What makes a man, a man? What makes a woman, a woman? Why is it that we are assigned to these categories since the moment we are born? And why are we expected to play roles in society that deems as feminine or masculine?
Gender stereotyping has a massive part in the social construct of gender and deems certain things as being masculine or feminine. Stemming from the idea that sex and gender are connected: “Gender, specified as masculine or feminine, denotes the psychosocial attributes and behaviors people develop as a result of what society expects of them, depending on whether they are born female or male”(Hubbard, 157).
There is the idea that men are meant to be the breadwinners and women are meant to be the homemakers. Some other gender stereotypes are that women are emotional, men are tough and they are not supposed to show emotions, hence the saying boys shouldn’t cry. Stereotypes can also apply to jobs like nursing is a heavily female-dominated area of study, which relates to another stereotype that says women are naturally more nurturing therefore they are nurses or teachers. On the other hand, STEM fields are more likely to be dominated by men because they are more logical. Women that pursue careers in STEM are discriminated against by their male peers, professors, etc, and this is the same as men pursuing careers that contain mainly women.
Religious institutions also have a part in furthering these stereotypes of men being breadwinners and women as homemakers. “In the US, religious ideology and gender role attitudes are deeply intertwined and interdependent institutions”(Siordia, 231). By promoting the idea of men and women being fundamentally different, religious institutions go on to cultivate men being a part of the public sphere and women in the private sphere, hence solidifying the previously mentioned stereotypes. In addition mainstream religious institutions have a strong bias with the idea of monogamous heterosexual marriage as being the norm(Siordia, 231). Gender becomes a man and woman, a perpetuated idea that there will always and ever be two genders.
The Western assumption is the root cause of there being only two kinds of people. This is a result of there being two sexes that form coupling which leads to producing offspring. “That coupling, if it does not grow out of the teachings of Western religions, it is surely reinforced by them”(Hubbard, 158). Furthermore, Western colonization is the reason why many groups of people in different countries have been shunned for having a third gender. In many cases, prior to this, there have been instances where groups of people such as Native Americans of having a third gender. They were known as nadles or berdaches and were honored despite being neither male nor female(Hubbard, 160).
Society strives to control the common person. By enforcing these ideas, it becomes easier to control people, restrict their expression and redirect their attention to things that benefit society for itself and those in power.
Hubbard, Ruth. (1996). Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender. Social Text, 46/47, 157–165. https://doi.org/10.2307/466851
Siordia, Carlos (2016). On the Relationship between Gender Roles Attitudes, Religious Ideology and Familism in a Sample of Adults in the United States. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 17(4), 229-244. https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1895&context=jiws.