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A Child’s Gender: Nature or Nurture?


“ What I’m … have become now, wasn’t then… when born. I have been rendered into this other!” (Zam)

The notion of nature and nurture are considered as classical opposites of each other. They at times complement each other as well. An individual is born by the nature and it is the nature that has decided about the birth of an individual whereas nurture helps the individuals to learn so that they can become something for instance civilized (Becker, S. W., & Eagly, A. H. 2004).

Masculine and Feminine are the two sexes between which the world is segregated in terms of specie. The word sex is often confused with the word gender however both have different meanings (Chou, 2011). Sex deals with the biological, physical and anatomical areas of human life where as gender encompasses more of social and cultural difference between males and females. Further, society plays a pivotal role in designing the role of both males and females so that a differentiation could be made between two in order to maintain a social order within a society (Campbell, A. 2012). According to Simone De Beauvior, that an individual is not born as women it becomes women. Thus, the statement clearly manifests that the gender is an outcome of culture and society.

There are beliefs in a society that are adhered in order to maintain social order. A society plays an significant role in defining the roles of gender. Sam Killermann elaborates that there are three components on which the gender can be classified these include gender expression, gender identity and the biological sex. Moreover, the gender identity and the gender expression is always based on the societal values (Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. 1989). These are shaped by the society. It is the society that determines and approves the right behavior that an individual is allowed to demonstrate in order to be a part of the society. This essay shall discuss both perspectives about the gender debate that either gender is determined by the nature or it is the environment that is responsible for it.

There are variety of areas that fall in the realm of this debate and are mostly considered as taboos. Those who support the idea that the gender is influenced by the nature, such as the biological scientists and the genetics argue that everything is predetermined about the gender and sexuality of a person on the other hand the psychologists and the evolutionary theorists believe that there are certain stereotypical and the environmental influences that are responsible for the differences in the gender (Daly, M., & Wilson, M. 1983).


One of the most fluid concepts that has been studied in the past and in different cultures is gender. Most of the cultures and societies have always restrained the gender into the two binaries that include male and females however the mainstream societies as well have introduced the other concept of gender in the late 1970s. A clear distinction has always been made within the societies that what would be the characteristics that shall cause a man and woman to fall under a specific category and to identify themselves as a males or females. Further, the physical characteristics of the males and females also support the claim made the by those who believe on the theory that the differences are created by the natural processes. The sexual characteristics are based on the sexual dimorphism that is the reason there is a strong belief that they gender differences are based on nature.

The role of stereotyping cannot be ignored in this regard. It cause both males and females to be different at cognitive level as well. It means that the situations and the tasks they approach also differ in the way they are perceived and executed. Further, research studies also suggest that the behavioral patterns are the outcome of human brain, they may also be because of the hormonal secretion as Moir (2001) found that the recognition in the female babies who were four years old were more as compared to the male babies. Moreover, it is also found that the brain of the males is tend to be 10% larger as compared to the females however when the body to weight ratio is applied the female brain turns out greater.

Sex differences in Mind:

The differences between the average minds of males and females are interesting. These differences must be realized and recognized so that they could lead to the mutual respect between the two genders. These differences are subtle and are related to the relative proportion to the different drives that are present in the typical male and female mind. Such sort of debate regarding the role of biology even while considering the role that culture plays in the lives of individuals and acknowledging the importance it has in the lives of individuals, was not possible in the 1960s and 1970s. Those people who investigated the role of biology have been accused that they have defended essentialism in a way that it has caused to inculcate between the sexes perpetuated inequalities There was no such climate where the scientists could have ask the questions regarding the mechanisms of nature. In the contemporary world, the nature and nurture debate has set the pendulum in the middle and those who feel a deep concern regarding ending the inequality and the oppression from the society can talk freely about the biological differences that are found between the minds of an average male and a female (Hilliard, L. J., & Liben, L. S. 2010).

Further, the differences in the minds studied in the field of sex requires that the proceedings must be made in a way that is sensitive to the history of conflict and that must look for the evidence so that the facts could not be overstated in opposite to what the actual scenario is. One important point of consideration is that the data does not consider individuals as a whole but the merits of individuals as these merits vary from person to person. It is because of the fact that it is not necessary that an individual is typical for his/her sex.

Systemizing and Empathizing:

The process of identifying the emotions of another person and thoughts and responding to them with a proper emotion is known as ‘Empathizing’. It allows the individuals to predict the behavior of a person and helps to care about the feelings of another person. On the other hand the concept of systemizing means the drive that helps individuals to analyze the variables in a system so that the underlying rules could have been derived from the behavior. The drive to construct systems also comes under the category of systemizing. After predicting the behavior of an individual in a system, they can further be controlled in an appropriate manner. According to Baron-Cohen et al, (2002) that in a comparative analysis it is found that males tend to systemize spontaneously to a greater degree as compared to the females.

The Main Brain Types:

Brain of the males and females are defined by the two key dimensions these are systemizing and empathizing. Those individuals who have a certain psychological profile may be categorized as talented and systemizers however they are also ‘mind-blind’ at the same time (Baron-Cohen, 1995). Research studies suggest that the female brains are good at empathizing whereas the male brains are good at systemizing. The characteristics that had led to this conclusion are multifarious. The preferences and choices the individuals make play an important role while deciding about the category in which they fall (Eagly, 2012).

