In today's world, the previously existent family structures have begun to evolve. The rapidly changing world with aid of technology has resulted in the shift in the traditional outlook of a family. There is a lot of diversity and are quite unusual from old perspective. The family structures commonly observed are normal couples, same-sex couples, single parents, stepfamilies as well as blended families (Rasmussen, Rofes&Talburt, 2016). The diminishing gender gap can be termed as another factor for the shift. A large number of factors such as financial stress, declining birth rates as well changes in definitions are also to be blamed.
Sexulity study exoerts have been able to identify several characteristics related to healthy sexuality. Healthy sexuality can be defined as an individual’s ability to intgratesexulaity in day to day living. It may have attributes such as affection, companionship and tenderness. It is important for people in relationship to know the role of sex in their life. As noted by Ullman (2015), it will be wrong to exaggerate relationship by focusing of sexulaity as it is a natural part of human life. Healthy or natural sexuality often includes an individual’s acceptance of the primal nature of humans as well as the display of positive attitude towards nudity and sexual urges.
Healthy sexuality can be defined as appreciation of individual’s own body in order to seek out knowledge and information in context of reproduction, understanding the effect of physical and sexual development, appropriate interaction with all the genders to develop an understanding as well respect for gender identity and sexual orientation so as the individual can appropriately express their intimacy and emotions that will help in building and sustaining meaningful relationships by avoiding ones that are manipulative and exploitative (Haberland&Rogow, 2015). Health sexuality also has components of communication, acceptance of affection, expression of emotions without any guilt, shame or fear.
Defining normal and healthy has become complicated due to the increasing variance in the sexual behaviour of people as well as due to introduction of variables that influence sexuality such as gender, health or even age. It has been observed in suxuality studies that sexuality in people is influenced by cognitive distractions and performance anxiety. The flexibility of an individual towards sexual behaviours or attitudes has been also discerned as a gender difference that influences healthy sexuality. In words of Szirom (2017). it can be safely stated that the terms normal or healthy for describing an individual’s sexulaity may not be applicable to another.
Gender and sexuality expression
The term gender identity is used for the self perceptions of an individual using their individualistic senses as well as personal experiences in context of gender. Hence gender identity is an individualistic thing. Normally the society is gender binary as it only accepts two genders namely male and female (Joneet al. 2016). However, it is now fair knowledge that people can identify themselves as both genders or as neither of the genders. They may also choose to be between genders. Gender is not the birth assigned sex of an individual person and can evolve and change over period of time.
The gender or sexuality expression is used for describing the outward appearance donned by an individual to display their sexual orientation or gender identity. This normally includes changes in physical expressions such as hairstyle, clothing, makeup as well as social expressions. It should be stated that gender expression is not equivalent to gender identity. As noted by Ferfolja (2015), in order to deal with factors like social taboo, phobias, childhood influences as well as genetic predetermination, the expressions are subjected to change from individual to individual. Sexual identity is what an individual believes,feels and response.
Sexuality can be understood by understanding the way in which a person has been socialised, acculturated and sexalised. It can be also defined as the total sum of the intimate encounters as well as relations of the person. The shaping of sexulaity is often associated with values as well as beliefs. It is also influenced by the societal expectations, individual sexual characteristics as well as physical attributes (Robinson et al. 2014). Sexulaity is expressed in the ways a person speaks or dresses or smiles. It is quite understandable that in present day and age it is necessary to understand sexulity as a whole and not just sex to develop and maintain good relations with people.
Impact of stereotypes on young minds
The gender stereotypes such as homophobia, heterosexism or transphobia are culturally ingrained within a person. It is influenced by expectations pertaining to appropriate behaviour of females as well as males. As observed by Ullman (2017), apart from the major phobias, narrow gender stereotypes also exist in the society such as men do not cry or that females should be submissive. As a result the younger generation of global citizens have begun accepting stereotypes as societal facts. The rigidity in phobias and stereotypes has resulted in growing inequity among the different genders which makes these young individuals to accept as well as expect the gender related power imbalances.
Such an outlook has been responsible growing gender hate crimes most of l=which largely go unreported due to social stigmatisation and fear. This has led to depraved situations when individuals start believing that exerting control over another person cannot be considered as violence. This has led to belief that abuse cannot occur in healthy relationship (Ollis, 2016). People have started to believe that sexual harassment on street is not a serious offence. Majority of males are under the impression that women should stop being progressive.
