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For many years, it has been the norm in the society to generalize the attributes, roles and differences of gender and this we call gender stereotypes. They can either be positive or negative but most of the time communicates inaccurate information about gender. Taking a look at the female stereotypic role which tends to be more restrictive as compared to the male, it shows that they should marry, have kids, be caring, nurturing, emotional and often putting their needs before others. The male roles include being the financial provider, assertive independent and often hold back his emotions.
Gender roles in the society affect the human sexuality which is how people express themselves as sexual beings. Human sexuality for both women and men are generally the same but men tend to initiate sex because of their roles and attributes. The society generally also wants to control female sexuality more.
Gender identity is defined as the personal conception of a person as male or female and although it relates to gender role, it is quite distinct as the latter only reflects gender identity as it is simply the outward manifestation of personality. Sexual orientation on the other hand describes a person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender they are attracted to. Example: heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual.
Biological factors are very essential in a person’s gender identity. Both genders have distinct physical characteristics which are made possible by hormones in the body. Different hormone levels in each gender such as androgens, will determine the behaviour of a person which therefore shows their gender identity. Environmental factors also have a major impact of a person’s gender identity as the way they are brought up or taught in their respective environments, influences their behaviors, interest and self concepts.
Cognitive developmental theory explains that development of gender identity in children was established early in life and acquired from the cognitive processes within the child. the theory describes development in three stages which are: establishing gender identity, gender stability and gender consistency.
In America today, there is a lot of sexual prejudice on sexual orientation especially to homosexuals. However, the society seems to prefer having lesbians than gays. This can be attributed to the gender roles as men are expected to be tough and assertive and encourages prejudice on gay men. The society’s expectation on gender roles affect one’s sexual orientation as studies show that those who conform to the stereotypical gender roles tend to be heterosexual and those who are non- conforming tend to be homosexual or bisexual.