Gender: Nature Or Nurture? Essay

1726 words - 7 pages

There has been much debate between biologists and social scientists about whether gender identity, the strong belief that one belongs to either the male or female sex category, is the result of humans being obedient to their biological genes (nature) or to their environmental upbringing (nurture). Biologists tend to believe that nature and prenatal exposure to natural sex hormones, especially androgens, determines one?s gender. Social scientists tend to believe that nurture and socialization are responsible in determining one?s gender. Many experiments have shown that biologists are correct, that human beings follow nature and other biological factors in forming gender identity. (I am changing it to: Biologists are correct though, human beings follow nature and other biological factors in forming their gender identity.) OK...what?s your argument? Social scientists believe that humans are psychosexually neutral at birth, meaning that humans are not born with a male or female gender identity, only male or female genitals. They believe that humans choose a gender after several years of life. Nurture supporters presume that during childhood, humans form gender-related behaviors through a series of rewards and punishments; children are ?rewarded? if they play with the toy of their gender and are ?punished? if they play with a toy of the opposite gender. Nurture supporters also believe that children learn how to be only one gender, and this learning occurs through watching the parent and other role models of that gender. Could you then argue that boys who grow up in single mother households are much more likely to be gay? Biologists, nature supporters, on the other hand, believe the opposite about gender identity formation. They feel that exposure to certain sex hormones while in the womb determines gender identity. Prenatal exposure to androgens, male sex hormones, determines male gender identity in normal XY male babies (an X and a Y chromosome are needed for a baby to have physical male characteristics). Nature supporters presume that since prenatal sex hormones determine gender identity, children will gravitate towards toys of the gender they associate themselves to be. Once children have determined their gender, they follow adult role models of that same gender to learn more.Since the basis of the nature theory is on prenatal exposure to sex hormones, androgens in particular, much research has been done on the effects of testosterone on certain gender-related behaviors. Those with a high level of exposure to testosterone tend to have better visual spatial abilities than those exposed to a low level of testosterone. Thus, males often have better visual spatial abilities than those of females. Exposure to testosterone is also associated to a level of aggressiveness, with males being more aggressive then females. Daughters who were exposed to higher levels of testosterone during the second trimester were more behaviorally similar to males than...

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