It is time to be critical of the way gender identity and sexual expression have been stereotyped by the education system and media. It not only impact the hopes as well as aspirations of the children but also inhibit them from exploring or developing their interests due to such phobias which in turn will result in inability to reach true potential. As pointed out by Bartholomaeus, Riggs & Andrew (2017), children coming in grasp with their own sexulaity often suffer from issues like increased substance abuse, suicides, exposure to violence to ame a few. There is a lot of stigma towards a boy who acts as a girl but not the other way round where a girl showing masculine traits have greater peer as well as parental acceptance.
Deconstructing negative ideologies
In order to deconstruct the existing negative ideologies it is necessary to make people aware of the messages that have been known to promote inequality as well as double standards in context of gender in community. The young generation needs to be supported by providing them the facts about gender identity and expression so as they can be able to distinguish it from the fiction that the mass media has been spreading rampantly (Shannon & Smith, 2015). From the point of view of teachers, parents, guides and mentors it is necessary to support the youngsters to understand the effect of stereotyping on their roles in school, family and society so as they develop realistic expectations relating to the future relationships that it should be based on equity as well as mutual respect.
It was observed that young people start understanding the gender roles accepted by the culture as well as the associated power dynamics from a very young age. However, it is very much evident that when people accept these wrong notions and stereotypes, it impacts not only their behaviour but also their choices. Hence, as pointed out by Martino & Cumming-Potvin (2015), it is necessary to undertake conversations that will help in identifying the prevalent gender stereotypes under the guidance of an understanding adult who will be able to provide assistance in understanding the influence of such stereotypes on relationship, decision making as well as personal identity.
Children have always been influenced by their parents and its necessary for parents to be mentors and ensure that they praise an individual equally irrespective of the gender which will help in encouraging the children to overcome the gender barrier (Ullman &Ferfjola, 2015). Critically assessing and discussing gendered representations is also very crucial to avoid misinterpretation of gender specific language.
Negative behaviours reinforcing stereotypes and phobias
The most common and prevalent mode of influencing people of the acceptable roles in gender along with stereotypes is either social network, television or other forms of the media. As noted by Ferfjola&Stavrou (2015), children are easily impressionable and this means that they are susceptible to print media like newspapers and magazines, visual media such as social networking platforms, video games, music videos and lastly audio media which nowadays are filled with explicit and derogatory lyrics that presents a narrow representation of the men as well as the women. Hence, it can be conclusively said that the modern day gender divide is handiwork of the media.
In the society an individual will be influence by the segregation of roles and responsibilities of genders that are shared within home as well as in society. The children are exposed to colors and themes that have been stereotyped fo a gender. Level of intimacy and family interactions which are part of decision making is also known for reinforcing the stereotypes. Placing gender specific expectations on family members can inculcate the wrong views on gender identity and sexual expression (Gray, Harris & Jones, 2016). The language used to define the attributes or activities of an individual's work is one of the most basic reason why there have been conflicts.
As it can be clearly inferred, the family and society play a large part in strengthening the existing stereotypes. This is complemented by the media which tries to find gender in disputes, debates, arguments and entertainment which should not be even present to begin with. It is acceptable for parents when their little children start crossing the gender related boundaries. However, according to Harrison &Ollis (2015), when the specific action or behavior has been identified to define a particular gender interest, a person will conform to these stereotypes in fear of being ostracised.
Developing respectful behaviour in regards to sexual as well as gender diversity
It will be only possible to make sexual and gender diversity socially inclusive when in a society all the people are free to openly as well as visibly uphold their gender identity and sexual orientation without being insecure or fearing violation of individual freedom. The society guarantees social status as well as participation in context of their preferences. Presently gender minor groups such as lesbians, gays, transgenders, transsexuals, interesexed, bisexual, and queers have been able to raise their issues and their questions about sexuality and gender are not only being recognised but also accommodated after validation (Blackmore, 2017).
The society needs to progress in order to fully recognise as well as accept the gender as well as sexuality as personal traits and characteristics. This will help the people to feel at ease to become embodiment of the traits that have been vociferously termed as masculine or feminine. As pointed out by Sundaram&Sauntson (2016), the society needs to understand that the it is okay to portray these masculine or feminine side using appearance, behaviour and personality. This will help in building a society where equal importance as well as values have been assigned to these particular traits.
In schools and educational institutes it should be mandatory to include the LGBTQ.individuals when the situation arises so that they are able to grasp the entirety of their gender identity and realize the full potential. Such encouragement will help to make way for such stereotyped students to take up this as a platform to embrace themselves and have fun (Goldman &Grimbeek, 2015). The family members of such individuals will be unburdened by the fact that the students will be enjoy social acknowledgement and become accepted at the school and will not be subjected to physical or mental abuse for their choices.
