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Is our gender determined by nature or nurture?
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'Tabula Rasa' - Humans are a blank slate at birth

All humans are born as a blank slate, therefore all behaviors are the result of a learnt experience
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Tabula rasa is a latin phrase which roughly translates as 'blank slate'. Tabula rasa as a philosophy can be traced back to the works of Aristotle, however the phrase is most commonly associated with English philosopher John Locke, who was a proponent of the term in the 17th century. Within the context of gender as a social construct, the Tabula Rasa philosophy suggests biological sex holds a nugatory impact on gender roles.

The Argument

The blank slate argument states that socialization, not biology, govern psychological characteristics and behavioral differences that become evident during child development. Blank slate argues there are no naturally present psychological differences between men and women - only learned behaviors. This notion extends to gender roles within culture, arguing behavioral traits that could be stereo-typically ascribed as either masculine or feminine, are the result of gender specific socialization within a given society. The influence biological sex plays is inconsequential on the resulting gender role. individual ideas on appropriate gender behavior differ throughout a person's lifetime and depend heavily on the social influences - if a parent decides their child should behave more feminine, then this trait will most likely be developed.

Counter arguments

David Peter Reimer (1965–2004) was a Canadian man born male but reassigned and raised female following medical advice and intervention after his penis was accidentally destroyed during a botched circumcision in infancy. Between the ages of 9 and 11 years Reimer developed a realization of his biological gender and opted to transition back to a male by the time he was 15. After suffering years of severe depression, financial instability, and a troubled marriage, Reimer committed suicide. The Reimer case is a well quoted anecdote of the evidence against blank slate gender identity.


Human behavior and knowledge is gained exclusively as a result of experience, therefore gender specific behaviors are socially constructed.

Rejecting the premises

There are measured hormonal differences between genders which actively play a part in human behavior.


This page was last edited on Monday, 6 Aug 2018 at 23:56 UTC

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