Understanding Gender and Sexuality in Psychology

Although they are frequently used synonymously in everyday speech, the terms “sexuality” and “gender identity” refer to separate psychological concepts with unique nuances. An individual’s internal perception of their gender, whether it be male, female, or somewhere in between, is referred to as their gender identity. It is a person’s self-perception, which is usually formed by the time they are three years old. Contrarily, sexuality describes a person’s sexual orientation or preference, or the people they find attractive on a romantic, emotional, or physical level.

Variance Between Gender and Sexuality

The set of psychological characteristics that separate the male and female sexes is referred to as gender. Although the terms gender and sex are frequently used interchangeably, gender can relate to psychological aspects, while sex can be used to address the biological or genetic distinctions between males and females. The term “sexuality” encompasses a wide range of emotions, actions, and identities related to sexual activity. Here, we go over the literature that has examined how gender and sexuality are related.

Also Read: WHO Has Released Guidelines Concerning the Health of Trans and Gender-Diverse People

Gender roles

The way we behave, act, speak, dress, groom, and carry ourselves in relation to our assigned sex is defined by gender roles in society. Girls and women are frequently expected to be kind, accommodating, and nurturing, for example, as well as to dress in stereotypically feminine ways. Traditionally, men have been viewed as strong, aggressive, and courageous.

All nations, ethnic groups, and cultures have gender role expectations, however, they may differ significantly from one another. They might also change over time within the same society. For instance, in the United States, pink used to be associated with men and blue with women.

Even though they are usually inaccurate and overly simplistic, stereotypes are generally held opinions or biases about a person or group. Gender stereotypes can lead to unfair and unequal treatment based solely on an individual’s gender. We refer to this as sexism.

How Gender Roles Affect Sexuality?

Gender stereotypes can be divided into four categories:

  • Personality traits: Women are usually perceived as emotional and accommodating, whilst men are considered to be assertive and confident.
  • Domestic behaviors: For instance, some people assume that men handle the finances, fix cars, and do home maintenance, while women take care of the kids, cook, and clean the house.
  • Occupations: Some people are quick to assume that men work in engineering, medicine, and teaching, whereas women work as teachers and nurses.
  • Physical characteristics: Men are meant to be tall and muscular, while women are expected to be graceful and slender. Additionally, it is expected of both sexes to groom and dress in ways that are stereotypical for their respective genders—women in dresses and short hairstyles, males in slacks.

The excess of stereotypically feminine conduct is known as hyperfemininity. People who are hyperfeminine accentuate the traits they consider to be feminine. Passive, innocent, sexually inexperienced, soft, flirty, graceful, nurturing, and accepting are a few examples of this.

The amplification of stereotypically male conduct is known as hypermasculinity. People who are hypermasculine emphasize the traits they consider to be manly. They feel that by being aggressive, worldly, sexually experienced, insensitive, physically intimidating, ambitious, and demanding, they should be able to dominate feminine people and compete with other males.

It may be challenging to build relationships among people because of these inflated gender preconceptions. People who identify as hyperfeminine are more likely to experience vigorous physical violence from their spouses. People who identify as hypermasculine are more prone to abuse their relationships emotionally and physically.

Also Read: Impact of Gender Roles on Parenting in Indian Society

How Gender Role Affects Sexuality?

It may seem a little absurd to think about your sexual aspirations at first. It may seem obvious to you that knowing what you want from sex is simple: you want to feel good and you want your partner to have fun. But gender and our expectations about sexuality are closely related. Furthermore, gender roles can have quite different effects on men’s and women’s expectations around their sexuality.

Gender roles have a multifaceted effect on men’s sexual aspirations. As an illustration:

Most forms of closeness are typically expected of men by culture, which can cause misinterpretation of signals and sex-related anxiety. In relationships, men’s pleasure is frequently overemphasized, maybe because males find pleasure easier to experience than women do. Men typically have more expectations and want in terms of sexuality as a result.

The reality that males usually need less emotional attachment to feel sexually pleased is complicated by the historical devaluation of emotional expression in male gender roles. This implies that even if they want something more, men may assume that having sex will be an emotionless experience. Men’s sexual expectations can be lowered when their emotional needs aren’t satisfied (or acknowledged) during a sexual encounter.

