Enforced gender roles lead to dire consequences


MCT Photo

ABNORMAL. People who choose to defy gender norms face hostile and unaccepting environments, especially males. Gender roles are well-established at ages ten and 11. The consequences of these societal standards lead to health risks, both physical and mental.

While juniors in AP English Language and Composition inspected society’s impact on gender roles and their consequences in various pieces of literature, a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health discovered the relationship between gender norms and mental and physical health problems.

“The behaviors that [children] adopt and the social context in which they live can set trajectories for their health and well-being as adults,” said the study.

In the data collection, children from 15 countries across five continents were surveyed, yet the themes and effects of gender roles proved largely universal.

According to Dr. Kristin Mmari, one of the leading researchers in for qualitative research on the Global Early Adolescent Study, adolescent health programs that start at the age of 15 are often too late as gender roles and their resulting health risks are established at age ten or 11.

Risks associated with girls can include child marriage, diseases, suicide, dropping out of school, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Risks associated with boys include suicide and engaging in high-risk behavior such as substance abuse.

On the other hand, the study finds that gender nonconformity has a more negative effect on boys than on girls. The examples the study provided were girls playing football or soccer and boys wearing nail polish.

Gender nonconformity has a more negative effect on boys than on girls.”

While nonconformity generally is looked down upon among others, the study found that girls are not only more willing to challenge social norms but also more likely to be accepted by peers and parents.

However,”…their male sissy counterparts…appear to face significantly more stigma and rejection,” said the study.

In response to the results of their findings, researchers attempt to discern the reason behind this acceptance bias.

“A potential explanation for this may be that girls who “act like boys” display masculine characteristics associated with power and dominance, while conversely boys who ‘act like girls’ are generally not granted the same social acceptance because of the lower power or prestige associated with femininity traits and behaviors (e.g., gentleness, softness),” said the study.