Gender and Sexuality

Human beings live in a world which is characterized by a variety of preferences and opinions about various facets of life. For instance, people hold different views and opinions about certain aspects of life, such as attitudes towards a given orientation in life. These different opinions impose some limitations to the study beforehand. In order to obtain a clear explanation of these differences, firstly we need to establish the exact meaning of the world “culture”.

Hofstede defines culture as the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes members of the human group from each other. This definition brings out the fact that cultural orientations are different and they vary from place to place. What comes out from this definition is that culture is learned. Culture represents a link between our past and future generations, which we come from. This invariably implies that the way we perceive our sexual orientation is a total sum of what the society has made us to be (Ortner, 1981). Researchers agree that gender expectations vary across cultures, as much as understandings of our sexual orientation, which imposes a limitation on the study of gender and sexuality.

The study of gender and sexuality has observed debates, which lead to the conclusion that there are two dimensions with regard to gender and sexuality. These dimensions are the biological essentialism versus social constructionist. This happens because scholars have observed that gender and sexuality appear to be fluid concepts . This had specific implications of the general outlook of the gender and sexuality subject. Essentially, this has led to the view that gender and sexuality should not just be viewed as a biological reality. Instead, constructionists have perpetuated the notion that sexual identities are the product of the society which brings a major limitation, when it comes to studying this subject.

According to this debate, there is a gap that has been brought about by the conflict in terms, which have been utilized. Essentially, this has been caused by the fact that the majority of the people have the tendency to look at gender and sexuality in terms of black and white. This at times is usually at loggerheads. Eventually, this would pose to be a major limitation in the study. Furthermore, owing to the rapid changes and transformation, which took place in this century, there had been a shift with regard to sexual orientations. For instance, the concept of homosexuality, which had arisen in the mid nineteenth century, transformed certain acts of sexuality into a certain form of sexual identity (Rust, 1992).

Although anatomy and physiology explain the biological bases of human sexuality, most people’s sexual experiences also involve beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and social behaviors. The way how we behave either as male or female is a direct product of what the society has trained us to think and behave with regard to our sexuality. The roles which are derived from our social orientation with regard to our aspect of sex are referred to gender. Gender roles refer to a collection of attitudes and behaviors that are considered to be normal and appropriate in a given culture (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2008). It is also important to note that out of these roles certain inclinations, which are related to our sexuality in light of the society, are created. The gender roles establish sex-related behavioral expectations, which people are expected to fulfill, being normally fashioned about the age of two years.

In conclusion, it is important to note that gender socialization is understood as a complex psychological and social construction, but not as a simple extension of anatomically based reproductive capacities or brain physiology. This implies that we eventually obtain the roles, which we tend to play in the society based on the social environment, where we find ourselves earlier in life. However, in spite of all cultural changes that currently take place, there are still a lot of things that should be done in line with the subject of gender and sexuality.


Anita, J. & Schwarzbaum, E. (2010). Culture and Identity: Life Stories for Counselors and Therapists (2nd ed.). California: SAGE.

Bohan, J. S. (1996 ). Psychology and sexual orientation: coming to terms. New York: Routledge.

Gordon, E., Eric, G., & Kelli, M. (2000). Essentials for health and wellness (2nd ed.). California: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Hofstede, G. H. (2003 ). Culture’s consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. New York: SAGE.

Ortner, S. B. (1981). Sexual meanings, the cultural construction of gender and sexuality. Cambridge: CUP Archive.

Rust, Paula C. The Politics of Sexuality: Sexual Attraction and Behavior among Lesbian and Bisexual Women. Social Problems 39.4 (1992): 366-86.

Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel, E. R. (2008 ). Intercultural Communication: A Reader. California: Cengage Learning.

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