Differences between men and women.

Topics: AIDS, Homosexuality, Gender Pages: 5 (1601 words) Published: March 23, 2006
What is the difference between males and females? We notice the different dressing styles, different roles in the workplace and how we spend our leisure time, how we wear our emotions, and also how differently we think. But a question arises. Are males and females really different in every aspect? The first question we ask when a baby is born is: "Is it a boy or a girl?" Though most people accept most of the socially prescribed roles for the gender they were born with, some struggle against what they see as rigid and arbitrary social norms. In this essay, I will describe and give my input on the roles of human sexuality and gender.

Most people think of sex and gender as one and the same when in fact they are not. Wood, Wood, and Boyd (2005) define sex as "a biological term, while gender is more commonly used to refer to the psychological and social variables associated with one's sex" (p. 410). In the biological approach, when defining the sociocultural characteristics of masculinity and femininity, cultures look into the behaviors each gender should act upon. Males should be the dominant figure. They should be strong, competitive, be able to stand their ground, confident, and independent. Women on the other had are expected to be the exact opposite. They should be dependent, caring, encouraging, emotional, and nurturing. As children approach the age of two or so, they start to realize the roles such as attitudes, interest, and behaviors, in which males and females are supposed to portray. This is referred to as gender typing. When understanding which roles are to be taken, then they can start their development.

In the psychoanalytic theory, Freud asserts that children's thoughts about gender occur out of a clash relating to their feelings about their parents. Generally, they would like to tie a bond between the opposite-sex parent but end up doing so with the same-sex parent in order to settle this clash, taking on that's parent's gender-related behavior and ideas. "At the same time, they defer their love for the opposite-sex parent in the hope that someday they will be able to achieve a sexual relationship with a partner who is similar to him or her" (Wood et. al., 2005, p. 411).

I can agree with Freud's psychoanalytic theory to a certain extent. What would the opposite-sex parent do in a family with no boys or no girls? Would he/she take over some traits that the same-sex parent would give to the children? My mother and father had four boys including myself. Being in the situation my mother was in considering there were no girls, she felt a need to rub off some of her traits to us boys. While my father taught us the game of baseball and how to mow the lawn, my mother taught us our table manners and to how to do the laundry. We shared a bond to both of our parents equally. But overall, we all feel the same way in which we want our future wives to be close to, if not exactly like our mother.

In the social learning theory, children look for role models to follow, where they imitate that person and want to be like him/her. But say if a boy started doing something that is out of his gender role, such as trying on his mother's high heels, he will be informed by his father that it is not appropriate for him to do such a thing. Psychologists say that yes imitating and reinforcing may play a part in the gender role development, but it does not offer a complete clarification of this occurrence.

Lawrence Kohlberg's cognitive developmental theory "suggests that an understanding if gender is a prerequisite to gender role development" (1966; Kohlberg & Ullian, 1974, p. 412). This theory explains that children go through three stages that are necessary to developing the concept of gender. The first stage happens when the child is around the ages of two and three, which is gender identity, or the sense of being male or female. The next stage occurs at four and five, which is gender stability, the understanding that boys...
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