Gender Role Behaviors: Biology and Society Share Responsibility

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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
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Blum disagrees. She makes it clear that she believes gender identity behaviors are caused by more than just the society in which we live. She demonstrates good reason behind this belief in an anecdote about her young son, who at the age of two loved dinosaurs, but only the carnivores, not the wimpy plant-eaters: “I looked down at him one day, as he was snarling around my feet and doing his toddler best to gnaw off my right leg, and I thought: This goes a lot deeper than culture” (Blum 574). When thinking of the behaviors of young children, it certainly does show that society alone cannot fully determine gender behaviors. As Blum says, “Preliminary work shows that fetal boys are a little more active than fetal girls. It’s pretty difficult to argue socialization at that point” (Blum 577). It’s impossible to say that society can influence even the behavior a child who has yet to even see the outside of his mother’s womb.

Masculinity is generally demonstrated by high levels of aggression and a certain dominance (Devor 567). Both authors can, of course, agree on this. It is indisputable that males in general have a tendency to be much more aggressive than females. Blum points out that in domestic partner murders, the man is usually the one who instigated the fight, regardless of which partner is murdered (Blum 574). Why is this? Devor believes that this aggressiveness stems from the roles that men are

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