It is beyond reasonable doubt that the lives of men and women are different . To be identified as either male or female is one of the fundamental point in anybody’s identity. Debate has been raging on as to whether the differences between men and women are either biological or they are purely as a result of our socialization process, that is, they are socially constructed. Social constructionists and feminists believe that gender roles and hence the differences between the sexes are completely arbitrary. To them biological preferences are not relevant.
On the other hand essentialists are of the idea that gender roles are purely brought about by biological differences, and are not modified by the social adaptations in the different societies. Further arguments points out that the differences between men and women are brought about by socialization process in the societies which are dominated by men. This argument has been presented by the feminists who are of the idea that the patriarchal system has dictated the types of roles that women should play and these roles tend to be feminine in nature.
To them biology has nothing to or little role to play as far as abilities and sex roles are concerned. The idea of male and female sexes is a myth according to the feminists’ writers. (Moi 1999:89) In his book titled Why men rule, Steven Goldberg (1993) maintains that despite the fact that biological differences between men and women exist there is no inferior or superior sex. He believes that each of the genders has strong and weak points. He attributes the biological differences that exist between the two sexes to be hormonal and genetically driven.
The hormones that are found in either a man or a woman determine their behavior hence the differences between the two sexes. (Goldberg 1993:67) Psychologists and biologist believe that the differences between men and women are largely attributed to the chromosomes and hormones in our bodies. They hold the notion that females and males are different right from the time conception takes place. The differences are evident in the materials that carry the characteristics traits of each individual which are passed on to the offspring from the parent.
As the fetuses continue to grow in the womb further sex differences occur as the female and male features start to be more prominent. The male has more testosterone while the females on the other hand acquire estrogen. (Goldberg 1993:78). The two hormones have great effect on the behavior of the two sexes. To some extent this explains why the boys play with the toys while the girls are inclined more towards playing with the dolls. Psychologists argue that this is largely due to the hormones which control their minds making them behave in a certain way which the society has come to regard as either feminine or masculine.
(Goldberg 1993:87) Sociologist concentration is more inclined to the evidences which suggest that the differences are as a result of socialization process as opposed to the psychologists and biologist who believe that the situation arises due to the physiological process. Sociologist argue that if the differences were largely due to physiological configurations of female and male then across all cultures all women or men should be expected to play the same roles in their societies. Since this is not the case, their argument is that different cultures dictate the roles that men and women will play in the society.
This explains the differences that exist in various cultures as far as gender roles are concerned in different communities in the world. When a child is born in a given culture the reception given is determined whether he is a boy or a girl. The type of clothes bought will be dictated by the sex of the child. (Moi 1999:123)Though biology is used to determined the upbringing of the child, it has been argued that the way boys and girls are brought up may be the same but the enculturation in the society will impart some roles which will determine the roles each expects to perform in the society.
As the child grows he or she learns fundamental things. They incorporate that fatherhood and motherhood are institutions which are different are designations and have very different implications. They learn that mothers are the women while their fathers are the men and they perform different roles at family levels and also in the outside world. Simultaneously they learn that boys are expected to play rough while the girls should be nice.
(Moi 1999:134) The notion that they are expected to do different things is incorporated in their minds as they grow . Therefore the children copy what goes on in their culture and this is what shapes them up in the rest of their lives. The process of socialization shapes them as they behave as their mothers and fathers or such kind of figures in their lives. It is believed that both nature and nurture have a great role towards the development of male and female attributes.
Nature represents the environment in to which one is brought and this is largely the culture. Culture dictates all aspects of human life the dressing mode, our eating habits, roles we perform among other things. Nurture is represents the ways were are brought up which again is determined by the culture of a given society. If as a child one is brought up in an environment where the different gender roles are not emphasized, he or she will not appreciate the differences that the society puts on both men and women.
Though one must appreciate that anatomically men and women are different, this should not be used as basis of placing women at a disadvantaged position due to the stereotypes that have existed. Labeling women as weak, emotional and many other terms that places women at a lower position in comparison with men are all derived from the anatomical differences that exist between the two sexes. Biological differences between men and women are complimentary in nature so that the each can work together for the sake of making the lives of each other better.
(Moi 1999:189) Argument that hormones and chromosomes dictate the way we behave only serves the interest of those who want to maintain the status quo, where women remain subordinate to the men. These biological chemical exist only to play some vital roles in our bodies rather than dictating the roles that men and women are supposed to play in the society. The chemical help the bodies to function properly taking into the consideration that man and women have different anatomical features.
Testesterone plays a vital role in enhancing male features but does not influence the way he is expected to behave by the society. Male behavior is largely from the observation rather than the chemicals in his body. The same cases apply to the women. The fact that men and women have are different biologically is purely acceptable in all quarters but this only represents the sex differences. The roles played by men and women is largely determined by the socialization process which part and parcel of the culture in question. work cited Moi, T. What is a woman Oxford, Oxford university press (1999)
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