Is Sexuality a Biological or Cultural Process

The aim of this essay, is to try and establish if sexuality, is an innate biological process that takes place as a result of our genetic make-up or wether sexuality is a result of our cultural back ground and the environment in which we are raised. These two differing theories are known as the nature/nurture debate, nature representing the biological theory for our sexuality and nurture representing environmental influences for our behaviour. The first part of the essay, will focus on the biological side of our sexuality and will put forward theories by Barnard, Hamer and Young, who will argue the point, that our sexuality is established at the foetal stage of our development. It is at this early stage of life, that genes carry specific information about who we are. A gene is a unit of hereditary that our sexuality is established through and the genes determine the biological characteristics of an individual, both physically and mentally. The essay will then give further evidence that our sexuality is biologically driven, by describing the changes our bodies undergo when we reach puberty, changes that are triggered by hormonal transitions. Hormones are chemical messengers, they send massages from glands around the body, which triggers a response in other parts of our anatomy. The essay will give evidence that, hormones are a biological indicator that we are biologically driven towards our sexuality.

The second part of the essay will argue that, sexuality is greatly influenced by environmental factors, environmental factors such as rearing styles and differing cultural practises. It will look at different societies and the way in which they perceive sexuality and argue that sexuality is learned through a combination of expected social norms and observational learning, giving evidence from Bandura, Mead and Money along the way. Finally the essay will look at the evidence that has been put forward and sum up what has been debated, it will then draw a conclusion.

From the point of conception, human beings are made up of 46 chromosomes, 23 male and 23 female. After insemination, paternal and maternal chromosomes fuse, this fusion determines the sex of the child. The amalgamation of two X chromosomes creates a female child, while the combination of X and Y chromosomes, leads to the development of a male offspring. Each chromosome contains thousands genes and each gene contains specific information about how part of the body will be formed. Genes are responsible for almost every aspect of the human body, from hair colour to the development of our organs, organs like the brain and it is within the brain were the biggest changes take place when our bodies under go their sexual metamorphous, during sexual maturation.

When we reach sexual maturity, we have our first insight into our sexuality, an insight which is genetically programmed into our consciousness through our DNA, this theory is supported by the work of hamer et al ( 1993) who conducted a study of male sexual orientation. Hamer examined 40 pairs of gay brothers. He examined 22 genetic markers distributed across the X chromosome in order to see if brothers concordant for homosexuality, were also concordant for the markers. He found that the chromosomal region of xq28, at the tip of the long arm of the X chromosome, 33 of the 40 pairs of brothers shared all the markers. This was statistically different from the expected rate (20 out of 40) suggesting that the gene influencing male sexual orientation, lies within that chromosomal region In this study, Hamer along with many other fellow geneticists, is claiming that he has found the gene which dictates our sexual orientation, therefore genes are a precursor to our sexuality and our sexuality is decided at an anatomical level in the womb.

Whilst in the womb, it seems that our sexuality is being pre programmed by our genes but there are other biological developments taking place, namely the formation of our hormones, hormones which will lie dormant until the onset of puberty. The hypothalamus an important co-ordinating centre in the brain, signals the onset of puberty. The hypothalamus stimulates a gland just below it, the pituitary, to secrete hormones (chemical messengers carried in the blood). These are carried to other hormonal secreting glands. In their turn these release