Gender: The Nature Vs. Nurture Debate

1300 Words 6 Pages
In regards to gender, the “nature versus nurture” debate refers the opposition between a biologically-based conception and one grounded in social psychology. On the “nature” side, gender is a matter of a person 's physiological makeup. There are varying accounts of what body parts specifically are indicative of gender, with gonads, chromosomes, and reproductive organs being among the contenders for criterion of gender. Regardless, on this view gender and sex are correlated, and “male” and “female” are the only existing categories. Those individuals born with the appropriate “male” physiology are men, and those with the corresponding correct “female” anatomy are women. At the roots of this perspective are positivist assumptions that science …show more content…
They resist the essentialist attempts of both sides to neatly classify all individuals within two sex and gender categories. It is an impossible task to assign all people to the categories of either “man” or “woman,” which both the biological reductionist and the social-psychological approach assume to be homogenous. There are too many exceptions to the generalized “rules” of theories of gender which champion positivism, such as intersex people, transgenderism and transsexualism, gender fluidity, as well as a plethora of other identies which challenge or reject the traditional sex/gender binary. For this reason, such the endeavour to cleanly divide the social world into male and female spheres would be fruitless, as it would not accurately or meaningfully reflect the social reality that people experience in their daily lives. Instead, sociologists recognize the variety (and validity) of ways in which people identify and express their gender (Thomas, May 16). Additionally, they recognize that gender, as Collin notes, cannot be divorced from its relation to other social identities pertaining to “race, ... class, sexuality and nation” …show more content…
Rather than being something which someone “has” or subscribes to, gender is instead something that someone “does” or “performs.” Gender is not something that is static, innate, and universal, but it is dynamic, socially constructed, and both experienced and acted out in a great number of different ways. While the “nurture” side gets past the reduction of gender to biology, it fails to acknowledge that the social factors which influence the development of gender identities extend beyond childhood and adolescence all the way through a person 's life. Also, though there is a relationship between sex and gender, the two concepts are analytically distinct and can interact with each other in a variety of ways which reflect the vastly different ways in which individuals are socialized. Intrinsic to this notion of gender is that is a social phenomena which is prevalent in literally every element and sphere of social life, and is shaped by individuals collectively depending on cultural and historical contexts (Thomas, May

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