|Where Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)|
|Chapter 12: Sexual Health|
|Sex and Gender Roles|
Each person is born with either a girls body or a boys body. These physical differences determine a persons sex, which does not change overtime.
A persons gender role refers to the way a community defines what it is to be a woman or a man. Each community expects women and men to think, feel, and act in certain ways, simply because they are women or men. In most communities, for example, women are expected to prepare food, gather water and fuel, and care for their children and partner. Men, however, are often expected to work outside the home to provide for their families and parents in old age, and to defend their families from harm.
Unlike the physical differences between men and women, gender roles and the activities associated with them are created by the community. Some activities, like preparing food and caring for children, are considered womens activities in many communities. But others vary from place to place - depending on a communitys traditions, laws, and religions. Gender roles can even vary within communities, based on how much education a person has, her race, or her age. For example, in some communities women of a certain race are expected to do domestic work, while other women have more choice about the jobs they hold.