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Gender Role Behaviors: Biology and Society Share Responsibility Essay

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There are many different facets to the nature versus nurture argument that has been going on for decades. One of these, the influence of nature and nurture on gender roles and behaviors, is argued well by both Deborah Blum and Aaron Devor, both of whom believe that society plays a large role in determining gender. I, however, have a tendency to agree with Blum that biology and society both share responsibility for these behaviors. The real question is not whether gender expression is a result of nature or nurture, but how much of a role each of these plays.

Both Devor and Blum can agree that society plays a large role in establishing gender identity. In his article “Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes,” Devor states, “Gender role characteristics reflect the ideological contentions underlying the dominant gender schema in North American society” (Devor 571). Deborah Blum agrees to an extent in her article “The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over?” As stated in her article by behavioral endocrinologist Mark Breedlove, “We’re born with predispositions, but it’s society that amplifies them, exaggerates them” (qtd by Blum 574). It is clear, however that the two disagree on the extent of the societal role in determining gender role characteristics. Devor’s statement, and entire article for that matter, point to a clear belief that biology has no effect on gender roles. Instead, he believes that our views of the “natural” behaviors of males and females are based solely upon the society that we live in, that we have been conditioned to see certain characteristics as “feminine” and others as “masculine”. This ideology sparks from the belief that biological factors make males more aggressive and dominant than fem...


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...logy or society? Nature or nurture? In this case, I would say that the answer is that both biology and society have great influence on how males and females behave in their roles. The only question now is, to what degree do each of these play a role? For this answer, we may have to wait. The key thing is to know that nature starts the process, and nurture helps that process along.




Works Cited

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. 6th Edition. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 573-580. Print.

Devor, Aaron. “Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes.” Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. 6th Edition. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 567-572. Print.



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