In psychological and sociological circles, gender identity is the term used to denote the gender with which a particular person identifies. Gender affects identity in a very significant way, beginning at conception with the allocation of chromosomes, but moving further into cultural conditioning where people are often socialized in a certain way based on their gender. Manners and behaviors are assigned to persons depending on their gender. In America, for instance, males are socialized to play sports and engage in warrior-like games. They are bought baseballs, footballs, and monster toy trucks, and are expected to play catch and tackle with their fathers in the backyard.
The role of nature in determining gender cannot be ruled out, as it is nature that determines the physical features with which persons are born. It is also nature which determines the chromosome pairs people possess, and these are instrumental in the formation of the physical features that people assign to different genders. Of course, it does become complicated sometimes when some persons are born with chromosomes that belie the genitalia and other physical features that they possess. Sometimes, for instance, persons with XY chromosomes are found having female-looking genitalia. It is here that one must consider the extent to which these particular factors shape behavior. While nature determines the physical factors, it is society that often directs the behaviors of individuals by contrasting acceptable behaviors for males versus that of their female counterparts.
Cultures differ in their treatments of boys and girls. As mentioned before, the American culture often offers sport and warrior goods to boys while giving girls dolls and make-up kits. Other cultures also demonstrate belief in certain stereotypes based on gender. Islamic nations endorse dominant natures in men, assigning to them the ability to make decisions, while women are generally stripped of these privileges and socialized into subordination. A significant difference can be found in the Japanese culture, which has demonstrated a more egalitarian treatment of men and women.
I personally consider young males to be generally more inclined to physically rigorous activity. I believe we are more likely to play formal games with strict rules and definite outcomes. Some women have in my experience tended to appreciate physical pursuits, but they usually have not been able to excel as much as men have at the same activities. Because of my interest in sports and assertive personality, I identify best with the male gender; and since I have all the physical features attributed to men, the male gender is precisely the one society expects me to identify with. I do fit well with most of the expectations, as I prefer to have straight and unambiguous answers to questions without extensive qualitative analysis. I read in a journal that “65% of boy’s games are formal games, while only 35% of games played by girls have rules”. I definitely fit the male category as described here, since the nebulousness associated with rule-less games would frustrate me.
I do often feel obligated to express myself as a “masculine” individual by displaying what might be considered “macho” behaviors. Public crying is definitely frowned upon, and I would be embarrassed to do it. I also am very happy to actually be heterosexual, as I am sure it would be difficult to be otherwise in the society in which I live. So, while I would not say that I feel pressured to exhibit heterosexual traits (because I do anyway), it would be very uncomfortable if I were inclined to behave in another way.
I think that my gender-identity influences derive from both nature and society. Although I do believe I was socialized in certain areas, such as sports and (sexual) inclination toward girls, I was always comfortable doing these things that were required. I caught on quickly while playing physical games with my father and male friends, and I naturally find the female sex attractive. Regarding the influence of my gender identity on my current state: although enrolment in college is something that women are doing more and more, I believe that my college registration stems to some degree from a (possibly stereotypical) masculine inclination to be self sufficient and financially successful in the future. It perhaps has something to do with a drive for dominance and power, which are usually considered masculine traits. I certainly would prefer not to be dominated for the rest of my life.
Murad, Shaykh Abdul-Hakim. “Boys Will be Boys.” Women and Islam. The Modern Religion. http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/boyswillbeboys.html
Pardo, Tamara. Treatment and Management of Intersexuals: A Behavioral Science Approach. Department of Human Development. Cornell University. http://www.trans- academics.org/TPardo.pdf
Sugihara, Yoko & Emiko Katsurada. “Gender Role Development in Japanese Culture: Diminishing Gender Role Differences in a Contemporary Society.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. November, 2002: 443-452.