This essay begins on how to explain the biological view on gender and sex, talking about chromosomes, genes and what makes an individual female or male. It then expands to look at another perspective which is sociologically based – a social construction theory which is the theory that gender is a product of nurture and compares each explanation using a variety of reliable sources that will be referenced throughout.The theory of whether gender is based on nature or nuture has long been a subject of interest and by comparing the two theories the contrast between each becomes clear.
Biologists believe there is no difference between sex and gender. The biological theory is based on the individual factors of the inside body, it is the belief that females and males act, think and feel differently because of chromosomal and hormonal contrasts which affect the way the brain will work (Wood, 1994) meaning that the difference between men and women is in the way they are genetically made.
The chromosomes are part of an individual’s DNA as they come from the fertilization of the sperm and egg, in women there are two chromosomes that are known as X chromosomes, however men are made up of a single X and Y chromosome (Farrel and Farrel, 2003) to understand the chromosomes it is easier to say that during the fertilization if you are born without a Y chromosome you will develop as a female (Farrel and Farrel, 2003)
The biological sex of an individual is determined by genes, particularly the sex determination gene (SRY) (Jones and Lopez, 2006). This is found on the Y chromosome which only males possess, this determines the growth of the male testes. Due to the fact that women do not carry the Y chromosome it causes females to have differing genitalia as they lack the SRY gene making a person male or female in biological terms (Jones and Lopez, 2006). The genes attached to chromosomes also contain a unit of heredity which are segments of DNA passed down from parents which are then passed on to their offspring through genes this then impels the characteristics (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2015) of physical and mental behavior.
Not only do the chromosomes and genes determine whether you are a male or female in the biological perspective but the hormones also play an important part – hormones have an impact on growth, reproduction, maturation and behavior (Khurana, 2009) Men produce testosterone and small amount of estrogen where as women produce mainly estrogen and progesterone and only a small amount of testosterone (Richards, Hawley and Hawley, 2005). A Major increase in production of these hormones occur within puberty the increase of these hormones causes such things as facial hair, bone and muscle growth along with sperm production in men, within females they help to control the menstrual cycle, begin to grow body hair and breasts (Richards, Hawley and Hawley, 2005).
All three factors contribute to the biologist argument that there is no differentiation between sex and gender and that you are either male or female due to the genitals, chromosomes, hormones and genes that the individual possess. However famous sociobiologists/social constructionists such as Edward O Wilson see gender as a field of study combining biology and social studies (Rank, 2014).
Gender to the social constructionist can be defined in the following way: ‘‘gender is a socially determined construct describing the characteristics, behaviours, and roles deemed appropriate and expected of men and woman by a given society’’ (Rolleri, 2012). These characteristics, behaviors and roles are reinforced through socialization (Rolleri, 2012). The normal way to behave like a man or woman is nothing to do with the reproductive system but rather with how one is taught to act (Browne and Browne, 2008) It is the belief that gender is just a word and that the actions an individual takes defines which gender they choose to become (Butler, 1999) the belief that gender is something learnt through social norms (Butler, 1999).
Gender socialization can begin from the day a person is born it can occur through socialization: family, education, peer groups, and the media (Browne and Browne, 2008) Simone de Beauvoir claimed that one is not born, but becomes a woman (Browne and Browne, 2008) this implies that a biological female becomes a woman through gaining feminine traits and female behaviour which can only be taught through the way an individual is raised (Browne and Browne, 2008). Similar traits like aggression and strength are thought to be masculine traits however an individual is socialized into learning how to act feminine or masculine through predetermined gender roles of society (Browne and Browne, 2008). Differences in power between men and women can be expressed in many ways through such things as decision making, political roles, domestic roles and sexual relations (Browne and Browne, 2008) – for example a female is the home cleaner where the male is the money provider. Sociology sees that gender is not a fixed mark of identity and that the ideas of gender are subject to change (Browne and Browne, 2008)
Looking at the differences between the sociology and biological view on gender shows very differing sides - masculinity and femininity are thought to be products of nurture whereas the biological side is a product of nature – what an individual is born with dictates the nature of what gender a person will be. Biologists see that an individual is determined by what gender a person will become from the early stages of birth, with chromosomes taking the lead on this decision with the genes and hormones simply complying together to conform one gender. Whereas sociologists believe that an individual is brought up to become a certain gender through the environment and society the individual lives in, certain studies show that genderless children are a possibility in the world proving that it is the families and societies choice to what gender a person shall become (Storm genderless baby, 2011). Sociologists believe that gender is a subject to change with feminists taking a strong stand on what is masculine and feminine whereas biologists are unchangeable as it determined by what an individual is born with and how they are created.