Gender Roles: Biology Or Culture Essay

1543 words - 6 pages

Brettell and Sargent open their book Gender in Cross Cultural Perspectives with a question: What is the role of biology in human behaviour (Brettell and Sargent, 2009, 1). Ward and Edelstein approach this question using cross-species analysis. They compare chimpanzee biology and behaviour to humans. There are four reasons that Ward uses comparisons to chimpanzees. First, because chimpanzees represent our closest genetic relative and second, the social activities and behaviours may be reflective of human ancestors. Third, cross-species analysis is the best way to overcome cultural biases (Ward and Edelstien , 2009, 101). Finally, there is extensive and scientifically recognized body of work on the relationship between biology and behaviour.
Several of the authors also use cross-species analysis and studies to compare humans to animal models of behaviour. When using biological models to explain human behaviour, there is the fear of the justification of sexism (Zuk, 2009, 7). Stereotypes often arise from the animal kingdom (Zuk, 2009, 7).This can pose a problem for accepting biology as an explanation for gender in modern humans. Zuk counters this belief, promoting an understanding of the biology of human sexual behaviour through an examination of animal models (Zuk, 2009, 8). Ehrenberg presents primate models to show the lack of difference biologically between males and females (Zuk, 2009, 17). Ward also uses primate models, specifically chimpanzees and baboons, to illustrate the similarities between humans and animals (Ward and Edelstien , 2009, 101).
Zuk does warn against attempting to use animal models as a single model for the origin of sex roles as the animal kingdom represents a wide variety of sexual behaviours including intra-sexual behaviour and non-reproductive sexual behaviours (Zuk, 2009, 10). Animal models are to enhance understanding behaviour not to be role models (Zuk, 2009, 11).
Zuk looks at the phenonmen of sexual selection. Sexual selection is a evolutionary pressure that has two components: male-male competition and female choice. Female choice is an important female mating strategies as females have less opportunity and higher resource demands to reproduce (Zuk, 2009, 9). Thus females mate with the best possible male(Zuk, 2009, 9). Current research has revealed that females preference has been a major force in evolution (Zuk, 2009, 9). Females preference has been shown to distinguish small difference and prefer exaggerated characteristics (Zuk, 2009, 9). This may be due to a correlation between exaggerated characteristics and health and vigour, thereby being better able to survive (Zuk, 2009, 9). This was confirmed by studies of peacocks which showed females prefer the most exaggerated male tails (Zuk, 2009, 9) and bowerbirds who chose their mates based on their displays (Zuk, 2009, 10).
Martin also promotes that biology and culture are intertwined. Her approach looks at biology, more importantly the way that we teach and...

Find Another Essay On Gender Roles: Biology or Culture

An essay examining gender roles in the child's fairy tale Red Riding Hood, or "Little Red Cap".

1016 words - 4 pages Little Red CapAll too often we see fairy tales depicting one-dimensional characters put in difficult situations. This creates an almost eerie continuity between all fairy tales as we see similar situations played out again and again by even more similar characters. Little Red Cap is no exception, especially when looking at gender roles. Sexually innocent and unknowing of the world, Little Red Cap can be unsuitably titled our heroine of the story

"Gender Roles and Fashion " How do clothing fashions aid in the social construction of gender? What does a woman or man say about herself or himself with various pieces of clothing?

901 words - 4 pages or difficulty. As a social structure, gender organizes work habits both domestically and economically (Lorber 60-1).For the average girl in American society, adapting to gender roles is taught in every single facet of life. The media, entertainment, and school cooperatively exhibit and promote gender assimilation. Barbieä dolls are the first toys I can recall playing with as a young girl. Her long blond hair, short skirts, disproportionately

Gender Identity

2302 words - 9 pages theories that cover gender identity and also will be explaining differences and simulates between being male and being female. Gender identity is a large part of development that is a spectrum defined by a combination of culture and biology, and is best created by raising children as gender neutral as possible. Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis explains cultural differences in gender as a result of the unconscious. This theory comes from

The Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality

1290 words - 5 pages unchanging (except through scientific practices) is sex. If certain cultures can change gender roles and expectations, it is clearly not a set idea; people influence the way culture influences people, so the shaping of gender roles is in the hands of society. There is no easy way to define what femininity or masculinity is, or what makes a man or woman, as the characteristics vary just within a single culture; there is a greater difference