Culture and Biology:

The boys strongly prefer to watch videos of the cars that to watch a film that is showing about the human face etc at the age of one. This is an example of the predictable mechanical system. The preferences demonstrated by the girls are opposite to these. The eye contact demonstrated by the girls is more as compared to the boys at the age of 1. Research studies suggest that even at this stage of age, these differences may be present due to the factor of socialization. However, the evidences that exist for the differential socialization which contribute to sex differences do not tend to be sufficient information. Research studies done by Connellan and Collegaues show that among the babies who are one year old the boys look longer at the mechanical mobile -that contains a system of predictable law of motion as compared to a face of a person that is nearly impossible to systemize- as compared to the girls. The girls of one year old show an opposite profile. Thus, after seeing this scenario, the conclusion raises the possibility that the culture and socialization may partly determine the development of a brain and it depends that whether it is with stronger interests of systems or a female brain that has a strong interest over empathy. On the other hand biology may also partly determine this.

Cultural Education; a nurturing:

The culture is related to cultivate in terms of etymologically while the term ‘nurture’ is related to nurse and to nourish as well. The people who have strong connections with the religion find themselves better in such nurture (i.e. culture) and absent from the nature. This scenario is affirmed by a saying ‘Train a child in the way in which he should go”.

The second order intentionality is required in order to obtain cultural education. By first order intentionality it means that the having a commitment to bring change in the behavior of an actor and this phenomenon is widespread in the world of animals. On the other hand second order intentionality is determined as finding out the intent that can change the mind and also the behavior of the individual as well. Such type of ability is not found in the animals. Although they can be taught to socialize by taming yet they cannot be nurtured in a true sense. Further, the concept of nurture is transferable from mind to mind, in the form of parent to child, teacher to pupil etc. However, a cumulative transmissible culture is not possible to attain. Language plays an important role in this context, it comes naturally to human beings however what is learned that can be culturally transmitted, with the help of specific language. Also the content that is learned in the childhood education is also known as the non-genetic culture (Hines, M. 1982).

According to the religious people both nature and nurture are self-explanatory up to the divine preferences. They tend to believe that there is some sort of supernature, immanent thing in the nature. In the contemporary world where the biological and the other human sciences such as philosophy and many other, there is much effort that the culture could have been naturalized and equal amount of resistance could have been given to such a reduction. The socio-biologist hold that there are various principal determinants of culture and survival is only possible to those people and culture that can manage to place genes in the next generation.

Culture has remained one of a major determinants and the information that is present in the nature travels on genes intergenerationally. The information in culture travels neutrally as the individuals get the education in to transmissible cultures. The determinants that gauge the behavior of the plants and the animals are never political, economic, anthropological, technological, ethical, religious etc.

Moreover, a deliberate modification that is made within the nature tends to separate the humans in their cultures from nature increasingly so high in technology cultures. Since the human genome is being decoded, people are now standing at a point where they can rebuild even their own genetic culture (Fine, D. 2010).

The Dualism of Nature and Culture:

There is a dual inheritance system that the all the human beings live in and which includes nature and nurture. It is the intellectual and the social heritage of the generations that have been in the past and those that lived out in the present and those which transformed and tended to transmit to the next generation. Cultures, in particular the present cultures tend to change more rapidly in the recent times whereas the genes of an individual hardly change in thousands of years. Thus the slow paced genes can in no way found pace with the fast paced cultures and face certain challenges (Lott, 1985).

A mind that is relatively pliable and is educated is more of an adaptive advantageous position as compared to a mind that is with the instinctive routines. The complexity of the mind is so huge that the number of neurons and their possible connections can result in myriad of cultural options. Thus in this way it exceeds the number of gene coding so it is possible for the genes to specify all the connections amicably. These genes of an individual create an organism whose behavior is resulted from an education beyond direct genetic control. The more knowledge is inserted, the genome selected will be in the position where it could be instructed maximally by a tradition that is increasingly knowledgeable. It reflects that the consistent and the continual learning firstly require a stable intellect and further, due to the consistent approach of this for a long period of time in the nuclear families, it results in the usually large brain babies (Finkel, E. J., & Eastwick, P. W. 2009).

Critics view that the nature and the culture dualism is not a desirable legacy. They criticize the ‘versus’ in the title and claim that by incorporating this word in the title the framing of connection is done wrongly. They believe that the nature’s the milieu of culture and they also suppose that the exodus of culture from our nature is the reason of the present environmental crisis. The culture is built within the nature and it is tied to biological connections as well.

Research studies suggest that the cultural nurturing reinforces the natural genetic dispositions. They further suggest that the answer to the question that whether the individuals have the necessary enzymes of digesting the fresh milk, will determine the pastoral practices whereas the differences between the Druids of the ancient Britain and the Maoists who belongs to the modern China are non-genetic and are found peculiar to the cultures where they have been originated even though the biological nature of the Druids and the Chinese have many things in common (Abelson, R. P. 1985).

To sum, human beings (and other animals) are part of the world only in evolutionary, biological and ecological senses that is the composition of the nature and other hand the homo-sapiens seek wisdom by means of culture that is nurture. Thus the nature determines the behavioral outcomes of the human behavior.


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