Gender Roles Essay

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Argumentative Essay on Gender Roles

“How Parents Raise Boys & Girls” by Adam Bryant and Erika Check is a very interesting article about nature vs. nurture. The article takes a look at how biology and the environment affects gender identity. This review also gives parents advice on what they should do to help children form their own gender identity.

To support the biological influence on gender there is research on Bruce Reimer, who had his penis removed as a baby due to an accident. Due to this accident, his parents were told to raise their son as a girl. Although Bruce’s parents were raising him as a girl, he had characteristics of a boy at play. He played with cars, planes, and guns. Later in Bruce’s life, he realized something was not right and reclaimed that he was a male instead of a female. With this information, many say that gender is shaped solely by biology.

There are several topics in the textbook, Child Development, which also support the biological influence on gender. Everyone is born with human sex chromosomes. Females have two X-shaped chromosomes while males have an X-shaped and Y-shaped chromosome. Females have the sex hormone estrogen, which helps form their sex characteristics. Males have the sex hormone androgen, which helps form male genitals.

Also in the textbook, we find that both Freud and Erikson believe that an individual’s genitals influence their behaviors.

On the other side of this nature vs. nurture issue is the environment’s effect on gender roles. It has been found that parents influence their children by giving them gender-specific toys. Boys are given cars, while girls are given dolls. Parents seem to talk more to their daughters and encourage them to be sensitive and help others. Boys are encouraged to not show their emotions such as fear and crying. Parents generally want their daughters to be feminine and their sons to be masculine.

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The textbook also has several issues with the environmental influence on gender. They suggest that parents are not the only environmental influence, we also have peers, teachers, and the media. We find here again that parents wanted their girls to be feminine and boys masculine, to do this they provide rewards and punishment for actions. Peers affect our gender identity by approving of gender appropriate activities and disapproving of non-appropriate activities. Many teachers have an influence by giving males more attention in academic activities. In the media females and males have gender-specific roles in which they play. Individuals seeing this media want to be like the characters they look up to, which influences their gender roles.

There are individuals who believe that gender is influenced solely by biology or solely by the environment, but most agree it is made up of both. With different studies, it seems we go back and forth between the biological and environmental influences. In my opinion, I believe that we use both in developing our own gender roles.

In this article, it is suggested that parents not push their children too strongly into gender-typical behaviors. This will give the children a chance to make choices on their own and do things they like. I strongly agree with this suggestion to parents. When I was young I was forced to take dance classes which I disliked very much. My mom wanted me to be in dance class and all the other little girls in the neighborhood were in the class. This is a good example of environmental influences with parents and peers. When my mom would not take me out of the class I formed the opinion in my mind that my mom was going to drop me off and never come back for me. This was a very traumatic time in my youth and I cried during every class. With this in mind, I have always stated that if I had children I would let them have their own opinions and not force things on them. I believe that children should not be forced into gender-typical roles and be allowed to do what they like.

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