The Theories of Sex and Gender

2892 words - 12 pages the child is active in gender development; the child is self-socialising and uses adults’ reinforcements as clues as to what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable. However, Cognitive-Development Theory does have weaknesses. It solely takes stages of development into account and therefore places little or no importance on the role of biology, emotion, social environment or culture and offers no explanation as to


2102 words - 8 pages culture has a different set of cultural constructs. Cultural constructs are a set of rules or behaviors that each culture finds acceptable for a certain sex to act and apply to their life. Gender roles often vary through cultures. Gender dominance is usually found in communities where there is a strong influence on the people by their political government. Different subsistence patterns show a similar arrangement of the gender roles that they

Gender Roles

1453 words - 6 pages Gender RolesA boy, girl, or the choice between? The answer to this question at the birth of a newborn baby will determine, in most cases, how the parents raise the child and what "roles" they will try to teach their new child. This new child will receive all of its teaching from the parents. But how will the parents raise the child and why? Where will most of the child's identity come from, the parents or society? This argument stems back from

The Social Construction Of Gender

3371 words - 13 pages Gender is such a ubiquitous notion that humans assume gender is biological. However, gender is a notion that is made up in order to organize human life. It is created and recreated giving power to the dominant gender, creating an inferior gender and producing gender roles. There are many questionable perspectives such as how two genders are learned, how humans learn their own gender and others genders, how they learn to appropriately perform

Gender in Society

3436 words - 14 pages traits are not seen as feminine but instead, weak. We label the members of society based on their gender. Bem's third lens of gender is "biological essentialism". It views the other two lenses as natural because of biological differences (Bem, p2). This seems to influence our culture the most with the argument that men and women are biologically different sexually, then they must play different roles in life. Biology between men and women is

The Egg and the Sperm

1058 words - 4 pages class would be more then just biology. We would also be learning about the cultural beliefs the authors where influenced by when they were writing. If Martin's assertions proved to be true, this meant a very scary thing. It would show that silly, but serious gender stereotypes were making their way in scientific materials and further into our culture. When doing her research, Martin made sure that nobody would have any room to criticize her

The Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality

1338 words - 5 pages scientific practices) is sex. If certain cultures can change gender roles and expectations, it is clearly not a set idea; people influence the way culture influences people, so the shaping of gender roles is in the hands of society. There is no easy way to define what femininity or masculinity is, or what makes a man or woman, as the characteristics vary just within a single culture; there is a greater difference between genders than within races

Similar Essays

Gender Roles In Dakota Culture Essay

975 words - 4 pages ideas that are connected. According to Mary K. Whelan, a Doctor of Anthropology focusing on gender studies, sex and gender are different. She states, “Western conflation of sex and gender can lead to the impression that biology, and not culture, is responsible for defining gender roles. This is clearly not the case.”. She continues with, “Gender, like kinship, does have a biological referent, but beyond a universal recognition of male and female

Islamic Women And The Gender Roles In Muslim Culture

1883 words - 8 pages , the news etc.; from the veil, Islamic women's oppression, education of Islam women, and the overall representation of the Muslim women—we see negativity. Through education of Islamic traditions, history and culture, we as a society can have a better understanding of what Islam really represents. Here in the United States the Muslim “gender roles” in some other countries may seem unfair and barbaric because they are different but with proper

Gender Roles Inherent Or Socialized? Essay

858 words - 3 pages account the study of semiotics. Semiotics is a science that is devoted to the study of all the things that influence our behavior and exposing hidden cultural interests. Semiotics also helps us understand why children receive the toys that that they do. Toys play a large part into the socialization of gender roles. When giving a child a gift, we simply give them the type of toy that our culture deems it natural for that gender to be interested in

Gender Roles: True Or Fiction? Essay

736 words - 3 pages individual grows up then through media, parents, and society in general causes them to learn about their own gender roles. As children watch cartoons such as Batman or Superman, they observe how all the superheroes are strong men in which every young male would dream of being in their shoes. Men like the aggressiveness and the action in those characters, while women rather watch or play with Barbie dolls, or watch other programs for young females. Even