Women and Men Are Made, Not Born Essay

998 Words Dec 2nd, 2008 4 Pages
‘Women and men are made, not born’

The statement by Simone de Beauvoir, ‘Women and men are made, not born’ proposes that a person acquires the identity of a man or a woman over time, by means of complex social processes. Beauvoir’s statement suggests that gender roles and behaviour are not inherent and that social positioning should not be determined by sex. This essay will begin by drawing a distinction between sex and gender, and will then discuss two arguments that explore the origins of gender difference; social construction theory as implied by Beauvoir’s statement, and the biological determinist position. Gender refers to the socially constructed categories of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and the attributes and behaviours that
…show more content…
They argue that male traits have there roots in chromosomal differences, XY rather that XX chromosomes, hormonal differences and other natural characteristics that distinguish men from women. The same pertains to women; women may have an intrinsic maternal nature for example, because their biological or genetic characteristics allegedly generate this behaviour. Thus, according to biological determinists, women and men are born, not made. It is evident that there are significant problems with this argument. It is readily observable that femininities and masculinities differ considerably across different environments, have varied throughout time, and that there is heterogeneity within each of the two sexes. For example, the Tchambuli women demonstrate a reversal of European gender roles, the woman are generally dominant and the men emotionally dependent. Femininities have also changed over time, what it is to be a woman now is very different to what is was to be a woman in preceding generations. Biological determinism is flawed because it supports an essentialist view of gender that assumes common traits and ignores differences among the same sex. In the face of such diversity, it is difficult to support the claim that there is a necessary connection between female bodies (or male bodies) and particular gender traits. To revisit our earlier question, what is the relationship between sex and gender? Perhaps Beauvoir should have written ‘Women and men, are both

Related Documents