• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

‘Gender Identity is not simply a matter of biology’

Extracts from this document...


Sociology -Culture and the formation of identities/ Gender identities 'Gender Identity is not simply a matter of biology' Human beings are born sexual. They develop a strong sense of being male and female, the human behaviour of being a man or a woman is called gender identity. The characteristics of being a man or a woman involve biological, psychological, and sociological factors. People from all cultures have acted in relationships in different ways that are influenced by their cultural traditions and laws about sex. Human sexuality and how males and females act within the relationship can be considered as physically influenced by biology, for example hormones, brain centres, networks of nerves, and sex organs all shape the character of the male and female. However there are various arguments to this. Among the influences of gender identity, are body development and socialisation. Gender identity is related to physical appearances, feelings of attraction, wanting to dress and act in ways considered to be male and female. Cultures have acceptable roles for behaviours based on sex, called gender roles. These roles are partly determined by a person's position within the family and economy. In Western culture the family represents a unit based on love, care and preparing the young for adult life. Physical work outside the home in the past has been considered as part of the male role, work- related gender roles have changed. The female role was to give birth and maintain the home. ...read more.


A research of brain lateralization has been produced, which looks at the hemispheres of the brain. According to Gray and Buffrey, hormonal differences do make a difference. Tests have shown that girls have a greater verbal ability than boys, however boys perform better in mathematics. Bleier opposes this, she says that the difference could result from differences in socialisation rather than brain lateraliztion. 'Gender differences were noted, are small, and are almost certainly exacerbated by social factors'. Evolutionary ideas have also been a way to try and understand the difference between males and females, today this is called socio-biology, sociologists such as E.O Wilson argue that it is not just physical characteristics that evolve but also behaviour patterns. Barash backs this up by pointing out that males produce millions of sperm during their life, whereas females produce one egg at a time and only 400 in her life. The male is also interested in making as many women pregnant as possible, the female acts differently and takes a lot of time and energy in the pregnancy progress, so looks for quality in who she has sex with. Therefore she chooses the most genetically suitable male partners. Wilson says that 'it pays to be aggressive, hasty, fickle and undiscriminating. In theory, it is more profitable for women to be coy, to hold back until they can identify males with the best possible genes'. Wilson also claims that rape can be explained in this way. ...read more.


In other words men and women learn the behaviour of what is expected of them in their society. She sees four main ways in which socialisation in gender roles take place. Firstly a child learns through manipulation e.g. mothers tend to pay more attention to girls hair and dress them in 'feminine' clothes. Secondly the direction of boys and girls towards different objects gives them a good idea of what is expected of them in the future e.g. girls are given dolls (caring is practised) and boys bricks and guns (aggressive behaviour is practised and logic). Thirdly, verbal appellations ' you're a naughty boy' and 'you're a good girl' leads children to identify with their gender. Lastly boys and girls commit to different activities, girls are encouraged to become involved in domestic tasks. Recently there has been an increase on the explanations for differences between women and men, there are a variety of ways to be 'masculine' or 'feminine'. What needs to be realised is the inequalities of different amounts of male and female hormones in people. This can effect how masculine or feminine a person is for there are no strict borders of being feminine or masculine, so can partly consist of biological matters. However more evidence suggests the individuals are shaped in their gender identities by their upbringing in life, how their culture, religion, general environment and socialisation shape their roles. ?? ?? ?? ?? Hayley McGrath 02/05/07 16:31 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. What do sociologists mean by culture? What functions does it perform in society? How, ...

    They can mean and represent many things. This means people in the same culture can understand what other people mean when they do or say something, for example, language is made up of many different words which are symbols and all mean the same thing to people of the same

  2. Is identity given to us or do we create our own?

    Mead believes that we are able to negotiate the roles that we play hence self is socially constructed but is being re-shaped by our actions. A similar point is made by Erving Goffman ('The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life', 1969).

  1. classifications and social identity What have you learnt thus far about your identity and/or ...

    We classify and identify ourselves through categories such as religion, race, gender and age. We use classifications in terms of the way we dress. Certain dress styles and music are related to certain groups in society. For example, we relate people wearing veils to them being of a certain religion

  2. All societies and cultures place a great emphasis on the differences between males and ...

    semen it has to be externally acquired, as the presence of semen in the body is a sign of masculinity. The semen is digested orally, provided by older members of the men's secret society. The boys will never be allowed back to theirs mothers again and will remain with the

  1. In conclusion, I think that cross-cultural studies into gender differences has certainly provided a ...

    Her conclusion to this was that culture is the major socialising and conditioning agent, particularly in the early years. There's no relationship between biological sex and gender role. Although this has been a hugely studied work, there is some criticisms that should be brought up.

  2. What role did the figure of the prostitute play in wider discussions of sexuality ...

    chastity out of the catalogue of masculine values' but criticism of illicit sexual activity was almost always confined to preserving the honour of married women of respectable families.12 Even when men were criticised at the end of the eighteenth century for 'his sinful nature' regarding prostitutes, he was rarely prosecuted

  1. Discuss (critically and with a range of examples) the notion that identity is bound ...

    Sometimes we may 'give off' some signs unintentionally though. I agree that this is the case as I know that I display Goffman's ideas in my everyday life. In one day I can go from appearing as a conscientious student, to a loyal and responsible daughter and then a fun-loving friend.

  2. Explore conflicting accounts of Jewish Identity in

    Jew by birth" she is answered with the firm response "You'd be wiser to hush it up when you go over to Jordan. Here, you only risk an argument, but there you might get shot"[30][30]. Barbara then becomes more aware of the implications of her Jewish ancestry but believes that

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work