Sexuality and Gender and the Stereotypes Related to Them in the Modern World

The search for one’s purpose and identity in the world never truly ends. However, the unavoidable mistake that everyone has made and continue to make is to derive one’s worth and self-image from the constructs of social misconceptions, manifested in the form of stereotypes. As organisms that instinctively seek belonging and acceptance by a group, as individuals, not submitting or rebelling against established social cues could endanger someone to persecution or even isolation.

Therefore, to prevent the antagonism of others, stereotypes–mostly false misperceptions and expectations of specific groups of people, such as race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.

–exist to avoid social anxiety. The problem lies not just with the existence of stereotypes, but the seemingly blind consent to follow. To combat the invalid views of groups that today’s society use as a social crutch, authors, such as Gloria Naylor, Robert Max Johnson, Rosario Morales and others, attempt to expose the discrimination and stereotypes that target sexuality and gender.

Sexuality and gender may appear as the same topic; however, to assert someone’s sexuality based on their gender or gender based on sexuality is already a common social fallacy. Sexuality and gender are indeed related to each other, but differ in many respects. Sexuality regards an individual’s personal preference in attraction, whether to the same sex or opposite sex. Gender is someone’s biological makeup, including reproductive organs, hormones, and other aspects of anatomy.

The issue regarding sexuality and gender is that the innumerable ideals and accepted values that society has established to govern them either distort them from their initial definition, or assume implied characteristics.

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For example, if someone is to have given birth to a baby girl, from the moment the baby is born, certain expectations and value has already been assigned to the baby before she has said her first word. The world may see the baby girl as a housewife, a sex symbol, a feminist, or other stereotypes for women, simply because the baby is a girl. In another aspect, there are expectations and ideals already laid in place for sexuality.

Originally, it would not be uncommon to assume that a man is attracted to women, and women are attracted to men; even biology would assert to it. However, the man-woman relationship can no longer be the only accepted form of human relationship in the presence of other possibilities. Homosexual relationships, gay and lesbian, may not be traditionally accepted, but nonetheless deserve as much respect as heterosexual relationships and not as much criticism.

The source of conflict is not that homosexual relationships are wrong, but different. The dissonance between perceptions of a socially accepted relationship and homosexual relationship create tensions from which usually negative connotations are placed on terms “gay” and “lesbian” and create stereotypes. To alleviate some of the tension regarding relationships, the question must begged of what a “normal relationship” is and what fulfills the criteria of a relationship. Gloria Naylor, author of Women of Brewster Place sheds light on the dilemmas of human relationships.

Throughout her novel, Gloria Naylor depicts the toils and trials of black women living in a poor area called Brewster Place, whether victim to domestic violence, abandonment, or robbery of one’s dreams. The men in the novel are portrayed as greedy, lustful, and conniving. And despite their negative characteristics, the women attempt to maintain the relationship. The relationships themselves appear unhealthy, but to some the fact that the relationship includes a man and woman would make it “normal”.

However, what if the relationship was between two women, but relatively healthy compared to the other couples? Sophie, one of the female characters within Brewster Place, criticizes the relationship out of its supposed religious heresy. “What they doin’–livin’ like that–is wrong, and you [Mattie] know it…them things is an abomination against the Lord. We shouldn’t be havin’ that here on Brewster…” (Naylor 140). Rather than try to understand the lesbian couple, Theresa and Lorraine, Sophie succumbs to the uncertainty of such a relationship and tries to hide behind religious rationalization. Sophie manifests society’s ways of handling different things, by rejecting them out of fear and chance of straying from the normal.

Mattie acts as a vessel in which to criticize society, “Maybe it’s not so different… Maybe that’s why some women get so riled about it, ’cause they know deep down it’s not so different after all”” (141). The novel depicts Theresa and Lorraine living together, communication, having fights, and such, components of what would be considered a “normal” relationship. Theresa and Lorraine’s gender may be both female, but doesn’t mean they have to be attracted to men; just because their sexuality does not conform to the establishment of “sexuality” does not make it wrong, just different.

Regardless how much people want to evoke change in the way the people perceive others, the obstacle of conformism still proves a formidable opponent to progress. However, when people use labels and stereotypes to classify people, they only perpetuate the discrimination they hope to eliminate. In order to truly be ridden of discrimination, people must deny the ideas and thoughts that constructed sexism, racism, and such in their minds. From all directions we get all the beliefs to go with these divisions we believe all kinds of things about: what real men are what women must want…all subjected to the violent pernicious ideas we have learned to hate that we must all struggle against them and exchange a way of means (Morales 93).

The importance of Rosario Morale’s words in her article “We’re All in the Same Boat” is that the ideas of sexism and racism are not inborn, but taught. The idea of judging others due to expected ideals of race, gender, sexuality and such are not natural, Rather, it is because people are commonly affected that they should stand up against societal interpretations of what and how people are like. Being human is not defined by someone’s beliefs, gender, and race, but rather by the persons themselves. Preconceived notions set by stereotypes do not accurately define a person, but only attempt to falsely predict how a person will behave.

To completely diffuse the predictions set forth by stereotypes of sexuality and gender, they must be headed. The idea that men are sex machines that do not care about love is not absolute, and the idea that women have a lesser sex drive than men is not set in stone either. Combating common notions of sexuality and gender, Robert Max Johnson asserts that misconceptions of sexuality stem from gender inequality. Backed up by case studies, surveys, and other reports, Johnson concludes that it the misconceptions of the difference (or lack of difference) between the notions of men and women signal a more serious situation of sexual ignorance, and instead of understanding each other, men and women set expectations that end up with each other.

Men want a woman that is physically attractive and passively longing to be with him, yet doesn’t want a woman that can manipulate a man with her looks. A woman wants a man who is successful at work, financially well-off, and physically attractive, yet detests men with too much power or material.

In conclusion, gender inequality produces the oppositions and tensions between male and female sexuality through two associated processes. Men impose their desires and fantasies on women and on cultures a result of their dominance. Simultaneously, women use sexuality as a resource to ameliorate their subordination…It both attracts and repels. What is desired is feared. This tangle of tension and hidden motives produces the ideological deceptions and misconceptions through which we know sexuality (Johnson 169).

The truth between men and women is that despite common perception, men and women have similar desires and hopes, but through ignorance do men and women continue to barricade each other with stifling barriers of expectations. Based on the writings of Naylor, Morales, and Johnson, being human is not flawless. Misconceptions are inevitable, but are not invulnerable to change. Gender and sexuality stereotypes exist, and stem from ignorance and denial. Although many view gender and sexuality discrimination as unforgivable, it will continue as long as people are willing to perpetuate it through behavior and speech. Renovating the way people think about sexuality and gender may be difficult to initiate, as such topics are sensitive and awkward.

However, it is because the topics cause discomfort that they need to be addressed. Finding understanding regarding sexuality and gender is not just a victory for those currently affected by discrimination, but for the society as a whole for the common good.

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Sexuality and Gender and the Stereotypes Related to Them in the Modern World. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from

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