Gender Norms, Values, Identities, and Roles: Mohave vs. Western Society Research Paper

Pages: 3 (1441 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Along with the construction of gender, society imposes certain expectations and norms;

i) There are only two gender categories

ii) Membership in either gender is general

iii) An individual's genitals determine their gender

iv) An individual's gender is invariant

v) The female/male dichotomy is natural

vi) Everyone must belong to one of the two genders; and any exceptions are not to be taken seriously

vii) Permanent inter-gender transfer is not possible

What these norms reinforce is a two sex/gender schema that recognizes two basic categories and a by-the-way 'queer category' catering for anyone who does not fit into the two basic groups (Nanda, 1999). To be considered normal, one simply has to fit into one of the two categories, and any individual born with features that do not clearly place him in either is forced to pick a gender, and stick with it (Nanda, 1999). Inglehart and Baker (2000) point out that such births occur more often than most people think; approximately 4% of the total births in America each year fall into the intersex category. A significant number of intersex individuals have been greatly affected by attempts to fit them into the strict female and male gender categories, just so their families would be saved from the social stigma of being associated with a hermaphrodite (Inglehart & Baker, 2000).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Gender Norms, Values, Identities, and Roles: Mohave vs. Western Society Assignment

David Reimer is a perfect case of an intersex individual who underwent a lifetime of difficulty after a failed 'corrective attempt'. He was born with both male and female features, and named Bruce, but had his testicles removed at the age of 21 months and was brought up as a girl under the name Brenda (Nanda, 1999). However, the child could simply not act as a girl, and since 'her' development was slower than that of 'her' classmates, Brenda was held in first grade for years (Nanda, 1999). In puberty, contrary to her female age-mates, Brenda developed broad shoulders and a thick neck; the stigma was so much that she attempted suicide three times before finally undergoing a mastectomy and corrective surgery, and renaming himself David. He married, and adopted two children, but the wife later left on the basis that David could not give her own children. David eventually committed suicide.

Possible Reason for the Observed Cultural Differences

Charles Darwin has a lot to do with the way westerners interact with, and treat ambiguities (Harvey, 2013). This sex/gender schema based on only two basic categories rides on a sex-based division of labor; males are thought to be aggressive and strong, and women, more passive and nurturing (Harvey, 2013). People are treated on the basis of some 'common sense lens' and rewarded for acting in line with what society expects of their gender. This makes it difficult for westerners to make sense of ambiguities; they do not know exactly how an intersex would be expected to behave, and exactly when to reward or punish them for deviating from 'the norm'.


There is no doubt that the native tribes understood the concept of diversity more than we, westerners, do. An individual's inclination or sexual orientation is purely natural, and hence totally out of their control. If everyone understood this, like the native tribes did, intersex individuals and homosexuals would not have to go through the social stigma they go through today. However, the enactment of laws and rights such as the International Bill of Gender Rights are a positive indication that the western world is slowly moving towards an environment that is more accepting of ambiguity.


Eskridge Jr., W.N. (1993). A History of Same-Sex Marriage. Faculty Scholarship Series, Paper 1504. Retrieved 10 June 2014 from

Harvey, M. (2013). A Global Examination of Social Gender and Sexual Norms. Grand Valley State University. Retrieved 10 June 2014 from

Inglehart, R. & Baker, W.E. (2000). Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values. American Sociological Review, 65(1), 19-51.

Martin, C. (2013). The Influence of Negative Educational Experiences on Health Behaviors among Gender Non-Conforming American India/Alaska Native People. Colorado State University Library. Retrieved 10 June 2014 from

Nanda, S. (1999). Neither Man nor Woman: the Hijras of India (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Gender Norms, Values, Identities, and Roles: Mohave vs. Western Society.  (2014, June 16).  Retrieved September 18, 2020, from

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"Gender Norms, Values, Identities, and Roles: Mohave vs. Western Society."  June 16, 2014.  Accessed September 18, 2020.