Gender norms are the perceived set of behaviors that are expected by the females and the males of a society. There are basic differences in what the society expects of the men and the women. They have to take up gender roles based on the norms of the society. These norms and roles relates to several behaviors such as governing the house, personal characteristics, and other legal rights.
Many societies of the world have the norm for men to be the breadwinner of the household and for the women to be the house maker. The man has to take care of the family by taking on a job, and earning for a living. On the other hand, the woman to stay at home and look after the family through doing their work for them, such as cooking, cleaning, and other requirements, all of which revolve inside the four corners of the household.
The norm is based on the belief that the ‘man’s world’ is outside of the house, which is a vicious jungle filled with competitors yearning for survival, and that the ‘woman’s world’ is her entire household and not the outside world. This norm is also based on the stereotypical characteristics that are associated with men and women, such as men are thought of as aggressive and ambitious who can take on any challenge, whereas, women are thought of as shy, passive, emotional and easily taken over (Macionis 212)
The norm about the gender roles has much to do with the culture prevailing in a particular society. Many cultures around the world restrict the females in terms of liberty to live as freely as men. They have to rely on their fathers before marriage and on their husbands after their marriage. On the other hand, some modern cultures give rights to women to live freely as they please and not bound themselves with marital or family ties. But in any culture, conservative, or non conservative, men have the freedom to live in the outside world. They are established as a ruler of the household, and the one on whom the rest of the family relies on (Macionis 230).
Another gender norm, that was a law in many traditional societies, was the right of men to hold property and get education, the right for which the women were deprived of. This law established that the women were denied of the right to hold property, to vote, to go to school, to travel, to borrow money, and to enter certain occupations. In recent years, there has been significant movement towards gender equality, but large inequalities remain, even in the United States. They are evident in education, in the workplace, and in politics. Underlying these inequalities in the social norms is sexism – prejudice and discrimination against women (Schaefer 189).
Thus, we can establish the fact the societal norms for the gender have a lot to do with the traditions of the society, the role of culture and the concept of sexism. Each society has its own set of norms, which may have been common in the entire world before, but with the modernization of many societies, such norms that were sexist and more conservative, restricting women to work have changed, and there is much liberty for women as established in the gender norms in earlier times.