Good paper, but there is a good amount of evidence that gender is not just a social construct, but there is a biological basis for it.

I've read various things about it, and it just seems that the stereotypes that have evolved didn't just arise from thin air, but have come out of differences between the male and the female that are just there. I've read of communes where they treated the children all the same, no gender-specific behaviors pushed, no talk of what the girls shouldn't do because only boys did, and so on. Guess what? All that effort, and they still found the children doing it on their own, the boys mostly playing in one manner, the girls in another.

For an strong example to demonstrate the innate gender identity that a person holds, examine the case of David Reimer.

Sure, there are a ton of purely social and cultural things still around. But the two are different in many ways, and that can't be avoided. I don't think everyone will fit into one category or another, because there's always variety in nature, and occasionally there wil be people who break the rules. But only occasionally.

I've read of communes where they treated children all the same, no gender-specific behaviors pushed..."

It occurs to me that while a commune such as this may not have overtly encouraged gender-specific behaviors, the adults who live there were raised in a society that does have established gender roles.

This is to say that maybe these roles were too deeply ingrained to eradicate within one generation.

Perhaps the influence was subtle enough that these adults didn't realize their own biases.

Whether these biases are cultural or genetic is beyond our current scientific understanding, methinks, as we still know very little about how the brain works in general, or how physical differences influence character, behaviour, interests, and abilities of men versus those of women.

It seems more useful and less limiting to think of gender roles as merely products of society, and to focus not on generalizations but on the potential of the individual to do whatever he or she is capable of.

The individual is not a statistic.

The responses to this w/u missed the point of the discussion of gender; i.e. gender is defined as those aspects of sexual identity which are socially determined. When we discover that a sexually differentiated behavior is biologically determined, then it means that it is part of a person's sex, but it does not mean that there is no such thing as socially-determined gender.

No one is disputing that the sexes are distinct biologically, but sociologists have shown that many behaviors and roles we associate with sex vary from culture to culture, and they are therefore culturally determined. Furthermore, statements like, "Boys are better at math," may be biologically true on a general basis, but it does not follow that every boy is automatically better than every girl at math. Gender also places value on the sex differences, which biology does not, obviously. To continue the math example, it may be true that biology has given the male brain an advantage in mathematical and spatial intelligence, but the value we place on male forms of thinking over female forms of thinking is societal, and caught up with gender. Everyone is encouraging girls to excel in math and science, but very few people seem to be concerned that boys aren't so interested in foreign languages or literature. When studying the sexual division of labor, Mead found that although which tasks are allocated to which sex varies from culture to culture, the constant is that tasks allocated to men are viewed as more important and more crucial to the functioning of the community. In a culture in which the men do the fishing, for example, it is esteemed as a difficult and essential skill, but where women are the fishers, it's a menial and boring task.

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