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‘Gender Identity is not simply a matter of biology’

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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.

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