Gendered Behavior- Biologically Determined?

Men and Women are different- not necessary better or worse, but definitely different. They generally live different lifestyles, in different worlds, with different values and different rules. This is a fact that many are unwilling to admit. Unbelievable? – Just look at the evidence. Why do little girls generally play with dolls, while little boys with toy cars? Why is blue defined as a “masculine” color, while pink as a “feminine”? Where did all the gender-based stereotypes come from? Women are bad drivers, Men will never ask for directions.

Women are too sensitive, Men are not sensitive enough. Women use toilets as social regions and “therapy” rooms, while men clearly only use the toilet for one purpose only. Think about it: Wouldn’t people be instantly wary of the man who called out “Hey Jack, I’m going to the bathroom- you want to join me? ” From the shallow questions- why are men and women generally different heights? -To the more innate queries- why until the 1960s did men and women play different roles -domination of males and suppression of women? , it inevitably traces down to one conclusion.

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Men and women are primarily diverse. The question is what is the reason for this? If one were to leave young girls and boys to develop on a deserted island with no organized society, no parents, would they still be as they are today? Thus poses the question: Is gendered behavior biologically determined? Extracts from pop-psychology books profess “The equality of men and women is a political or moral issue; the essential difference is a scientific one. ” Those who disagree with the biological perspective of this issue claim equality between the sexes.

However the matter is not whether they are equal, but whether they are identical, which may be what many are confused about. Even scientific studies have shown recently that that behavior between the genders is not only physically different, but also mentally different. The most basic and direct form of evidence available for this argument is that the brain structures differ between the two ‘species’. The three main areas of the brain (the Temporal lobe, the Corpus callosum, and the Anterior commissure) illustrate these dissimilarities.

The Temporal lobe, which helps control hearing, memory and a person’s sense of self and time, has proven men to have 10% fewer neurons in this area. The Corpus callosum, the main bridge between the left brain and the right which carries messages between the two, takes up less volume in a man’s brain than in a women’s, signifying that they may communicate less. Lastly, the Anterior commissure, which also plays a role in connecting the two brain hemisphere, is smaller in men’s brains than in women’s, even though men tend to have a bigger brain size.

These facts alone should indicate that there are differences in men and women behavior. Brain scans, a fairly new technology has confirmed the differences in thinking between the two, and how they use their minds very differently when it comes to certain things. Scientist Sandra Whittleson verifies that for men, emotion is generally position to the right of the brain (meaning it can operate separately from other functions. Because of a man’s smaller corpus callosum, emotion is less likely to operate concurrently with other functions.

It is the opposite with women, as their emotion is spread widely along both hemispheres, showing that in their case, it can activate at the same time as other functions. Thus, a stereotype of the sensitivity conflict between the two sexes is proven. There are many other case studies from these scans which present a kernel of truth in other regular stereotypical beliefs. There is, of course, another “side to the story”. Society today, one many say, is very gender-based. These stereotypes may exist because people encourage them too.

Wouldn’t one agree that in today’s world, there are certain things that are and are not considered appropriate? In order to be accepted, people must conform. There are certain norms for dressing, manner, interests and behavior for males and females. Even the stranger who proclaims “What a big, strong boy you are” or “What a pretty little girl you are” is subconsciously indicating to a small child ideally cherished behavior and characteristics. It is believed by some that social conditioning is likely to determine how one acts through development.

Baby girls are dressed in pink and given Barbies to play with, while baby boys are given Action Men and Hot Wheels. Young girls are cuddled and touched, while young boys are patted on the back and told not to cry. In comparison to girls, boys are more encouraged to behave typically and strongly discouraged from engaging in cross-gendered behavior. Is this form of up-bring why men are being dubbed insensitive? Because they are too insecure to show their feminine side?

Why is it that when someone is pregnant, the first question an outsider would pose is “Boy or Girl? How such a question has has become so automatic now, so spontaneous is to be wondered of. It is also true that many in our society find gender re-assignment difficult to accept- think about transsexuals. As much as it is tried; people find the concept of this hard to grasp. The truth is there are no two ways about it; Gendered behavior is not only biologically determined, but also environmentally determined. Faced with the nature/nurture argument once again, it is strongly believed that the two are inseparable, especially in this context.

Although the more evidence found, the more people think that the difference is biological. However, no one can say it is purely so because no one knows for sure. Everything you do, every way you behave is determined by a mixture of the two. The reason may be biological, yet how much it is enhanced may be environmental, and vice versa. Understanding the identity of people can be complex, and as much as we want to, we will not be necessarily undergoing this breakthrough anytime soon.

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Sarah
Danielle
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