, Societal Pressures or Biological Realities
Among the most debated and researched issues in philosophy andsociobiology has been the role of nature and nurture in influencingsocial roles and behaviors. Since mid 20th century,researchers have dived into the issue of gender, prompted by the riseof feminism and fight for equal rights between men and women(Cordelia, 2013). The controversy has been whether gendercharacteristics and roles in the contemporary world are as a resultof biological differences or social constructs. There is no doubtthat there are marked biological dissimilarity between men and women.However, the extent to which they contribute to the huge disparitybetween the two genders has been a subject of discussion. This paperargues that these differences are mainly due to social pressuresrather than genetic and biological variances.
Whenever the differences between a man and a woman come intoquestion, the masculine and feminine male and female bodyrespectively comes into mind. Consequently, one starts thinking aboutthe abilities of the two bodies. This can be attributed to the socialpressures that have evolved over the centuries in a male dominatedsociety (Kimmel, 2017). Biologically, being in a chap or womanly bodyhas almost equal advantages. The natural selection has equallyinvested in both sexes. This explains the complexities in the bodystructures and brain to serve a specific biological function. It cantherefore be argued that they are both adapted to survive. Thus, menand women have characteristics that are designed to deal with maleand female problems, respectively (Pinker, 2002).
There is a common saying that men are from Mars and women are fromVenus. This explains the social constructs that have created thedisparity between men and women in the modern society. Evolutionbiologists argue that both sexes evolved together. They play acritical role in the existence of the human species. Additionally,except for the Y chromosome, their genetic makeup is similar. Theanatomic difference between a male and female brain is very small.Studies have also established that men and women are similar in otheraspects such as intelligence, emotions and feelings, and views aboutlife (Pinker, 2002).
There are distinctive differences between the two genders. Forexample, men tend to be more violent compared to females. While somescholars have argued that male hormones have a role to play, thesocial pressures have a bigger contribution. In many societies, younggirls are taught to be submissive and docile while boys engaging inrough-and-tumble play are the norm. This creates the perception thatmen are expected to be tough and aggressive. Therefore, the modernview of gender is characteristic of the social situation in which anindividual live. It is as a result of social arrangements which makedisparity in male and female members legitimate. These constructs arehowever supported by the coexisting biological features as well asnatural needs. As a result, individuals have no freedom to choosetheir own identity (Kimmel, 2017).
Claims that support the role of social constructs are based on theassumption that the ability of individuals is not a prisoner of thephysical and biological differences between a man and a woman(Cordelia, 2013). The characteristics of men in a given community arediverse in terms of masculinity, size, shape and intelligence.However, due to lack of social pressures, the disparities, as evidentin the gendered society, do not exist. The socialization process,which defines gender roles, has resulted in differences in behaviorand perceptions. Studies indicate that children behave the same at ayoung age, but boys and girls diverge as they become exposed to thenurturing of the society. This indicates that the dissimilaritiesare not inherited but learnt. For example, boy tends to develop morespatial skills because of the social expectations and reinforcementwhile girls tend to be more emotional (Kimmel, 2017).
There are several aspects of the society that influence thesocialization process and consequently the social pressures thatresult in gender differences. At the family level, parents and familytraditions may unconsciously influence children in their genderedtraditions. For example, they make choices for favorite colors aswell as dress code for respective sexes. They also reinforce genderroles by selecting toys and games for boys and girls. This isextended to the social neighborhood in which they are brought up.Although by the time children attain the age of schooling have beenabsorbed into the gendered society, the ideal expectations of theyoung men and women continues. For example, in the past, theeducators assumed that boys are more analytical and therefore shouldperform better in mathematics and sciences (Kimmel, 2017).
In conclusion, the physical and biological variations between men andwomen are obvious. However, the huge differences between the twogenders are as a result of social pressures rather than inherentcharacteristics. The social constructs have defined what is expectedof a woman and a man through the socialization process. Nonetheless,it can be argued that both nurture and nature has a role to play, thenorms in the gendered society play a more dominant role.
Cordelia, F. (2013). Delusions of gender: the real science behindsex differences. London: Icon.
Kimmel, M. (2017). The gendered society. New York, NY: OxfordUniversity Press.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank state: A modern denial of humannature. New York, NY: Viking Press.
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