Freedom From Gender Roles

By: Justin Martin
Published on October 30, 2011
Last Updated on Thursday, July 09, 2015 at 11:38 PM
Total Updates: 4

In Deborah Blum's "The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over", she believes that biology plays a larger role then what is commonly believed in gender development. The common belief is that gender roles are largely controlled by society - "Women should cook and clean and men should work hard and be the breadwinner" kind of mentality. Blum challenges that and suggests that biology plays a bigger role in helping us become who we are.

She references various studies done on testosterone levels. She talks about how Robert Goy, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, first documented that:

Young male monkeys play much more roughly than young females. Goy went on to show that if you manipulate testosterone level - raising it in females, damping it down in males - you can reverse those effects, creating sweet little monkeys and rowdy young females." (577)

She states that testosterone plays a large role in why men display larger amounts "rowdy play, sex drive, competitiveness, and an in-your-face attitude (578).

There are some genetic traits that are difficult to change no matter the lifestyle. On the other hand, society is probably the largest factor in making us who we are. In the end, it is important to realize that your hereditary genes and society both play important roles in helping us become who we are.

As a species that cares about one another and how we develop into happy, healthy adults, we need to keep on studying how society influences our growth. When people grow up to be criminals or display uncontrollable aggression, the reasoning behind what made these people turn out this way needs to be studied. Having scientific evidence allows us to make better informed decisions when raising our kids.

Most people would agree that they would want to give their children the best opportunity to have a happy, healthy, rich-fulfilling life. This is heavily relied upon how the children are raised. There is a divide on whether or not to promote gender roles while raising kids. Certain people believe that gender roles are important and have their benefits. Others disagree and believe that kids should be treated as individuals and gender should be ignored. When gender is disregarded, it makes things equal for everyone, but issues can arise. Unavoidably, men and women will have different challenges to face.

Some features that make men and women different, allows one of us to be better suited then the other for certain things. A lot of the time men and women will have certain characteristics that give them an advantage in certain situations. For example, men might be better equipped to do more physical labor, but women might be better suited to teach children. Through genetics, men typically will have larger muscles making them better suited for physical labor. While women typically are more caring and less intimidating then men who tend to be more aggressive. These generalizations predispose us to gender roles.

Blum acknowledges that both biology and society both play important roles in gender development. She suggests in her conclusive statement, "It is only through exploring and understanding what makes us different that we can begin to understand what binds us together" (579). She emphasizes how important it is to keep asking questions.

Whenever we ask questions like "Why do women live longer?" or "Why do men have the tendency to be more aggressive?", the search for these answers can reveal how we are actually not as different as we think. Gender and sexuality should not make us who we are. Like Kevin Jennings said in "American Dreams":

Real freedom will be ours when the people around us - and when we ourselves - accept that we, too, are "real" Americans, and that we shouldn't have to change to meet anyone else's standards. (Jennings 584)

Maasik, Sonia and Solomon, Jack. Signs of Life IN THE USA, Sixth Edition
        Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.