Femininity and masculinity in untradtional sexes?
Debate Rounds (3)
Pro states that "... scientists have proved that your masculine and feminine nature is due to a hormonal balance or imbalance, occurring during natal (sic) development, which is completely natural, just like genetic mutations".
I should begin by saying that if ever there were an exception that proved the rule, this would be it. Indeed, if we must look to mutations, imbalances and abnormalities in fetal development in order to explain effeminate men and masculine women I should be tempted to end the debate here and simply rest my case on Pro's initial comments. For the sake of argument, however, I will present the whole case.
Origin in Nature
Masculinity and femininity are traits evolved for the survival of the species. (1) Human infants take longer to mature once born and so need intensive parental investment from the mother, who is still the child's primary source of nourishment. This leads the mother to have less time for her own protection and for finding her own food. This is the natural origin of the family, and it depends greatly upon those traits commonly referred to as masculinity and femininity. The mother needs to be able to nurture both the baby and her mate, use her heightened social abilities to weave close relationship ties in order to keep the family together. This places the mother, the feminine as the center and the cohesive element of the family is fundamental in human child rearing. In the case of the father, the fact that he is not tied physically to the baby in the sense that he does not carry the child during pregnancy nor does he need to breast feed the infant, his evolved characteristics therefore were geared towards the protection of the household. Both caretaker and provider. This also meant he needed to be more aggressive, as he would have to stand up to any threat to his family and do this successfully. This aggressive, confrontational aspect led the man to be considered widely as the head of the household, its representative to the outside world.
To clarify, this does not mean that one is more important than the other, the feminine plays the central part within the house, providing cohesion and something to protect, and the masculine provides for and defends that cohesive unit and represents its interests to the rest of the tribe.
These evolved traits, as was pointed out by Pro, have a correlation with hormone levels both during fetal development and during the life of the individual. The exact relationship between these hormones and behaviors is still tenuous and subject of inquiry, but what is clear is that the difference in the hormones naturally produced by most healthy women and those produced by most healthy men are a main contributing factor to the differences in behavior. (2) Anomalies in this only serve to strengthen the main point, as by their very exceptional nature they serve to underscore the general case.
Masculinity and Femininity as Virtues
Society is not mere evolution, we give moral value, and not merely survival value, to those things that strengthen family and society. Femininity and masculinity, understood as the nurturing and relationship-fostering tendency in women and the protective and confrontational tendencies in men, are in this sense virtues.
As far as importance to the family goes. It is clear that the masculine and feminine traits in men and women respectively have natural origin. Mankind, however, as a social animal, has added to this natural tendency, cultural aspects which strengthen, underline and promote those tendencies in order to act as a safeguard to the good that this entails. Children, in their formative years, need therefore to come into contact with both male and female role-models in order to see for themselves what the ideal of femininity entails from interaction with the mother and what the ideal of masculinity is from interaction with the father. (3) The evolved protective and nurturing roles are still necessary for the family and children need to socialize in this way from early on. (4)
Femininity and masculinity are, doubtless, partially informed by culture. This does not mean that it does not have an important function in society. Femininity and masculinity are part of who we are: definitionally they are a part of us whether we fight against it or not. We should not attempt to form a genderless society, but rather to ask what we can contribute to society from where we are, not only as professionals, as students, as people with varying experience and interest, but as men and as women.
To summarize in three points:
1) The biological basis for masculinity and femininity as well as the case for its evolutionary advantage give credence to it being a necessary trait for humankind. In this case exceptions based on hormonal imbalance and other anomalies tend to make the case stronger, as they underline that this is not normally the case.
2) Femininity and masculinity are virtues because of the importance these traits have for the family and child rearing.
3) Femininity and masculinity are valuable for society, which needs both the cohesive element and the protective element in order to thrive.
(1) Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: p. 420 Role of Pair Bonding in Human Reproduction http://books.google.es...
(2) Psychology Today: Sex Hormone Secrets: http://books.google.es...
(3) gendermatters.au http://www.gendermatters.org.au...(low%20res).pdf
(4) Child Psychology: a Handbook of Contemporary Issues
Ronnie21 forfeited this round.
I not only answered Pro's only argument, but also put forward a consistent case for regarding femininity and masculinity as natural virtues.
Pro's forfeit counts as dropping each and every one of the arguments I put forth.
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