Creating Gender: Nurture Vs. Nature

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Juliana Ramirez

English 103

Tuesday 6p.m.

Gender: Nurture Vs. Nature

“It’s not just what we inherit from our mothers and fathers that haunt us. It’s all kinds of old defunct theories, all sorts of old defunct beliefs….It’s not that they actually live on in us; they are simply lodged there, and we cannot get rid of them” (Lippa 81). What are the things that factor into the femininity of a women and the masculinity of a man? This quote found in “Gender, Nature, and Nurture” by Richard A. Lippa helps to understand what the different possibilities could be. Lippa says that we do not inherit our gender through what our parents have told us, but it is something that is within as and we cannot escape from.  Over the years it has been an argument between many to really define a concrete answer for this question. If a person were to look at a little girl whose mother loves the color pink, dresses her child up in dresses, and constantly reminds her of how a girl acts; it could be that it comes from the nurture part of our lives. Then, there is the factor of nature when giving a child the choice between a truck and a Barbie doll and they pick the truck instantly without anyone telling them. How is it that this can be given a solution when so many things can affect the possibilities? The two factors that can be analyzed to help find the answer are the biological factors and the Social- Environmental factors. The biological factors will say that it is already inside our mind that we are either a boy interested in trucks and boogers or we are a girl infatuated with the color pink and princesses. The Social- Environmental factors may seem to have some part of the development in our brains reflecting our gender, although it is more secure to believe that it is the biological factors that really make up what we are inside.

        To begin there are many parts to the social environmental dynamic. In Lippa’s writings it is said that there have been theorists that have said the behaviors of women and men could have possibly been learned through the different conditionings (104). The way that Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate at the ring of the bell, men and women learned to behave in certain ways or react to certain things by their gender. The way this applies is through words that are said to either sex. There are words that imply different definitions and feelings for each gender. If a girl is told she is sweet or polite then she gets feelings of happiness and joy. This causes her to react to the word and is now conditioned to be sweet because of the feelings that have been connected with those words. Now, if a boy was to be called a sissy it would bring him to feel ashamed, disgusted, and withdrawn. When the boy feels this way about the word directed to him, then he chooses to not act like a sissy to avoid such feelings. It seems as if some words are more directed to women then they are to men. People do not tell girls to refrain from acting like a sissy because it can be set in the mind that women are more likely to act like sissies. There is also the way that children are conditioned through reward or punishment (Lippa 105). If a parents daughter approaches them asking if they could join the cheerleading team at school then it is likely that they will be happy and may even praise their child. On the other hand, if a boy were to approach his parents asking to join the cheerleading team at school it is possible that his parents will be angry and discourage him from making such a choice. It is through the ways people are conditioned socially that they learn what is expected of them because of their gender.

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In addition, there has also been the belief that children are social learners which can mean that they learn from what they are around (Lippa 105). When a child reaches a certain age of understanding the child will mimic what they see around them. A girl will see her mother put on makeup, do her nails, and hair. When the little girl sees her mother do this, she then goes to the mirror and will attempt to put on makeup, paint her nails, and brush her hair. Little girls will tend to see what the women around them do and ...

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