Also Read: Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements and Their Impact on Mental Health

Gender roles can also influence women’s sexual expectations in particular ways. As an illustration:

It’s a common misconception that women are sexually subservient and hardly initiate contact. This may result in sexual dysfunction, a lack of communication between partners, and fear related to sex, which may reduce a woman’s expectations for her sex. Disregard for female pleasure is nothing new. Women’s sexual desires in relationships with people of different sexes have not always been recognized or appreciated. Women typically need a stronger emotional bond in order to feel pleasure, which results in different sexual requirements and desires.

Women’s sexual expectations are lowered by certain societal ideas. Women may be taught (or learn) as they get older that having sex is all about making their spouse happy and that it’s okay to act as though you’re enjoying physical contact.

Gender Roles and Sexual Assertiveness in Relationship

Studies have looked into the connection between some aspects of sexual behavior and gender roles. For instance, a study revealed that, while it did not affect men, the gender role schema had an impact on women’s sexual satisfaction. In fact, having just a feminine gender role schema enhanced the level of sexual dissatisfaction. While most studies on sexual assertiveness indicate that women score lower than males in this area, there hasn’t been much research done on this gender-role-induced difference, and the results that are available are contradictory. For instance, a study found no connection between men’s and women’s sexual assertiveness and adapting to gender roles.

In contrast, women with more aggressive feminine characteristics showed lower levels of sexual assertiveness, according to Curtin et al. (2011). Understanding how gender roles affect a person’s ability to be sexually aggressive can significantly help family and marriage counselors help women feel more satisfied in their relationships both with men and with themselves.

Factors Influencing Gender Identity

Social and Environmental Factors Affecting Gender Identity:

Research has indicated that children’s social circumstances and upbringing have an impact on how their gender identities evolve. Research can be summed up by saying that parental and authority figure lessons about sexual stereotypes that occur in or before the early part of middle childhood have a significant impact on children’s interests, preferences, behaviors, and general self-concept. Youngsters who are taught that particular characteristics or behaviors are suitable or unacceptable for them to partake in due to their gender have a tendency to absorb and be impacted by these lessons in the future. Girls may report disliking math and denying interest in the topic if they are told that boys are naturally better at the subject than they are.

Also Read: Conference on Gender Equality in Bhagalpur University, Psychology Department

Hormonal Factors Influencing Gender Identity:

An important influence on how children develop physically is biological. For example, children have different sexual organs from birth, and they further differ when secondary sexual traits appear during puberty. Hormones are naturally occurring chemical messenger molecules in the body that regulate how these physical distinctions manifest.

Homosexual, Bisexual, and Trans Youth:

Due to strong biological and societal influences that steer subjects in a study in a specific direction, the majority of boys form a predominantly masculine gender identity, whereas the majority of girls form a gender identity that is predominantly feminine. Despite differences in their inclination to participate in gender-bending stereotypes, these kids share the same basic comfort and lack of concern related to their gender and sexual identity. They find that their gender identity is normal and feels natural. Their sexual and social preferences are consistent and in line with what their family and society expect of them. They don’t seem to have felt coerced into being someone they are not.

In Conclusion

There are two dimensions to gender and sexuality, according to disputes seen in the field of gender and sexuality studies. These dimensions contrast social constructionist theory with biological essentialism. This occurs as a result of academics noting that gender and sexuality seem to be mutable categories. This has particular ramifications for the way that gender and sexuality are generally seen. This has essentially led to the idea that sexuality and gender should not only be understood in terms of biology.

Also Read: Should rape be a gender-neutral crime that includes men and transgender people?

Gender refers to the duties that our societal orientations dictate for our particular element of sex. As defined by Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel (2008), gender roles are a set of attitudes and actions that are seen as normal and suitable within a particular culture. It’s also crucial to remember that these positions give rise to specific tendencies that are connected to our sexuality in the context of society. Gender roles provide sexual behavior standards that people must meet; these expectations are typically formed by the time a person is two years old.


Exit mobile version