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Gender roles are socially stipulated behavior norms based on unique factors and images assigned to each sex. People perceive the opposite sex on the basis of gender determinants and principles. There are patterns of behavior and communication assigned to both sexes, different cloths styles and social values followed by men and women. In general, and almost universally, women have been assigned responsibility for childbearing, child rearing, and related household behaviors, while men have been assigned roles having to do with external relations, hunting, and warfare. Gender norms violations can be identified as adoption of behavior patterns and actions atypical for a given sex and prescribed to an opposite gender
Gender norms violations are perceived as such because at the level of personality, the concept of sex role refer to differential expectations of general behavioral and temperamental characteristics associated with stereotypes of men and women. For instance, goatee (facial hair) is a typical gender norm violation for women. For a Western man, high heels and a skirt are also considered gender roles violations. While this aspect overlaps considerably with the structural usage of sex roles, the intersex consensus and persistence over time of sex role stereotypes suggests utility of the concept beyond the specific application to family role differentiations.
The differentiation of expected behavior and personality characteristics of women and men is reflected at the individual level in conceptions of gender identity that are related to portrayal of masculine and feminine behaviors within and outside of specific role contexts (Schaefer 34).
Following Schaefer (2005), gender roles are imperfect but useful concept to refer to those differences between women and men that are socially recognized and defined by appropriate normative role expectations. Sexual relations between men, lesbian elations and homosexuality are considered as gender norms violation. Whether these expectations are derived from social circumstances such as traditional role differentiation with the family, or from the needs of the sexes in interpersonal relations, or from some aspect of biological difference, is not a substantial issue in this research. The greater the difference the stronger the role differentiation is assumed to be.
From this perspective, change in sex roles appears as change in the differences between the sexes. For a woman, a typical example of gender role violation is to get very drunk or be extremely violent. However, as women and men together make up society, obviously important aspects of change experienced by women are also experienced by men and are not, consequently, processes of sex role change per se, but rather of social change. The overlaying of social roles with sex roles precludes a precise and generally applicable conceptual distinction between these two forms of change. In spite of these changes, if men use makeup and have long hair it is always perceived as gender role violations.
For example, sewing might be fun, unless one is a boy, then it is devalued and rejected in favor of building with wood and hard steel tools. Again, being a person who builds with wood but does not sew dresses anchors the gender identity; the cognitive aspect of role patterns results in conformity to normative cultural patterns through principles of consistency and appropriateness, even without actual reinforcements; models are chosen in terms of gender category to be appropriate to self.
People sort things out in terms of gender identity and acquire the appropriate characteristics (Schaefer 39). Once established, the basic sense of gender is stronger and more stable than even physical sexuality, as the literature on transsexuals shows. Apart from the study of values about women’s roles, usually formulated in terms of career versus homemaking, there has been almost no research on sex differences along these dimensions. It is not typical for women to be a fire-fighter or taxi driver, aerospace engineer and boxer, military or captain. For a man, it is a violation of gender roles to become a governess or a nanny.
In sum, the main evidence on sex differences in achievement has to do with differences in the way achievement imagery is aroused in women and men and in the way scores based on that imagery predict achieving performance. To account for those gender differences, various writers have developed some interesting and provocative interpretations having to do with the implications of sex role characteristics and stereotypes for expectancy and attribution factors that interact with achievement motivation to produce total levels of motivation for success. Notwithstanding the interest and elegance of some of these models, a number of important inconsistencies point toward substantially different conclusions and outcomes.
Nevertheless, the consistency of discursive writings and the content of the sex role stereotypes that are congruent with the cultural patterns being described clearly suggest that an important component in the sex differences on achievement orientations must derive from differences in these basic profiles. With that awareness, gender identity is established as a permanent and basic categorical foundation for all later learning and experience. Once gender identity is established, future learning takes place in terms of basic, cognitive mechanisms.
Schaefer, R. T. Sociology Matters. 2rd edition. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 2005.