Gender in Society

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Identity, Perception, and Controversy Towards Gender

Identity and culture, norms and sanctions, as well as globalization are some of the fundamental factors that have not only influenced the perception of gender the world over but have also diversified the meaning of the word “gender” beyond the female and male categories (Couric et al. 25). Since childhood, people perceive gender in terms of sexuality, such that a newborn is called male or female based on their anatomical making in their sexual organs (The New York Times 4). Nevertheless, some countries in the west and in mainland Europe have evolved to since give an intermediate category for the non-absolute male and female gender (The New York Times 7). However, the conventional way of naming one with a vulva as a female or a penis as male has attracted more controversy and intrigue in the twenty-first century; concerns which are not only compromising in the beliefs and traditions of the society, but also border critical policy-making decisions in governments and the individual thoughts of those affected.

The Three Dimensions of Gender Perception

The gender dimensions are as controversial as they are complex to handle and perceive in entirety. Typically, a child can be named as male or female in terms of gender; however, such categorization in childhood does not end there, as in their young adulthood people change their perception about gender (The New York Times 9). Consequently, there are three primary interrelationships that essentially determine the gender of a person. The first level of gender dimension is the anatomical making of the body. The presence of masculine features including the penis and feminine features including the vulva matter a lot. Furthermore, the understanding of gender by the society and the personal experience of one’s body as a female or male character, in relation to the social habits to interact with other people limited on the body anatomy matters a lot (Couric et al. 12). The second element that determines gender and perhaps the most intriguing is identity. The factor of identity is innate, and hence it recalls the inner feelings of a person, as to whether he or she perceives themselves as male or female respectively. Limited to the subject of identity, the society, culture, and traditions could recognize someone as either male or female, but the individual could identify themselves as a blend of the two genders, or even as of the opposite gender contrary to what the society perceives (The New York Times 12). The third dimension of gender perception is an expression. Expression borders on behavior, character, and the way individuals interact with the rest of the people in the society. Female gender or male gender is expected of certain modes of dress code, social operation, and family setting. Furthermore, based on the behavior of individuals and their role in the community in terms of gender, the society tries to shape them into what is expected of that respective gender (The New York Times 2). The balance among the three dimensions of gender means a lot about what an individual understands of gender in conformity with or is contrary to what the society believes and insists.

Diverse Gender Perceptions and Controversy

Discussions about gender, right from a young age is a controversial question in many debate forums, though it is the platform that gives an explanation why there are more gender perceptions in the society other than the conventional male and female categories. In fact, the diverse gender roles have informed the rationale behind the LGBTQQ sexual orientations, which stands for lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer (Nanda 545). Practically, while young, people could be perceived as male or female in absolute, though such people perceive themselves as different from their gender roles during young adulthood and beyond. The presence of the terms questioning and queer in the acronym hitherto means people are not sure of their gender, despite the communal classification as either male or female during birth. Such controversy means that there is more to gender and that people are diverse hence the different orientations. In childhood, there are categories of children who are birthed with both male and female genitals. Such children are neither male nor female. It follows that such children are intersexual, and in their adolescence and beyond they portray with behavior that is neither typically female nor typically male. Furthermore, some children could be born with internal ovaries or testes, and such ambiguous genitalia compromises the conventional classification of gender. Therefore, there are different types of gender (more than two) in human society. In Asian countries, for instance, there is a third gender, other than the male and female categories, called the Hijras (Nanda 542). Such is the intersex or eunuch individuals whose gender is intermediate, between male and female in typical terms. Moreover, there is the Kinnar category, whose members are actually transgender people in the Indian community (Nanda 548). Therefore, the Hijras are a third gender in the south Asian part of the world, and they are recognized as so (Nanda 549). Indeed, gender is beyond a mere mention of male or female categories.

The Impact of Gender Roles and Norms on Society

The gender norms are diverse in respect to culture and traditions; however, because of the commonality in gender roles, there is a close similarity between gender norms and the impact they have on society the world over. The roles of individuals in the society are informed by their gender as male or female, and the society enforces the conformation of the individual norms. The gender roles are dictated by the character and behavior of individuals, in regard to what the community embraces as the prevailing cultural norms (The New York Times 4). The interaction habits, dress code, thinking dimensions, and manner of speaking in the context of the societal beliefs define the different gender roles, which have elicited much controversy in society about how males or females should operate. Organizational frameworks, social power, professional positions, and labor immensely define gender roles; while the gender norms predetermine fundamental roles like childrearing, decision making, as well as economic responsibilities (The New York Times 8). Gender differences have sparked misunderstandings in the society, as the male and female categories often invite individuals to perform imagined roles. The controversy even heightens the more when females are brought up as passive, submissive, and to serve their families in domestic chores while the boy child is expected to be stoic, a provider of the family, demanding, and uncompromising in his decision-making practices (Couric et al. 7). Consequently, males are expected to provide, and this explains why most thieves, kidnappers, offenders, and robbers are males hence the negative impact of gender roles and norms on the society. Such roles and norms have further created a platform for the society to force single and widowed women to get married, as a male figure in their lives provides for them and reaffirms their role as women in the society, despite the many challenges that accompany imagined or forced marriages. On the one hand, gender roles and societal norms have defined the fundamental socioeconomic functioning of individuals in the community. On the other, such norms have reduced people into what they are thought to be rather than who they really are.

Works Cited


Couric, Katie et al. “Gender Revolution : A Journey with Katie Couric.” 2017: 1–345. Web.

Nanda, Serena. “Hijras as Neither Man Nor Woman.” 2011: 542–552. Print.

The New York Times. “What ’ S So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress ?” 4.1 (2012): 1–78. Print.

---. “When Girls Will Be Boys.” New York 4.2 (2008): 1–9. Print.

August 21, 2023




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