Over the last few decades there has been a surging interest in areas such as sexulaity, domestice violence as well as inequalities because of gender all around the world. This is because of growing frequency of gender based violence. The myriad of topics ranging from the male and female perspective of sexuality is changing in response to the changing scenario of power dynamics, gender roles and violence. According to Rousso (2015), this is the reason why several of the complex topics like of sexuality and gender have been partially understood. This is why it is necessary to undertake classes discussing these issues to young learners to make society more inclusive and stereotype free.
It is necessary to acknowledge that there exist a very huge amount of variation in the attitudes as well as practices in context of sexuality or gender across the globe as well as within the countries themselves (Pang & Soong, 2016). It can be clearly observed that the current society is a patriarchal society and men are made to feel driven in order to prove their masculine orientation both physically as well as sexually. There have been skewed views on the topic of relationship power dynamics that has been reinforced by the media and society is to be blamed for the growing gender disparity.
Socio economic as well as work experiences have been known to drive the sexual attitudes of the people. It can be said that the concept of birthright gender can be decoupled from the behaviour of taking risk in sexual context. As observed by Shelton & Barnes (2016), it is necessary to set up interventions that offers basic sex education as well as skills to not only men but also women to reduce the growing gender and sexual disparity in the community.
It can be inferred that sexual stereotype has been used since many centuries to infer sexual orientation and gender identity. The broader cultural notion is also to be blamed that makes people unaware of their behaviour and choices when dealing with issues of sexual orientation. Stereotyping is the association of two totally different concepts of society that cannot be used for defining the other (Jones, Gray & Harris, 2014). Stereotypes are triggered automatically and general public is always aware how the existing stereotype inform the inferences. People talk about special intuition in matters of sexual orientation or gender identity which is nothing but intuition that aids in making judgements about an individual.
It is assumed that homosexual individuals need to possess common essence that can be used by the society to differentiate them against the heterosexual individuals and at the same time highlight their orientation and preference. Gender and sexual stereotypes have been used to discern sexual orientation. In words of Bartholomaeus, Riggs & Andrew (2016), stereotypic cues have been utilised in private has only encouraged the perpetrators of prejudice to become free from social condemnation which in turn has been exploited for yielding even higher levels of aggression based on prejudice. Hence, it can be safe to assume that stereotypes not only influence inference of orientation but is also responsible for promoting discrimination and aggression on the basis of the conclusion drawn.
Stereotypes by definition is making use of narrow thinking. They not only support oppressors in their activities like bullying, taunting or physically abusing but also leads to social discrimination. These stereotypes have been responsible for promoting beliefs of restrictive nature that act as constraints to any opportunity. However, cultural and mental stereotypes does not proclaim someone to be wrong (Rasmussen, Rofes&Talburt, 2016). It is time for the society to stop judging people and forcing them to live in a pressurised existence due to stereotype and start treating people as individuals and making merit based judgements.
One of the actions that can be future actions that can be undertaken by a teacher is to use the vacations to develop and plan curricular unit that can be collaborated with the colleagues in order to bring about knowledge necessary for educating the students as well as the school communities of gender and sexuality related issues. These curriculums need to depict positive non discrimination examples and also show the importance of respecting human rights in private as well as public life (Ullman, 2015). The curriculum activities needs to address the individuals as equal and in a non-stereotypical manner to respect their dignity.
As members of the society it is also very vital to enforce the ideas of equity based on gender, sex, sexual identity, gender expression as well as orientation on the mass media houses in order to eliminate sexism and gender-phobia. As noted by Gray, Harris & Jones (2016), the media houses need to make an effort at least to eliminate social prejudices and stereotypes like homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. This can be done by making use of public forums on various issues like sexual violence, sexual orientation, gender based abuse and discrimination. This will not only help the media to understand the consequences of discrimination and violence on the victims but will also assist the media to minimise the harmful consequences to the general society.
As teachers, it is necessary to reflect on self practices and beliefs in order to have a tete-a-tete with the students about sexual and gender diversity. It is necessary for teachers to educate themselves about sex, gender identity and sexual orientation in order to identify means to challenge the existing norms in the society. As a teacher, the person needs to refrain from using stereotypes in class as jokes or in any part of the conversation (Sundaram&Sauntson, 2016). It will be helpful to use gender sensitive language without making inferences on sexual orientations in order to create a positive atmosphere where the students can feel supported by their non judgemental, open and respectful teachers so as they can disclose their views, opinions and problems without feeling guilt.
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