“Gender” means whether people identify as being male or female, neither or both.
A “role” is a part someone acts out, like in a play.
People are raised to act a certain way (play a role) based on whether they are born with a penis or a vagina.
For example, our culture teaches boys that:
- Little boys play with trucks and wear blue.
- Boys should be aggressive, take what they want.
- Boys should not cry or talk about their feelings.
Our culture teaches girls that:
- Little girls play with dolls and wear pink.
- Girls should be passive.
- Girls are very emotional and it’s not “lady-like” to show anger or be loud.
When it comes to communication these roles are not helpful and sometimes harmful because:
- Girls are taught to be passive and not speak out about their needs and guys are taught to be aggressive and do what they want without thinking about the other person.
- If this played out in a sexy situation between a guy and a girl, it could mean that the guy is aggressive and does not ask for permission (consent) or consider/ask what the girl wants and the girl may not feel comfortable saying no or voicing what she wants or needs. This could lead to sexual assault or a lot of other problems in the relationship.
- It makes it harder for people to express themselves and talk about problems or important issues like condom use in a respectful/safe way.
- It is limiting and people can feel pressure to act the role and not be who they really are just to fit in or to avoid being made fun of.