Nature VS Nurture

I was having a great discussion the other night about the effects of genetics and culture on peoples behaviors, specifically in regards to race. Boyfriend made a series of fantastic points, and so I didn’t much want to move the conversation in to a different direction, but it got me thinking a lot about gender and culture.

This article is a great little history of gendered clothing, and points out that it was actually more recent than I had thought that children were so fiercely gendered from birth. This, along with findings like the famous “Baby X” experiments (side note: I cannot find a single article or page on the internet that simply describes the study or one about it’s main designer, Dr. Phyllis Katz. This is strange.) indicate further to me that you can never truly know what is nature and what is nurture because we are being socialized from our very first moments on earth. Heck, people talk to a woman’s pregnant belly differently if they know the gender of the child forming inside (side note 2: I think talking to pregnant bellies is creepy.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about socialized gender expectations lately, and how/when it is appropriate to follow them and how/when it is destructive. The goal of feminism, for me, is to create a world in which gender is purely a form of expression and not a measure of judgment. Ideally the world would function in a way that empathy, aggression, knitting, cooking, fixing cars, and playing sports would all be held in the same esteem. Not that all of a sudden everything would be considered a positive trait, though. Because sometimes it’s inappropriate to be aggressive or to cry.

Hm. This post is getting sort of muddled. I shouldn’t blog before coffee. I just believe in a world where people and their bodies are not judged by what we put on them but by what they accomplish.

This song is my favorite one for today:



About Charlotte

In an attempt to figure it all out, I've broken the world up in to tiny pieces and am conquering them one at a time.
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2 Responses to Nature VS Nurture

  1. alexthesane says:

    I’ve heard of the Baby X “experiment”, I was under the impression that it was a thought experiment and never carried out though…

    I agree that we put way too many value judgments on other people’s gender and perceived gender behavior.

    • Charlotte says:

      I think that is my problem finding info about it online. There was an actual experiment done, I watched a video of it in an Anthropology class, where they used one baby dressed in white and had adults interact with it. They told the adults one of three things, “This is Johnny”, “This is Sally”, or “This is Baby X.” The adults would coddle the baby they thought was “Sally” and offer it dolls, they would not touch the baby named “Johnny” and would offer it footballs and cars, and they rarely interacted with the “Baby X.”

      Of course, it was the same baby every time.

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