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Connie Diep
Professor Beadle
English 115
7 December 2015
Gender Identity and Expectations in Society
In western society we have two categories to identify male/female. This category is called
sex. Gender identity is an individuals behavior or the way he/she is described (masculine or
feminine). Sex (male/female) is genetic and biological. This gender identity is formed by
societys pre-conceived idea that parents are the first to teach their young about sex and whether
it makes them masculine or feminine. Parents want to make sure that they are correctly raising
their child according to societys standards. They must properly dress males/females by
masculine/feminine colors. Forcing people to identify to one gender is a problem because they
cannot freely express themselves without having to be put in a binary category. This has
personally affect me because I have a single mother who has taught me how to take on gender
roles. The articles: Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender by Judith Lorber,
Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender by Aaron Devor and
Women, Men, and Society by Claire Renzetti & Daniel Curran, discuss the struggles of
identifying to only one sex category and its expectations from society. Society reconstructs our
gender identity whether we are male/female and weve all experienced some sort of pressure to
conform throughout our gendered lives.
Men and women in society are judged based on their physical appearance, choice,
teachings and practices. People are not satisfied until they are able to properly identify other
individuals as male or female. Lorber said, As they started to leave the train. The father put a

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Yankee baseball cap on the childs head. Ah, a boy, I thought. Then I noticed the gleam of tiny
earrings in the childs ears, and as they got off, I saw the little flowered sneakers and lacetrimmed socks. (Lorber, 20). As these boys/girls develop into men/women they start to define
what they do to make his/her sex clear to society. In Aaron Devors article, Becoming Members
of Society, he explains that body postures, demeanors, speech and phrases communicate either
vulnerability (feminine) or dominance (masculinity) to others. (Devor, 41). But in the article he
uses gender neutral pronouns like they when describing feminine or masculine body
languages. Devor is stating the stereotypes of the typical weak woman versus the tough and
dominant man.
Having gender expectations is the reason why gender discrimination still exists. The
result of discrimination is that society does not see the potential within an individual. This
matters because a person will not be seen for his/her values and what accomplishments they can
achieve. Instead society takes these negative thoughts and continue to put people down
eventually causing him/her to reshape his/her image in order to be accepted. The first individuals
to understand this first hand is children. At a very young age children are taught to understand
the differences between genders rather than sex. Devors article, Becoming Members of
Society: The Social Meanings of Gender says, In one study, young school age children, who
were given dolls and asked to identify their gender, overwhelmingly identified the gender of the
dolls on the basis of attributes such as hair length or clothing style, in spite of the fact that the
dolls were anatomically correct. (Devor, 37). Kids are not aware of the process for taking on
gender. The ultimate result is that they are not able to find themselves throughout the gendering
cycle. The reason why Devor brings up children in the discussion is because they are the future
of society. The importance of teaching children how to perceive gender will determine whether

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or not gender discrimination will still exist in the future. Children learn who they are based off
societys expectation and how they are seen. In our society, we see men and women achieve the
same accomplishments but men are often applauded while women are expected to be stay-athome mothers, to cook and clean the house while men were working to provide for the mother
and child.
Some countries claim to not value gender expectation from people but blindly do not see
that they obviously do. Lorber says, Women still do most of the domestic labor and child
rearing, even while doing fulltime paid work; women and men are segregated on the job and
each does work considered appropriate; womens work is usually paid less than mens work
(Lorber, 30). It is a problem having different gender roles because it limits women in the
workforce. Gender roles have personally affected me because my mom has always been the
provider of our family. She has raised my sister and me for almost our whole lives. My mother is
strong and independent, so in a way she has been my fatherly figure as well. She has taught me
to take on the gender roles of masculine traits. I have courage, toughness, and independence.
These traits have shaped me into the person I am today. Women in modern society today have
drastically changed because they are not as domesticated anymore and are out in the workforce
providing for their families.
Society isnt the only factor that impacts childrens way of gender identity, it is also the
parents. Mothers and fathers purposely dress their child accordingly based on their sex so that
other individuals do not get it confused. Women, Men, and Society by Claire Renzetti &
Daniel Curran, give an example, Boys are typically dressed in primary colors and girls are
typically dressed in pastels colors. Sex labeling. (Renzetti and Curran, 77). It is significant
because children grow up and are expected to act the way he/she was identified. Finding his/her

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gender identity growing up is even more difficult due to being raised under gender norms. When
children are finally grown up, a few might discover his/her new gender identity but by the time
that they realize who they are they know it will be harder for society to accept them.
Children must learn from parents about gender identity so that they are able to understand
society. By learning what his/her identity is they are able to accept who they are. In Becoming
Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender, by Aaron Devor states, To be accepted
in society children must learn gender identities and gender roles. Being able to learn that they are
both as they see themselves and as others see them. (Devor, 37). Individuals trying to find their
belonging in male/female society may be hard because they have grown up only knowing one
gender role. We are set up in society to conform to general norms by separating each sex and
expecting certain gender traits from each one.
Although, some people may disagree that our gender roles are not constructed by our
parents, it is believed that we are put under extreme pressure by expectations within our sex
category. And that there is also a misconception between the words, sex and gender. These
two words almost sound the same but are not true. Sex is the biology and anatomy to what makes
a person male/female. Gender is the way we behave, think, or carry traits such as
masculine/feminine. People are starting to undermine the word feminine, which refers to
women. This changes the view of a womans role in society which makes her seem devalued and
unappreciated. Gender roles are completely changed now where women are now able to play
both mother and father roles. The articles in these essays discuss the stereotyping and judgement
based on each sex and his/her roles he/she must perform in society. We can make society a better
place to live in if we can challenge and persevere through the expectancy of gender roles.

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Works Cited
Devor, H Aaron. Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender.
Composing Gender. 1st Ed. Eds. Rachael Groner and John F. O Hara. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 35-43. Print.
Lorber, Judith. Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. Rachael Groner and John F. O Hara. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 19-30.
Renzetti, M. Claire. Curran, J. Daniel. Women. Men, and Society. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. Rachael Groner and John F. O Hara. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 76-84.