Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nature and Nurture as one

Carla Ruiz
Professor Dinsmore
English 114B
27 April 2012
Nature and Nurture as one
            Nature versus Nurture has been an issue that many debate about. With the book ‘As Nature Made Him’ it was shown that even with as much of nurture that was giving, the nature part of ‘David’ was taking over. ‘David’ was born a healthy baby born along with his identical twin brother. After having some trouble urinating they both were taken for a routine circumcision procedure. ‘David’ was the first one up, and unfortunately his penis was completely burned off. Janet and Ron, ‘David’s’ parents, were presented with a dilemma, either raise their boy as a boy and have him be abnormal since he wouldn’t have a functioning penis, or be nurtured and brought up as a girl. Nature and Nurture seems to be a topic that people take on separately, however it seems as if they go hand in hand. Nature, of course, plays a role in ones life but we wouldn’t be the people we are now if it wasn’t for the nurture we receive even before birth.
            According to the dictionary, nature has a definition of ‘the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing; while nurture has the definition of ‘to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development.’ Instead of looking at these two definitions as two different meanings, we should look at them as one. Dr. Money, being a pioneer, believed that it was about nurture and not nature. David’s parents were hoping that everything this man was promising them would become reality, that because of their little boys incident he could be raised as a normal girl. However, little did they know that ‘David’ was basically an experiment since he had been born as a healthy baby male. Dr. Money suggested many things to influence his new gender identity. Those things were being dressed as a girl, acting like a girl, and being around things that only girls would be around. However, no matter how much ‘David’ and his parents tried, somewhere in him he knew he wasn’t in the correct body.
There were actually some theories of why doctors thought the experiment didn’t work with ‘David.’ One of those main reasons was because of his identical twin brother, Brian. Brian was someone that ‘David’ was extremely close to since he was someone that was familiar to him. It is to be said that because of his twin brother, ‘David’ wasn’t able to commit to the ideas of being a female because he saw so much of himself in Brian. Another reason according to the documentary called ‘Dr. Money and The Boy With No Penis’ would have been due to the constant bullying ‘David’ received throughout his school years. ‘David’ would get made fun of, called a cavewomen, and would constantly be reminded that she wasn’t a normal type of girl. Some believe that the reason for ‘David’s’ experiment failure was because of these negative comments towards her, however his very own nature was informing him that he wasn’t who everyone expected him to be, no matter how much nurture was given to him.
Also, in the book ‘As Nature Made Him’, John Colapinto mentions studies that were done with girls born with an excess amount of testosterone compared to other girls. The research available states how the girls with the excess testosterone were born with masculinized genitals and in some cases there was a partially fused labia. Girls born with this way, their nature grew up acting like boys, a kind of tomboy traits. So instead of these girls growing up and playing with dolls and make up, they played with boy toys and dressed in a male type of clothing. Just like in the case of ‘David’ nature played a bigger role than just being nurtured into a different gender identity.
            In the society we live in today, we see certain gender roles that are appropriate for a male and a female. According to an article titled, “The differences between men and women” it states how “society teaches little girls to be feminine and little boys to be masculine; society that tells women to respond to babies and men to respond to sports and warfare.” I believe this to be completely true because even when one enters kindergarten, you see the little girls with their dolls and dresses, while when you see little boys you see them playing rough and playing with their toy cars. Plus, while children watch television they see the differences between a male and female. For example, in the show ‘Phineas and Ferb’ you see the difference between the males and females. Candace and Isabella, two girls in the show, are always seen in a skirt and shirt or in a dress. Candace is seen as an older sister of Phineas and Ferb. She is always on her phone either gossiping or talking about the boy she likes. She is constantly worried about the way she looks. Isabella is a girl that is friends with Phineas and Ferb, is part of the girl scouts and always has a bow in her hair. She is always imagining Phineas declaring that he likes her as much as she does. She is seen as a girl who does anything to be around the boy who she likes. Linda, Phineas and Ferbs mother also portrays the feminine role. She is always seen either cooking or shopping for things that are needed around the house. Plus, in the end of the day she always has a snack for the kids. The males however, are in regular male attire, shorts/pants and a shirt. Phineas and Ferb are always coming up with new inventions that the girls end up helping with instead of making up their own ideas. The boys’ father, Lawrence, is either reading the newspaper or is clueless of what is really going on around him. Plus, when he leaves to go off and work, he leaves Linda, his wife, in charge of the kids and home. Children spend countless hours in front of a television throughout a day, it is bound to have some sort of influence on what they perceive as a male and female trait.
Even though some may not realize it or want to admit it, our identity is basically set as soon as the sex of a child is determined. We all know that when we see a baby anywhere and they are wearing pink then it’s a girl and if they are wearing blue then it’s a boy. Plus depending on the sex of the baby, it will determine the certain objects located in their room. I just recently went to a baby shower for one of my sister in law relatives. All the decoration that was located in the hall had to do with the sex of the baby, which was a girl. The decorations were all pink and all the presents located on the tables seemed to be pink as well, sometimes yellow. When the opening of the presents occurred it seemed that everything they were receiving was pink. Pink blankets, pink shirts, pink shorts, princess clothing, and etc. They also received little bows and of course the needed essentials for caring for a newborn. Throughout the whole opening of the presents you never saw a toy car, or any color like blue or green. Throughout the whole baby shower, the soon to be parents were discussing the future of their baby girl. They stated, “ we want her to start off taking classes in ballet, then to go into gymnastics where then she would join a cheerleading squad just like her mother.” When someone asked what if she wants to join a sport like basketball, they automatically said, “No, that’s not something for a girl to be involved in.” I couldn’t help but think what is an appropriate thing for a girl to be involved in. However, in these times, one becomes greatly influenced by what we see and hear from others. When you think of a girl involved in sports like basketball you automatically assume she is a tomboy or a lesbian. Also, if you a boy that is on the cheer team rather than involved in football then he’s gay. Our outlook towards society becomes judgmental when it’s something that isn’t “normal” to see.                                                                                                                                           
Nature and Nurture are the reasons to why we are who we are today. Our nature, what we are born as, is what starts us up when looking at our identity and behavior. However, our environment, like the television and the people around us, affect us in how we view our identity.
When we take a closer look at our identity, we must look at our nature and nurture together and not separately like most do.

