire tips and differences... Males have upwards of 30% greater lung capacity than Females, meaning that Males can take less breaths to receive greater levels of oxygen to feed their muscles and tissues during extreme physical acts. Males have overall greater mass in general, typically weighing between 20-60 pounds more than their Female counterparts. Males are typically shorter than their Female counterparts as prepubescents, but during puberty ordinarily grow to be taller than their Female counterparts. Females have slightly greater levels of average fat than Males, as Females require more fat to survive. It is both for their reproductive organs/cycle, and as part of their estrogen-producing cycle, which is why athletic women typically have lower levels of estrogen. While data is presently inconclusive, the myth that Females can tolerate more pain than Males is patently false in almost every regard. There are many, many more subtle and small differences you can start reading about here, should you be interested. As a final note: While it does seem stacked in the nature of Males where it concerns physical feats, it should be noted that Females have the capacity to gestate and maintain the appropriate internal environment necessary to produce offspring for months! Essentially, Males are stronger overall because Males don't have to give birth to children, which is absolutely necessary for the continuation of the species. Ergo, biologically speaking, Males are actually disposable: Females are not. So in that respect, be glad we don't live in the medieval era anymore. Part 3: Applying Knowledge to Characters. Here are a few examples of where differences in the sexes can matter, if you should so choose to apply it. Combat It can be stated as fact that, in medieval combat, Males have a biological advantage against Females. Take for instance, shield-wall combat like in the era of the Romans or Vikings. A person who has a 60 pound advantage on their adversary, will easily shield-charge an opponent, knock them down with ease, and then beat their skull in with the safety of armour protecting their vulnerable innards from any blade the opponent may be wielding. When stopping a charge of horses, you want someone big and strong holding the spear that is attempting to stop the 1,000+ Pounds of flesh bearing down on you, lance and all. When wielding a bow that has a 100 pound draw strength requirement, you can bet that Males--who have 40-60% greater upper body strength than Females--will find it much easier to wield the war bows of old. That being said, on a modern battlefield, guns render the strength question irrelevant. The only strength you need is the kind to pull the trigger, and where it concerns reaction times--that is, how soon a person can spot incoming trouble and physically respond to it--Males and Females are relatively on par with each other. The further technology progresses, the less the biological differences between Males and Females matter in combat, especially when related to mechanical adaptions--vehicles and cybernetics. To get around these kinds of issues in a fantasy setting, try wielding magic to your advantage--such as magical gauntlets that increase the strength of Female users. Magic also tends to be universally gender neutral, as it's a mind-based activity and human brains are almost identical in capacity and ability between the sexes. There is also technology such as Steampunk that, while it doesn't exist in the real world, can balance the playing field between the sexes. (Ex: Perhaps the aforementioned magic gauntlets could be steam powered instead.) Physical fighting prowess, IE martial arts and other such mental skills, can also aid (though not entirely equalize) the playing field between the sexes. Females are almost on par to Males where it concerns agility and dexterity, so tasks with these feats in mind are something women can still excel at in combat. Psychology As testosterone increases the natural competitive and aggressive drives, Males will be more likely to... Have a strong natural desire to protect those they consider sexually attractive, as well as pursue carnal relationships with them. Engage in friendly or even deadly competitions. (Ex: High speed racing.) Seek out professions and tasks which either have an extremely difficult competitive edge (ex: Politics) or professions which require great physical excretions. (Ex: Construction/soldiery.) Have physical fantasies and desires: Such as owning a supremely fast motor vehicle, owning an extremely powerful weapon, or otherwise manifesting their physical achievements. As estrogen increases the severity of depression and serotonin, Females will be more likely to... Exert greater control over emotional situations, and be better able to detect and manipulate the emotional states of others. Put greater emphasis on family values and protectionism over the young, as well as promoting child-rearing values as a primary value to search for in Male (or Female, if you swing that way) counterparts. Seek out professions or tasks which require great attention to detail or people skills, especially where it concerns the young. (Ex: Therapy, nurses, educators, librarians, et cetera.) Have emotional fantasies and desires: Such as obtaining a romantically fulfilling relationship, being considered valuable by others, et cetera. Note: This is a rule of averages, ergo it's a soft rule--exceptions can and do exist in sufficient numbers to prevent these from being absolute standards to adhere towards. As well, these only affect behaviours--anyone can learn how to overcome these natural urges and wield control over them to be whoever it is they wish to be. That being said, it makes for a more interesting character to have a person overcome what feels natural, as opposed to being a static brick: Like a woman who wields incredible emotional control, but still feels the more intense emotions underneath. How about a man who, fighting against his competitive instincts, does everything in his power to be cooperative and charitable? Perhaps even merging such concepts: Like a man who loves to enter competitions to donate his winnings to the poor. It should also be noted that in a historical context, Masculinity and Femininity were likely created as a result of the interpretations of these differences in older societies and cultures on a societal level. Such concepts evolved over time to what we have today, and whether they are entirely relevant to modern day society or not is up for heated debate: Come to your own conclusion. Other Races While homo sapiens are a well understood, done deal where it concerns biology, what of other races? Are Dwarves sexually dimorphic, or are they nearly identical in construction? Are Female elves more agile than their Male counterparts? Are there different sub-species of Homo Sapiens in the world, such as "Mountain Men" or "Lowland Peoples" that might have differing genetic variables that change how the sexes work? Sexual dimorphism doesn't have to be limited to Homo Sapiens, and in real life, there are hundreds of other animals that are sexually dimorphic in nature--some in which the Female is stronger and more powerful than their Male counterparts! So why limit fantasy races at all? Incorporating it can add another, easy level of depth to the race your character comes from! Part 4: Conclusion. This was a lot of heavy information and I recommend that you bookmark this guide for later in case you need to refer to it. In general, remember the following as summarized tips about the sexes. Males are stronger and heavier, Females are equipped to give birth--something Males obviously can't do. Females are more emotionally acute than their Male counterparts--sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Psychologically, Testosterone and Estrogen affects the behaviours of Males and Females, though humans are intelligent enough to be able to understand, manipulate, embrace, and counteract such impulses. Males are more prone to competitive and aggressive behaviours, Females are more prone to empathetic and familial behaviours. (Though neither is mutually exclusive--Females can be competitive, Males can be empathetic.) Consider the level at which you want to address and incorporate differences in the sexes in your characters, and remember that in fantasy, you can escape from reality in any way you so desire--including biology. Feel free to leave questions or comments--I like seeing others give their opinions, so long as it's constructive or inquisitive. Now, after getting through all that heavy information, here's a happy ferret to relax. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!