Gender Norms

Updated: Feb 28

What are gender norms?

A gender norm, also known as a sex role, is a social role encompassing a range of behaviors and attitudes that are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for a person based on that person's biological or perceived sex.

Sadly, when someone faces this prejudice an assumption is made depending only on how you look by the discriminatory person who is making that assumption.

Masculine Gender Norms

When someone judges you to be a male based on your appearance or behavior seeming masculine.

When someone judges that you are masculine, a male, or “the man in the relationship” they may say or assume that:

  • You are the “breadwinner” or moneymaker of a relationship

  • You only wear “masculine” clothing (shorts, pants, etc)

  • You are strong-willed

  • You are expected to be dominant in your relationship

  • You are expected to not express emotions

Feminine Gender Norms

When someone judges you to be a female based on your appearance or behavior seeming feminine.

When someone judges that you are feminine, a female, or “the girl in the relationship” they may say or assume that:

  • You stay at home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids

  • You are submissive and fully obedient to your spouse

  • You are promiscuous or deserving of mistreatment if you let someone advance on you too quickly

  • You only wear “feminine” clothing (dresses, skirts, etc)

  • You are weak and unable to stand up for yourself

How do Gender Norms harm society?

All of these prejudiced assumptions create countless problems worldwide.

In many countries, women who even try to express their right to vote are threatened. To this day, Vatican City prohibits all females from voting. Under Shi’a Family Law, women are required to ask for permission to leave the home unless it is an emergency. In western Kenya, pregnant women are prohibited by cultural norms to be seen in public, and if they do so they are shunned and attacked. In many places in the world, men are deemed greater and stronger than women. To this day, only men can hold The Chrysanthemum Throne in Japan. A majority of peerages can only be held or inherited by men in the United Kingdom. In many countries, men have a requirement to serve in the military or sign up for the draft while women do not, like in the United States of America or in South Korea. The viewpoint that men are emotionally stronger or distant also inhibits men from expressing emotion for fear of seeming "weak". According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.56 times more likely to commit suicide than women, which could be explained by the societal pressures preventing men from talking about their feelings.

How do I combat Gender Norms?

It may be very difficult to understand, but each person was raised differently. Some were brought up with gender-based prejudices.

While you may be infuriated that someone misgendered you or made a highly prejudiced assumption about you, judge the situation. For example, if an employee at a store says, “Excuse me, sir. Is there anything I can help you find?” but you don’t go by male pronouns, simply correct them as it was most likely an honest mistake. Every person is raised or brought up with different beliefs. These may include a combination of religious beliefs, taught prejudices, cultural opinions, etc. You cannot blame an individual for a prejudice they grew up with. However, you can take the chance to educate a prejudiced person (without anger) so they can try to understand the topic. NEVER give into or enable truly prejudiced people. It will only fuel them more and allow them to continue to be prejudiced and rude towards you and others. Approaching the situation with anger will entice a prejudiced person to continue to discriminate simply for the sake of causing chaos and discordance. Always rise above the situation.

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