Gender Roles

The Differences in Gender Identity and Gender Roles

What Are Gender Roles?

Gender roles are standards made by society of how a person with a specific gender identity is supposed to act. Gender stereotypes, an extreme distortion of the general characteristics of men and women, comes along with gender roles. Stereotypes are spread every day through the media, people in public, and even our own parents.

Gender Identity

Gender identity is a person's sense of them self as male, female, or transgender. Gender and sex are two different things. Gender refers to the behaviors that a culture associates with people of a particular sex, while sex refers to biological status. A person's sexual and gender identity are usually the same, this is known as gender-normative. Though when someone of a certain sex identifies as the opposite sex, this means they are transgender. Most children label themselves between the ages two and three and learn characteristics of their gender role by the age of five.

Sexual Orientation

Gender identity expands into sexuality. Sexual orientation is one's sexual and emotional attraction to the same sex, the opposite sex, both, or neither. An individual's sexuality is more than sexual encounters, it is an elaborate part of their personality. Sexuality is usually formed at an early age.

Changing Standards

The world we know today is changing, so are "gender roles". Sandra Bem began arguing the acceptance of androgynous roles. Androgynous roles are a combination of both male and female characteristics. She began asking college students which traits were more like them, this was called the Bem Sex Role Inventory. Results showed that 50% of people stuck to their assigned gender roles, 15% were cross-sexed (people who checked traits of the opposite sex), and 36% were considered androgynous. It was published in 1974.

Personal Responsibility

Children these days have a bigger variety of options of ways to define themselves. The increasing acceptance of changing gender roles and sexuality has resulted in greater self responsibility. They are challenged with defining themselves through their personality, traits, talents, values, etc due to the increase of androgyny.