Gender Norms Impact Identity
According to Simply Psychology, social norms are “unwritten rules on how to behave.” From social norms come gender norms that directly correspond to the gender differences that society perceives. Overseas Development Institute found that “gender norms differ from informal rules or expectations that relate only or primarily to the behavior of one sex.”
For women, a common gender norm is that they are meant to hold more domestic roles such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children. Men, on the other hand, deal with the pressures of being the breadwinner and are told not to wear their emotions on their sleeve.
“Gender roles are even trickier because it’s more so how we operate in society based on gender and because it’s so entrenched in our understanding that we still haven’t gotten to the point of using the most appropriate language for referring to certain roles and certain things [like] positions in life that have no reason to be gendered,” Dr. Celine Thompson, assistant professor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, said.
Gender norms tell people what they should buy, what they should eat, how they should act, what they are interested in and more. They lead some to have the mindset that “girls can’t be tough,” or “boys can’t get emotional and cry.” But these mindsets are shifting. Gender norms are changing as time goes on.
What about the children who do not fit into the mold of what it means to be a boy or a girl? Is it possible to break this repeating pattern of demeaning people if they do not follow their stereotypical gender norms?
Society is starting to break free from the typical gender norms and escape the roles and expectations that they create. According to a 2017 Pew Research study, most adults feel that parents should encourage their kids to play or participate in activities that are identified with the opposite gender.
According to Pew Research, “Americans are becoming more accepting in their views of LGBT people and homosexuality in general, and the number of people identifying as LGBT has grown in recent years. For example, 63 percent of Americans said in 2016 that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 51 percent in 2006.”
Accepting LGBTQ+ individuals is just one step forward.
Not everyone fits inside the black and white mold society has formed for what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. People overall are becoming more accepting of those who are breaking the mold.
“I mean there is millions of us out there that are struggling and are, you know, committing suicide even just because they are so confused and they’re not accepted and they’re not able to be who they want to be. So to me it’s very important because it pretty much describes my whole life,” Kemuel Segarra, an LGBTQ+ individual, said. “I think it’s very important and I think the fact that we are moving forward and we’re getting our rights respected and we’re being treated equally. I think it’s a big step so it’s huge to me.”
By Hailey McDonough