A gender role is a theoretical construct in the social sciences and humanities that refers to a set of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific gender. Proponents of gender role theory assert that observed gender differences in behavior and personality characteristics are, at least in part, socially constructed, and therefore, the product of socialization experiences; this contrasts with other models of gender that assert that gender differences are “essential” to biological sex. Research supports this theory, finding gender differences in almost all societies, but with differences in the norms adopted, suggesting that gender differences are, at least partly, influenced by culture.
Gender has several valid definitions but it here refers to an individual’s inner sex or psychological sense of being a male or female irrespective of one’s (outer) sex identity as determined by one’s sexual organs. There are two main genders: masculine (male), or feminine (female).
Gender identity refers to the options available to members of a society to choose from a set of social identities, based on the combination of one’s sex identity on the one hand, and one’s natural gender, interests and social experiences on the other. Some ancient tribes have more than five human genders. Most non-Western societies have three human genders — man, woman and third gender. In the West, gender is considered to be an invalid concept, and is considered to be the same as one’s sex identity, for which there are considered only two valid options — male or female. Any gender variation from one’s sex identity is treated in the West as a disease or abnormality to be corrected.
Gender roles refers to the set of attitudes and behaviors socially expected from the members of a particular gender identity. Gender roles, unlike natural human genders, are socially constructed. They may reflect natural gender aspirations of the members of that gender identity, or they may be politicised and manipulated, which then result in the oppression of people.
For a long time now, penetrative sex with women and reproduction within the marriage institution has been adjugded as the most basic criteria for granting manhood (gender identity for men) by most of the non-Western world. In the modern West, this essential requirement has been changed to a heterosexual desire, resulting in the Western concepts of ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual,’ instead of the usual gender identities for males.