Psychology of Gender in Psychological Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2477 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Today, the theory that is heavily touted as correct is the Interactional Model, which says that it is neither nature (biological control) nor nurture (social models and the environment) which are solely responsible for anything having to do with our inherent identity, but each of them working together to develop a person (Crooks, & Baur, 2008). It is next to impossible to say that biology is solely responsible for a person's gender because so many aspects of our development in the womb are still unknown, and those effects are virtually impossible to test, or unethical to test. We also cannot say that environment and child rearing techniques are the root cause, because, as evidenced by David Reimer and other intersexed children, those outcomes have been directly challenged.

As far as the fact that many psychologists felt that it was necessary for children to have anatomically correct genitalia in order to form a healthy gender identity, Berenbaum ascertains that surgery was really performed to quell the anxiety of the parents, and that children could have decided if surgery were necessary when they were more comfortable with their gender. Some intersexed adults that Colapinto interviewed for his book maintain that they are okay with being ambiguous, and don't feel the need to identify with male or female. This idea would lend to the thought that treatments and therapies should change, and children should be able to make up their minds about what kind of decision is to be made, if any, at the very least by adolescence.

He, She…It?

What makes a man and what makes a woman? This is an essential question to those studying sex and sex differentiation. To researchers, it is a complicated question begging for an answer that it doesn't have. In an article by Zucker, he summarizes several case studies of intersexed children and adolescents, methodically reporting each case of who was born what way, how did they fair as time went on, and did they still identify with the gender chosen for them. Zucker writes that usually, an identified male is attracted to females, and an identified female is attracted to males, and does the biological temperament have anything to do with their gender? Such as activity level, their friends, etc.

Even Weiten has a section entitled "understanding gender differences," which outlines small, but genuine differences in males from females in the areas of behavior, cognitive traits, and social behaviors. However, even Weiten follows it up with a blurb about how the average male is only being compared to the average female, and in reality, we are all unique and individual. Weiten has better luck explaining the biological differences between the sexes, which can at least be measured and quantified in areas of hormones and brain organization.

Even these basic understandings of what makes each sex and gender different, researchers are focusing on America and on other developed countries. In America, certain behaviors fit into a "sex role," which essentially means that there are clear "characteristics, behaviors, and skills that are defined within a specific culture as being either masculine or feminine." (Oltmanns, & Emery, 2010). For developed countries like America, Australia and England, if a man were to weep openly at a very female style movie, most people would consider that a very feminine thing to do (an extreme stereotype, but one that makes an example). Other cultures that are not highly developed have a very different way of distinguishing males and females. For example, there are two societies in New Guinea where both sexes are "extremely aggressive, insensitive, uncooperative and non-nurturing," traits that would seem extremely masculine in America (Crooks, & Baur, 2008). In another society discussed by Crooks and Baur, both sexes display "gentleness, sensitivity, cooperation, nurturing, and nonaggressive behaviors." Even in Europe where it is popular for men to kiss on the cheek as a greeting might be a little too much for the typical American man to handle. Although cultures may have set expectations of what makes a man masculine, and what makes a woman feminine, that doesn't necessarily solidify what gender identity means to each person. It just depends.

Conclusion

In 2002, Brian Reimer committed suicide. Two years later, after finding out his wife wanted a trial separation, David Reimer also committed suicide. Colapinto's book ends on a high note, with both brothers married and happy, any past transgressions, and suicidal pleas for help long forgotten. But, not even four years after Colapinto's book was published, David decided to end his life. If anything, this sad loss of life should be a reminder to doctor's and psychologists who continue to unravel the brain's mysteries: you can never be 100% sure of anything.

Although, now psychologists know so much more than they did in the 1960s, there is a world of information that has yet to be discovered concerning the human body. At the very least, children and adolescents who have sexual developed disorders should not feel ostracized by society, and doctor's should step back and take an unbiased look at each case, letting the children decide for themselves what they want. After all, only a person knows what they feel. David taught us that much.

Bibliography

Berenbaum, S.A. (2006). Psychological Outcome in Children With Disorders of Sex Development: Implications for Treatment and Understanding Typical Development. Annual Review of Sex Research, 171. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Colapinto, J. (2000). As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2008). Our Sexuality 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Oltmanns, T.F., & Emery, R.E. (2010). Abnormal Psychology 6th ed. International. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Weiten, W. (2005). Psychology: Themes & Variations 6th ed. Briefer Version. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Zucker,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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