the set of socially defined acceptable and appropriate actions and behaviours for women and men in society, to which the majority of each conform; these are social constructs that define maleness and femaleness, and/or masculinity and femininity, and can vary from culture to culture, and evolve throughout time.
Gender norms are consistently challenged in societies. One example of a once widely-held gender norm that has changed (or, at least, is more commonly challenged) is the gender norm of a woman being a wife and mother that performs the majority of domestic duties.
Gender norms also ascribe certain behaviours and presentations, such as the gender norm that women wear dresses and make-up (whereas men typically don’t). An example of changing gender norms are found in the way one dresses: trousers were once considered the ‘norm’ for men and not women, but this has changed – it’s considered completely normal and acceptable for women to wear trousers.
Related to gender roles.
Originally published: 7th December, 2020
Last modified: December 7, 2020