Gender roles are well-established social constructions that may change from culture to culture and over time. For example, there has been an increase in children’s toys attempting to cater to both genders (such as Legos marketed to girls), rather than catering to traditional stereotypes. As society’s gender roles and gender restrictions continue to fluctuate, the legal system and the structure of American society, as well as other cultures, will continue to change and adjust.
We often make assumptions about how others should think and behave based on external appearance that represent biological characteristic but the process of defining gender and sexuality is complex and includes variations. There are some cultural universals but also culturally specific ways of defining masculinity, femininity, and sexuality. Furthermore, variations of sex, gender, and sexual orientation occur naturally throughout the animal kingdom. More than 500 animal species have homosexual or bisexual orientations (Lehrer, 2006). Gender inequality and discrimination are reinforced across cultures and within cultures through stereotypes and misunderstandings, as well as social norms and legal statutes. The traditional binary ways of understanding human differences are insufficient for understanding the complexities of human culture. As gender roles fluctuate, societies will continue to change and adjust.