Gender Studies: Nature Versus Nurture


Whenever an effort is made to explain anything that is found in nature, in most cases it is very important to approach such an undertaking from a scientific point of view. The experts in the science field set up experiments to give approval or disapproval to the hypotheses and come up with conclusions on what they have established to be a fact. When making efforts to explain something that is not tangible and that is much more complicated than the behavior of a human being, it is very much difficult to set up experiments that help to come up with conclusions after carrying out observations.

On some occasions, the problems that are complex can be solved easily when they are divided into smaller sections or pieces, thus, broken down into problems that are simpler so that there can be an easier approach to them. One such example is the use of the evolution of human beings to explain their behavior.

In the course of carrying out the consideration of the human behavior source, several people in most cases present arguments about the way the behavior of human beings is genetically encoded and the level at which this behavior is learned through the interaction with the environment as well as the interaction with the society. This is where we have the nature versus nurture debate which frequently comes in when carrying out the discussion about several aspects of the behavior of human beings.

Deborah Blum wrote an essay entitled “The gender blur: Where do biology end and society take over”. The author comes up with a conclusion that, in order to give an explanation to human behavior, nature, as well as nurture, must be taken into account.

Blum draws her conclusions basically from the childhood behavior together with her engagement in the discussions with other scientists. She made the observation of her son in which she established that the son, from his early age, had a fondness for the dinosaurs and at this time, he was only two and a half years of age. However, she made an observation that “he loved dinosaurs, but only the blood-swilling carnivores. Plant-eaters were wimps and losers, and he refused to wear a T-shirt marred by a picture of a stegosaur” (Blum 454). Blum learnt a lesson while at a tender age that each and every human being, not considering whether he is a male or she is a female was exactly the same under skin. After being able to bring up two sons she raised questions about the notion that the behavior of both the male gender and the female gender is completely given shape by the interaction the people have with society. This paper is going to reject Blums view and argue that gender is completely given shape by the social interactions among the human beings.

Nature versus Nurture (gender)

Looking at gender, this is different from sexuality. Sexuality is concerned with the differences that are biological as well as physical that facilitates making a distinction between the males and the females. On the other hand, the gender differences are constructed by cultures. Such constructions (social constructions) are connected to the roles, behaviors, values and beliefs, as well as expectations that are specifically assigned to either the females or males. The differences in gender which the society associates with either men or women carry no essential biological component. Instead of carrying a biological component, gender differences carry constructed conduct that is socially agreed upon as well as the meanings that are assigned to this conduct by cultures.

According to Lorber (1), many people do not find it easy to develop a belief that gender, on a continual basis, is brought about over and over again out of the interactions human beings have with each other as they socialize, and it is part and parcel of the social life. Gender is such a well-known part of the every day’s life to the level that it normally takes intentional interruption of the people’s expectations of the way men and women are required to act to have attention to the way the gender is produced. The signals and the signs of gender are ever present to a level that people in most cases do not notice them, unless in the case where they are missing. There can be no comfort up to a time a particular person is placed in a particular gender, that is, one must be categorized as male or female.

The starting point for assigning a person gender is at birth where the observation of the genitalia is carried out to establish whether to place the baby in the category of being a male or a female. Then this is followed by dressing the baby according to the gender he or she belongs. This serves to enable parents not to have trouble of constantly telling people whether the baby is a boy or a girl. The child is also given a name. This naming and dressing, among other activities serve to give a sex category which turns out to be gender.

The moment gender of a child is established, this child will respond to the different treatment by having different feelings as well as different behavior on the basis of the way the child sees others treat one gender in a different manner from the other gender. As the children reach the time of being able to talk, they are willing to refer to themselves as the members of the gender to which they belong.

To give an explanation to the reason as to why gender assigning is carried out beginning from birth by all the people, consideration has to be made not just on the way people experience gender but also making consideration of gender as a social institution. Being a social institution, gender is among the main ways in which individuals make their lives.

Various groups of people do not stand at the same level from which they carry out the allocation of work and responsibilities, each and every one of these groups of people or societies carry out this on the basis of gender and the age levels. According to Lorber, the societies in the West value gendering that is legitimate by presenting claims that it all originates from the differences between the male and the female that are proactive. However, gender and sex are not the same things, and gender being a social construct does not automatically emanate from the reproductive sex organs or the genitalia which are the main distinguishing elements between the male and the female people. In a social construction, the differences that physiological like sex, the development stage, the skin hue, and the body size are all makers that are crude.

The social status among the people is a product of careful construction of the process that is prescribed such as getting to learn, teaching others, emulating as well as enforcement. Whatever the kind of the hormones or genes, whatever kind of evolution (biological) that makes a contribution to the social institutions of human social institutions is transformed by the social practices and this is carried out materially and also qualitatively.

Each and every institution (social) stands on a material base; however, this base is transformed by the social practices as well as culture and it turns out to be something that has different constraints and partners qualitatively.

In a similar manner, gender cannot be taken to be equal to the differences that are physiological or biological between people who are males and the people who are females. Some societies do have a total of three genders consisting of the males, females and what is referred to as xaniths, or bardaches, or hijras. This third gender consist of the biological males who portray female characteristics in the manner they behave, carry out their work, and dress up and these people receives treatment from the society as social women.

In relation to this third gender, in current Western society, there are groups of people known as the transvestites and transsexuals, though they are not treated as the third gender. These people cross over gender. The transsexuals are people who are biologically males and females who have their genitalia operated on so that it is altered and as a consequence, they change gender. More so, the transvestites are the male people who decide to live as the females without any surgery being carried on them and also females who live as men without any operation carried on them. According to Bering, “people may turn out to opt for becoming transsexual as a way of conforming to the social norms” (Bering 1).

According to Devor (56), what is seen by people as the gender laws that are natural are instead in actual sense the natural constructs. Devor goes ahead to give the main cultural construct of masculinity as well as femininity by pointing out that something interesting in regard to the roles played by those who portray the traits of the opposite sex are in general terms ridiculed and being disregarded in the society for engaging in doing away with the distinction between the male gender and the female gender.

However, Devor makes it clear that these people from any of the genders are believed to have many human characteristics in common even if it be in relative levels. There is a belief that both the female and male people are in a position to carry out the same duties. Therefore, Devor concludes that seeing men behaving like men and men behaving like women is a behavior that is human.


In summary, gender is different from sexuality. Gender differences among people are not on the basis of biology or physical characteristics but rather on the social constructions. Gender results from the interactions human beings have with each other as they socialize and it is a component of social life. Gender can not be taken to be equal to the differences that are physiological or biological between males and females. Some societies do have a total of three genders consisting of the males, females and what is referred to as xaniths, or bardaches, or hijras. People from any of the genders are believed to have many human characteristics in common even if it be in relative terms.

Works Cited

  1. Bering, Jesse. “The Third Gender.Scientific American, 2010. Web.
  2. Blum, Deborah. The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over? Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. Ed. Sonia Maasik. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.
  3. Devor Holly Aaron. Gender blending: confronting the limits of duality. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0253316375, 9780253316370
  4. Lorber, Judith. Night of this day: The social construction of gender. Yale: Yale University Press, 1994.