Work Cited
“Candace Disconnected.” Phineas and Ferb. Disney Channel. 24 April 2012. Television.
“The Differences Between Men and Women.” National Review 17 May 2004: 15. General
     OneFile. Web. 18 Apr. 2012
Colapinto, John “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” New York:
     Harper Collins, 2000. Print.
Moreno, Liliana. Personal interview. 21 April 2012.
“Nature” “Nurture” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2012. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Essay proposal

For this upcoming essay I’ve decided to write about the nature versus nurture issue. In ‘As Nature Made Him’ it was believed that even though ‘David’ was born a healthy male, with enough nurture he was going to be able to live life as a girl due to a failed circumcision. I will explain that even though medicine has advanced so much over years, ones gender is influenced by ones nature and nurture. 
First I will have to state what nature and nurture really are and if they even do go hand in hand. I will show how Dr. Money and David’s parents thought that with enough social factors could have influenced his gender identity. I will also state some theories of why it could have failed as well.
Second I will discuss David’s story and how for him no matter the amount of nurture that was giving to him, he was still convinced he was in the wrong body. I will use examples of thanks to our society we see appropriate for a male and female role.
Next I will show how nurture shapes our gender role and identity. I will show how even before we are born, we already have certain things that we can and cant due because of our gender and what society defines as right.
In my conclusion I will state how nature may play a role in ones life but we wouldn’t be who we are if it wasn’t for the nurture side. This nurture side explains why male and female do certain things that the other sex can’t because of our society. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

As Nature Made Him

After reading “As Nature Made Him” by John Colapinto, I couldn’t believe everything Dr. Money had done to the twins. Even though his parents just wanted a better future for his son, the decision seemed to cause more conflict. I find it horrible to see how Dr. Money was so obsessed with his theories and his fame that he forced “Brenda” in a wicked way. The Reimers had to live with their son having to be a girl because of an unsuccessful circumcision.
“Brenda’s” parents, Ron and Janet, felt it necessary to go through the surgery because they didn’t want their little boy to have an unusual life. Because they didn’t want this, they agreed with whatever Dr. Money had to say. Like Mrs. Reimer said, “I looked up to him like a god. I accepted whatever he said.” They were sold when they heard that their “girl” was going to be able to have all the characteristics of a girl, except being able to be a mother. They were so preoccupied with what others would say if they didn’t go through the operation, not to mention what the life of his would be like. However, even “Brenda” will question her own sex and see that she doesn’t fit in, and she will know that she isn’t who she thinks she is, she will just answer what people would want to hear. The parents may have done this from the good side of their heart, however, they made “Brenda” question herself everyday, and she knew she wasn’t in the right body.
This book tries to see about the theory if changing the gender is possible after birth. Gender roles were used throughout the book with girls playing house and playing with dolls and boys playing rough and dirty. “Brenda’s” mother would even try to put her in a dress at the twins second birthday and she ripped it and tried to take it off. All along “Brenda” knew she wasn’t in the right body and she wanted to be a boy. However, Dr. Money, always tried convincing the Reimers that everything he did was correct,  he just wanted his fame and theory to be looked upon by many others, no matter the cost.  


The book, “The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi was a very interesting thing when it came to spaces. Depending on where one was, gave one an outlook of how to behave and act. In Iran, the women weren’t allowed to show their skin nor wear any type of makeup. Their outfit consisted of black large garments. Plus all women were to have a headscarf in public. Men, on the other hand, had to wear suits. Women in the west were completely different. Marjane saw this difference when she saw that women didn’t have to worry about expressing themselves with clothing, hair, and make up. Not to mention all the abundances of things that were available like scented detergent and pasta.
However the spaces in Iran and west were completely different. In Iran, in public, women and men weren’t allowed to make direct contact unless married or engaged. Women weren’t allowed in anything revealing. Plus, if the headscarves weren’t placed correctly problems would occur. Because of this space, Marjane and the people around her had to satisfy those that were enforcing the laws. However, when Marjane and her family were at home, in their private place, they were able to be themselves. They threw parties, but with certain precautions. Black blinds were installed to keep the neighbors from seeing and calling the police. Plus those who were to talk against those in charge and those making the laws were arrested.
When Marjane moved away from her family, her space was completely changed. She went from a place where her actions were influenced by those surrounding her, her family, to her having to make up her own ways. She cut her hair, changed her friends, and her ideas of what was right from wrong. Things where she was now were different from her home in Iran. Here people were allowed to say what they wished about their government and nothing would happen to them, unlike in Iran.
In the end, Marjane realized that though their were many things good in where she was, she couldn’t forget about her home, culture, and her parents. Though Iran was a very violate place to live in, she was able to control what she did depending on which space she was in.