July 15, 2004

Gender Bender

DG posts about Nature v. Nurture and I've got to add my 2 cents.

First of all, I'm pretty odd for my sex. I've got a lot of the traits that are stereotyped as belonging to the opposite group. No doubt, my experience as a non-normal member of my sex colors my opinion.

I think there are inherent differences between the sexes ON AVERAGE which might as well be attributed to "nature" since we've got one nasty chicken and egg problem on evolution and the beginning of life that's too hard to address right this minute.

However, I know there are plenty of people who fall outside the nature bell curve for their sex. I imagine nurture plays a stronger role for them than the people who sit happily in normal-for-their sex land. If your formative years are spent around strong gender-role role-models, presumably, you will absorb their essence, whether it's smack-dab in the center of the bell curve, or way off in outlier-land.

In short, I don't think you can say very much that's useful about a single member of either sex simply because they have the XX or the XY. But, if you get a big enough group together and you could probably make some reasonably accurate generalizations.

Finally, there's the nasty feedback loop: generalizations about groups of people of either sex are most likely derived somewhat from the bell-curve of nature. But the truthfulness of the generalizations makes them part of society's idea of gender roles. Once society accepts it as normal, it becomes nurture.

Raaaaiiiiighhht. I'm saying something oh-so-clearly here. It's this: I think there's a balance of sorts, but there's not really any way to know whether nurture or nature plays a larger role because they are inter-related.

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