Nature vs. Nurture; The Great Debate by: Dane Sanderson

Essay by grapehouseHigh School, 10th grade April 2008

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One of the most controversial debates of modern society is the idea that our natures and how we are nurtured are in conflict with each other to determine what defines who we are. When one attempts to define sex and gender, he/she often finds him/herself stumped as to what the definitions are. More so, one is puzzled by where they came from. How do nature and nurture influence the definitions of sex and gender? To understand how nature and nurture affect these definitions, we must first know what they are. Sex is biological while gender is socially constructed. Genes produce sex. It exists in itself, and is indifferent to what humans think of it. Gender is the meanings that society assigns to sex. Richard Muscatel wrote the words, “Nature makes the boy toward, nurture sees him forward.“ Even though nature plays a role in defining sex and gender, nurture plays the greater part in helping society define the two terms.

Definitions come from that which is learned, not that which is part of our genetic system. John Locke believed that all people were born with a blank slate (a tabula rasa.) Him and other Empiricists thought that experiences were written into the mind and that every aspect of human behavior is acquired from the environment that surrounds them. Take for example the story which Susan Baxter tells in her article The Last Word on Gender Differences, of the boy who was castrated at birth and raised as a girl.

Amazingly, this boy had an identical twin brother, which made it possible to compare two genetically identical individuals raised as a boy and a girl.

The boy was clearly raised as a girl and he grew up thinking of himself as a girl. He was not born as a female and...