Gender Roles

Essay by gowencrUniversity, Bachelor's April 2004

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Gender Roles

A boy, girl, or the choice between? The answer to this question at the birth of a newborn baby will determine, in most cases, how the parents raise the child and what "roles" they will try to teach their new child. This new child will receive all of its teaching from the parents. But how will the parents raise the child and why? Where will most of the child's identity come from, the parents or society? This argument stems back from the age old question are gender roles socially constructed or are the essential? The old Nature vs. Nurture debate. In order to talk about gender roles, gender development needs to be discussed. At birth does the physical sex of the child really matter, will the child identify with that sex they have been assigned?

According to the New England Journal of Medicine a study performed by Reiner and Gearhart determined that infant's brains that had been exposed to male hormones in utero later identified as male even though they were raised as female and under-went early childhood operations.

Reiner says that indicates that prenatal sex differentiation can sometimes trump social influence. The study followed 16 genetic males with a rare disorder called cloacal exstrophy, this is when children are born without penises, or with very small ones, despite having normal male hormones, normal testes and XY-chromosome pairs. Fourteen of these children underwent early sex-reassignment surgery and were raised as girls by their parents, who were instructed not to tell the children of their early medical histories.

The researchers later asked the children whether they categorized themselves as boys or girls. Of the 14 children that were raised as females, three declared they were male at the initial assessment. At the most recent follow up, six identifies as...