Friday, June 17, 2011

Gender with a Touch of Culture

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Genetics with a touch of culture

Gender- what does that word mean to you? Does it separate two different species or does it separate two different types of behaviors? Are there true differences in genders? Who decides what gender we are? Who decides what things we like and what activities we enjoy doing? Does God? Does culture? Do we? No one really knows the truth. There are a lot of opinions in our society, but no real hard evidence or facts to back up those opinions. Since all that we have on this subject are opinions and educated guesses, I will give you my somewhat educated guess on the subject.

To understand my viewpoint on this subject, you have to understand a few of my beliefs. First, I am a Christian. I believe that God created us and that God has given each of us a different personality and behavior. I believe that God gives males different interests than females because they both have two very different roles in life. So, basically I believe that genetics is the main influence on how we turn out when we are born. I believe that since genetics is the main influential factor, and God created genetics, then that means that God is responsible for each person=s set of preferences.

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Deborah Blum agrees with me in her essay, AThe Gender Blur Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over?@, she doesn=t say that God is the reason for the genetical differences, but she does say, AYes, we=re born with predispositions...@(Blum 50). She believes that genetics gives us the main base for our opinions. And our decisions on which activities we choose to participate. Blum says that the culture we live in fine tunes our beliefs and activities.

I do, however, believe that genetics is not the sole, defining factor of who we become, but they are the biggest. The other defining factor of our preferences and actions is the culture that we live in. The culture that we live in every day further develops those predispositions set by God. For example, if my genetic code makes me a more aggressive person, then I am going to want to participate in more aggressive activities. This would cause the person to become more aggressive in the eyes of society. ABut what is considered an aggressive activity?@ you might ask. The answer is decided by the culture that you live in. If the culture in which you grow and live believes that wearing red hot clothes is a radical and aggressive thing to do, then that is what you will do. If the culture that you live in believes that rock climbing or rock jumping is an aggressive act, then that is what you have grown up to believe is aggressive; and since you are aggressive, you will take part in that activity. Regardless of what activity is considered to be aggressive, your genetical lean towards activities that are more aggressive will result in your pursuit of aggressive activities as you grow.

In the same light if a person is not aggressive and tends to lean towards the more relaxing activities, the culture that they live in would still affect them. Whatever the culture sees as being non-aggressive or relaxing and peaceful, a person growing up in that culture, who has his or her genetics set up to be relaxing or peaceful, will tend to lean toward that sort of behavior specified by their culture.

Robert Goy, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, found that, if you manipulate the levels of testosterone in monkeys, you can make male monkeys that are sweet and you can make females monkeys that are very rough and aggressive (Blum 5). Goy found that the level of testosterone in male monkeys is naturally higher than that in female monkeys, which is why the male monkeys are much more aggressive. Testosterone determines whether we are insecure in a broken relationship and how hard we will take it. Tests have shown that a male generally having seven to ten times the testosterone of a woman (Blum 54) in the dating world has a high fluctuating testosterone level. When that male gets into a steady relationship his testosterone level goes back to normal and in the event of a broken relationship his testosterone level goes through the roof (Blum 55). If a male is playing a sport and his team is winning, his testosterone level is very high; and if he begins to be lose his testosterone level lowers. Testosterone isn=t the only influential factor here, but it is definitely a strong factor.

Our culture influences us greatly. The culture that we live in creates a fine line of separation between male and female behaviors. Parents raising children want their children to have the toys that the child wants to play with as long as it is within his or her gender. For instance, if a male child asked for a Barbie doll the parent would be insecure about giving that toy to their child. Blum states that only forty percent of the time that a male child asked for a Agirl@ toy he got one.(Blum 55)

In Blum's essay, The Gender Blur, Blum describes how she was raised in a gender neutral home. Blum explains how, for Christmas, or whenever she received gifts, her parents would always get her a boy's gift and a girl's gift. Blum's parents wanted her to be able to choose her likes and dislikes instead of being placed into a certain group or gender. Blum explains how a child's behavior goes deeper than simply the culture that he or she grows to maturity but doesn't exclude it. In Blum's essay she discusses many interesting statistics. For example she states that for every one crime a female commits a male commits ten to fifteen crimes. Another supporting statistic is women generally don't use a weapon in their crimes. Blum hits on the subject of testosterone and how the absence of a certain amount of it can produce a different gender. Testosterone and other genetics are the main and most influential factors; but after the main development is finished, the culture that we live in has an effect on how we live, what we believe in, how we react to certain things and situations, and what aggressive behaviors, if any, in which choose participate.

From my own personal experiences I have found that Blum's belief that, the testosterone level in a human relates to how aggressive he or she are is true. I grew up with a sister that was only one year older than me. My sister was much more aggressive than most of my friend's sisters. We would wrestle and do fairly aggressive activities. The normal games of house and doctor was played once in a while but the majority of our activities seemed to be mostly Amale. I wonder if the reason for the playing of predominately male games is a higher level of testosterone in my sister. I am no doctor but it seems if a higher level of testosterone will promote a more aggressive behavior then the only conclusive hypothesis that I can muster would be my sister has a higher level of testosterone than some of the other girls that are her age. I myself must have been chocked full of testosterone because my father told me that I was a Alittle terror. My father tells stories about me just breaking things like glass tables, toys, sticks in the front yard, and anything I could get my hands on for no reason other than I had a high level of testosterone. As my sister and I grew up, we fell more and more into the Amale and Afemale's cultural roles. The culture that we were living in did effect us both. My sister started to get involved with girl scouts and hanging out with her female friends and left me in the dust. My sister was still the same aggressive person that she always was, but she brought that aggressiveness to a more culturally accepted activity. Almost a year later, I started to do the same thing. I hung out with male friends and played Amale's games. I didn't play house anymore because the culture that I lived in was telling me that wasn't the Amale's thing to do.

The main reason for the enormous difference in gender behavior is genetics. Genetics gives us our base and maps out our main desires, likes and dislikes, and our actions. Testosterone level, part of our genetics, further specifies how aggressive we are or how we will react to certain situations. The culture that we live in is the other influential factor that takes what genetics has given it and molds and fine tunes those emotions and actions. Males and females are definitely different. I believe that the explanation to why males are so different behaviorally is God created us that way. God has given us clear lines that divide how each gender will behave in life. God has set certain guidelines that each gender genetically abides by. Certain levels of testosterone and certain behavioral patterns are, in my opinion, predetermined by God.

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