Nature and Nurture in Sexual Differentiation

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Nature refers to the genetics or hereditary influences, while Nurture is the environmental, culture and experience influences (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013). Therefore, the nature versus nurture debate is concerned with whether behaviour is determined mainly by the genetic inheritance or by the environment, culture or experience (Weiten, 2014). An amount of research has shown that genetics and experience jointly influence a person’s, intelligence, temperament, personality and vulnerability to many psychological disorders (Weiten, 2014). Therefore, Semenya’s genetic influences are hormone-based. Hormones play a critical role in sexual differentiation during prenatal development (Weiten, 2014).

The difference between male and female in hormone levels may contribute to gender differences in behaviour (Hines, 2010). Semenya was born a girl, she is a woman even her family stated so (South African History Online, 2017). However, it has been reported that she has naturally high testosterone which gives her a physical advantage (BBC News, 2018). Even research revealed that females who are highly exposed prenatally to abnormal high levels of testosterone are more likely to exhibit more male-typical behaviour than other females (Weiten, 2014). It would be understandable if she used drugs to develop the high levels of testosterone, but it is natural which can be her genetic gift she inherited.

Usually the high levels of testosterone in males and low levels of testosterone in females lead to the differentiation of male and female genitals’ (Weiten, 2014), hence the IAAF got sceptical when they found out that Semenya who is born biologically female showed results of high levels in testosterone, which made the IAAF assume that she is male but because biologically she is female they then identified her as ‘intersex’, which is a person with bodily or psychological characteristics of both man and woman (BBC News, 2018).

Semenya’s nurture could be her environmental experiences, such as her upbringing. Semenya was raised as a girl and identified as a woman. According to (SAHO, 2017), Semenya has long began her career in high school and was always winning until she travelled international to compete with other runners. Her family commented that Semenya played soccer at school and trained every day after school and often running from village to village.

The implications embedded for Semenya on the IAAF rule to take medication is that it may affect her natural and physical ability to run fast, as a result it is also a threat to her career as an athlete. It may also affect Semenya psychologically making her feel like less of a woman because she is sprinter with naturally gifted genetic.

Cite this paper

Nature and Nurture in Sexual Differentiation. (2021, Jan 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/nature-and-nurture-in-sexual-differentiation/

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