Gender and Gender Roles

Depending on your sex, you will see the relevance of this topic differently. Considering we all know someone who is a different sex than us and that person/people portray their sex through different versions of gender I am sometimes surprised that we continue to hold specific views about males and females. Sometimes I have to remind myself that our ideas about gender are based on our values.

Knowing that we will all see this topic differently, I want to remind you that as a sociologist it is required of you to acknowledge your biases so that they are less likely to influence your research and results. As a sociologist, you are held to a higher standard. As my student, I know that you can do this. You might want to consider how gender influences your identity and the gender role that you play. It will be helpful to consider it before we move forward.

The perception of oneself as either masculine or feminine is a gender identity. The characteristics, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that society expects of females and males are known as gender roles.

Sociologists often describe our roles as gendered, the process of treating and evaluating males and females differently because of their sex. We often hold onto gender stereotypes that can influence our values and are also influenced by our values. You should also consider your gender stereotypes.

Gender stereotypes are expectations about how people will look, act, think, and feel because of their sex.  Let’s start with the Who..


Everyone is a sex and has a gender. We need to confirm the terms sex and gender so that we can have a conversation on the topic, so let’s clear that up from the beginning.

First, sex refers to the biological characteristics with which we are born—chromosomes, anatomy, hormones, and other physical and physiological attributes.

Gender refers to learned attitudes and behaviors that characterize people of one sex or the other. Gender is based on social and cultural expectations rather than on physical traits.

You might be interested to know that India has recognized a third sex/gender. You can read about this news through this website:

There is an intersection of sex, gender, and sexual orientation that can be difficult to understand. A person’s sexual orientation can make other people see their gender differently. I have often heard that people in same sex relationships take the role of a male or female in a relationship, but I think it is important to consider that we see it as we understand it.

Let us also decide upon some definitions related to sexual orientation and some terms related to the gender that people may portray contrary to our understanding. Sexual orientation is one’s preference for sexual partners of the same sex, of the opposite sex, or of both sexes.

Homosexuals are sexually attracted to people of the same sex.

Heterosexuals are called “straight” and are attracted to partners of the opposite sex.

Bisexuals, sometimes called bis, are attracted to members of both sexes.

Asexuals lack any interest in or desire for sex.

Transgendered include transsexuals, intersexuals, and transvestites. Transgendered people can include all of the above. Researchers measure the extent of homosexuality by simply asking people whether they identify themselves as either heterosexual or as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered (the acronym is GLBT).

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