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April 9 2001 The question of how the sociological discussion of gender differs from the biological discussion comes down to the classic debate of nature vs nurture The learning and reinforcement of gender roles as viewed by the sociologist come from the childs environment The nurturing idea says that children learn their gender roles from the way they are brought up From the time when a parent paints their newborn baby boys room blue they are teaching their son to be masculine When they give him a toy truck or teach him to play sports rather than play with dolls boyish traits are being reinforced Society and the media also encourage males to engage in rough play build and keep a muscular physique and act like men Females are also encouraged to act feminine from Barbie commercials to sexy ads portraying impossibly perfect figured women girls are made to feel that they need to act like women A girl who is raised and primarily interacts with boys frequently ac ts more like a boy than a girl and is sometimes called a Tomboy The idea of the tomboy supports the nurture argument of development in that the girl has learned to act like a boy presumably from her intense interaction with boys The sociological perspective of this issue is that masculine and feminine behavior is learned through outside influence The biological perspective is that traits such as aggression and competition in males and passiveness and maternal instinct in females comes naturally The argument is that hormones namely testosterone in males and estrogen in females control behavior It is known that these hormones control certain physical characteristics but not yet whether the same is true with behavior Testosterone has also been linked to the production of adrenaline supporting the biological argument While both arguments have their strengths neither has been proven The sociological as well as the
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