Our Understanding of Sexuality and Family Formation

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Our Understanding of Sexuality and Family Formation The investigations in the determinants of gender and sexuality are ongoing; some are biologically orientated while others believe that they are socially constructed. This essay will discuss the idea that our understanding of sexuality and gender is linked to our understanding of family formations. It will highlight the diversities and the relationships of sexuality, gender and the family. It will also draw attention to the theory of how gender is biologically determined and fixed and the family has no influence on gender, but on the other hand the belief that gender is socially constructed, fluid and subject to change and we have to learn gender through processes such as the family. Sexuality will also be addressed and how heterosexuality and the need for a family shaped and still shape societies norms about sexual preference. Gender is defined in the Collins English Dictionary (2003) as ‘state of being male or female’. Sociologists would argue that it is not so easily defined and that the origins of gender are constantly being investigated. Biological determinists attach biological characteristics to gender differences (Bilton et al, 2002: 132; Giddens 1998: 91). They have looked at evidence from animals, measuring hormonal make-up and anatomical differences (which defines the sex) as the reason for differences between masculinity and femininity (Giddens, 1998: 91). Bilton et al (2002) identifies that biological ‘determinists highlight similarities in male behaviour across different environments. They argue that male traits (whether a preference for competitive sport,... ... middle of paper ... ... in the traditional sense of the family although it has been identified that many types of sexualities exist. Family is not the only factor to influence sexuality and gender and family formations are themselves greatly shaped by society and the norms and values of the current time. This essay has identified the biological determinants, social and cultural determinants and psychoanalytical approaches to gender development and sexuality. It has shown that neither is exclusive and all have valuable points. REFERENCES Bilton, T et al (2002), Introductory Sociology 4th ed, Palgrave Macmillan, New York Giddens, A (1998), Sociology 3rd ed, Polity Press, Cambridge Oakley, A (1972), Sex, Gender and Society, Temple Smith, London Muncie, J et al (1995), Understanding the Family, Oxford University, London
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