What Are Gender Stereotypes?
A stereotype is a widely accepted judgment or bias regarding a person or group — even though it is overly simplified. Stereotypes about gender can cause unequal and unfair treatment because of a person’s gender. This is called sexism.
FOUR BASIC KINDS OF GENDER STEREOTYPES
- Personality traits — For example, women are often expected to be passive and submissive, while men are usually expected to be self-confident and aggressive.
- Domestic behaviors — For example, caring for children is often considered best done by women, while household repairs are often considered best done by men.
- Occupations — For example, until very recently most nurses and secretaries were usually women, and most doctors and construction workers were usually men.
- Physical appearance — For example, women are expected to be small and graceful, while men are expected to be tall and broad-shouldered.
Hyperfemininity and Hypermasculinity
Hyperfemininity is the exaggeration of stereotyped behavior that is believed to be feminine. Hyperfeminine women, as well as some gay men and male-to-female transgenders, exaggerate the qualities they believe to be feminine. They believe they are supposed to boost men's egos by being passive, naive, innocent, soft, flirtatious, graceful, nurturing, and accepting.
Hypermasculinity is the exaggeration of stereotyped behavior that is believed to be masculine. Hypermasculine men, as well as some lesbian and female-to-male transgenders, exaggerate the qualities they believe to be masculine. They believe they are supposed to compete with other men and dominate women by being aggressive, worldly, sexually experienced, hard, physically imposing, ambitious, and demanding.
These exaggerated gender stereotypes can create difficult relationships. Hyperfeminine women are more likely to accept physical and emotional abuse from their sex partners. Hypermasculine men are more likely to be physically and emotionally abusive to their partners.
Although most of us are not hyperfeminine or hypermasculine, many of us have anxieties and inhibitions about our femininity and masculinity.