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Is our gender determined by nature or nurture? Show more Show less

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, so the saying goes. But are the behavioural differences between men and women the result of social and cultural conventions? Or are our gender-specific behaviours driven by biological factors?

Gender is a social construct Show more Show less

This position holds that gender roles are are created exclusively through societal and cultural influences
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Non-binary genders exist in all cultures

The existence of more than two distinct genders among various cultures is an argument for their social construction
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Globally, non-binary gender roles exist across all habitable continents with evidence dating back to Ancient Egypt. Discovered pottery list three human genders: tai (male), sht ("sekhet") and hmt (female), estimated to have existed approxmately 2000–1800 BCE.

The Argument

This argument draws on the existence of cultures whereby gender roles are dissimilar to the traditional binary model held in western society, and uses the existence of such societies as valid proof of the role culture plays in constructing gender. Not all cultures have strictly defined gender roles, and various cultures have more than two specific recognized genders. The Dineh culture of the Southwestern US acknowledge four genders: feminine woman, masculine woman, feminine man, and masculine man. The term "third gender" has also been used to describe hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have gained legal identity, fa'afafine of Polynesia, and sworn virgins of the Balkans.

Counter arguments

There is very little variation of gender roles among cultures internationally, suggesting there is an innate definition of gender role characteristics. Gender roles among most cultures follow variations of a traditional masculine gender, and a feminine gender. Such universal similarities suggest gender has strong ties to biological sex.



Gender roles among differing cultures are not universal, therefore gender roles are socially constructed, not biologically constructed.

Rejecting the premises

Similarities among cultures would suggest genders roles are not entirely socially constructed.


Further Reading


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    This page was last edited on Thursday, 13 Feb 2020 at 09:11 UTC