Can we define gender both biologically and sociologically? That question is at the forefront of the continuing debate between cultural and scientific researchers. The issue stems from a fundamental difference in how to explain gender definitions in an era of fluid identities and particularized conceptions of the body. This brief essay will outline the path this debate has taken in an attempt to see where it will take us in the future. Biologists and sociologists see the world in different ways.
Biologists tend to believe that the natural world should form the basis of our understanding about life while sociologists believe that culture is the primary driving force that creates our collective knowledge. In this way, a gap has been created between two competing theories about what and how gender should be defined. For example, sociologists critique the biological basis of gender because they speculate that cultural practices influence what type of biology to undertake.
Physical appearance, chromosomal sequencing, personal psychology, social norms, and many other factors are at work when we ask questions that transcend sexual difference and enter the realm of gender identity definitions. In the realm of sports, we have seen how outdated scientific gender testing has proven to be unreliable in determining what counts as a male or female. As chairman of the International Olympic Committee medical commission Arne Ljungqvist notes, “Sometimes, fingers are pointed at particular female athletes, and in order to protect them, we have to be able to investigate it and clarify.
” (Thomas). In order to traverse this widening gap, sociologists and biologists need a common language and framework if we hope to come to a deeper understanding of gender and how it will influence our lives. Works Cited Thomas, Katie. (2008). A Lab Is Set to Test the Gender of Some Olympic Athletes. July 30, 2008. The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2009 from http://www. nytimes. com/2008/07/30/sports/olympics/30gender. html
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