Gender role stereotypes were propagated even in the 19th century despite all efforts to combat it. One of the reasons why the war on gender stereotypes is not being won is that while the war is being fought, the gender stereotypes are being reinforced. There are several reasons why gender stereotypes continue to be reinforced in contemporary society. Issues such as biology, socialization, and roles play an important role in the maintenance of gender stereotypes since they maintain a clear demarcation between the different genders thus propagating gender stereotypes (Caroll, 2010).
Biology makes the contemporary society reinforce gender stereotypes. Men and women are made to be either stronger or weaken in certain areas. For instance, women generally tend to be weaker and as such may not be suitable for jobs, which call for heavy lifting. Through such aspects of biology, people propagate gender stereotypes since they affirm that women are either weak as they cannot perform certain tasks (Basow, 2006). While some women may be able to perform certain tasks, the instance of biology has made them generally weaker, and the generalization strengthens the notions of gender stereotypes. As such, biology is a fundamental aspect underlying the propagation of gender stereotypes.
Gender roles are an important aspect that underlies the propagation of gender stereotypes. Many cultures have placed certain gender roles on the different members of the community according to their gender. Gender roles refer to the different functions that men and women are expected to perform in the given society as either fathers and mothers or sons and daughters. The instance of gender roles thus ensures that the members of the community engage in an activity, in which their society deems them best suited. While gender roles have changed over time and with different cultures having differences in gender roles, the instance of similarity in gender roles in many cultures makes gender stereotypes to continue being propagated (Basow, 2012).
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Sexual and gender identity are part of the drivers of the gender stereotypes propagation in the current world. A lot has changed over time, but the society, in which we live in, still places a lot of emphasis on sexual and gender identity. Sexual identity refers to the instance of being male or female while gender identity refers to the classification of persons not according to sexual characteristics but rather on what they seem or want to be. While the contemporary world has made a lot of strides in gender with gender identity being very fluid, the general public deems sexual and gender identity to be strictly demarcated; and thus, sexual and gender identities are still widely held and propagated by the general public (Caroll, 2010).
The changing role of women in society is one of the greatest aspects that affect the war against gender stereotyping. Different cultures have always had gender stereotypes, which have their roots from gender (sexism), race (racism), religion (religious inequality), physical characteristics, national origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability, behavior or preference, political or age views. The combination of these aspects has made it very difficult to eradicate completely gender stereotypes since these aspects are being reinforced constantly. Religious discrimination, national origin, and political views form a very crucial source of gender stereotypes.
Religious discrimination is one of the oldest types of gender stereotyping being as old as the particular religion. Many religions of the world, such as Christianity and Islam, have clearly demarcated gender and sexual identity roles and expectations. Religions are very conservative and strict in the application of their rules and regulations regarding sexual and gender identity. For instance, the Catholic Church has very strict rules regarding who can serve as a priest. As such, only a man can serve as a priest. Religion also has rules against aspects such as same-sex relationships; and hence, religion serves as a very strong propagator of the maintenance of gender stereotypes (Basow, 2012).
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Political views are a source of discrimination and the propagation of gender stereotypes since they drive public policy. Political parties are formed and operate on certain views, which may either be according to the general public view or not. Political parties, such as the Democratic Party, are liberal and gender issues that are likely to gain if Democrats are in power. The Republicans, on the other hand, are known to be conservative and hence, they are more likely to oppose the changing of gender roles and identities; thus, when such a party is in power, gender issues will suffer (Caroll, 2010). The political views of the public determine who gets into power and what policies are passed into law since politicians appreciate the opinions of the electorate.
National origin also plays a critical part as a source of gender stereotypes. National origins usually represent cultural similarities among people with the same national origin. Many cultures possess conservative views regarding sexuality and gender identity; and hence, the national origin will many a time predict the instance of gender stereotypes (Caroll, 2010). People from the Far East, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are known to be very conservative; therefore, gender stereotypes will tend to be more pronounced in such societies. On the other hand, people originating in Western nations are less rigid and will allow for gender roles and sexual identity to be tweaked largely. Western societies also have more women working in their labor systems; thus, they will be less prone to gender stereotyping.
- Basow, S. A. (2006). Gender stereotypes: Traditions and alternatives. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
- Basow, S. A. (2012). Gender: Stereotypes and roles. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
- Carroll, J. L. (2010). Sexuality now: Embracing diversity. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.