Discuss how rigid gender expectations from society may become oppressive

Discuss the way in which rigid gender expectations from society may become oppressive for both men and women.

In the contemporary Canadian society, most issues related to sex education begin in high school where children learn what it means to be a girl or a boy. It is through these socialization processes that they learn enforced and rigid expectations about how they are to behave in the society based on their gender status. These expectations often have a negative effect on men and women who do not ascribe to the rigid gender expectations of masculinity and femininity as defined by the society (Butler, 2012). For such individuals, they will begin perceiving themselves as abnormal or deviant to the extent that their behavior is violent or unique compared to the behavior of other normal children.

When children, at relatively younger ages, demonstrate their desire to challenge masculine and feminine norms, they risk exposure to violence, stressful life and increased risk of substance abuse because they lack the necessary guidance on how they can manage their other gender orientation. Canada is a male-dominated society (Zawilski & Levine-Rasky, 2005). This means that through the traditional socialization processes members of the society to adopt the perception that men are the dominant sex who is supposed to express the attributes of independence and bravery. This results in the depiction of women as relatively inferior and fragile beings who desire protection from the men (Brym & Lie, 2010). These are rigid perceptions because children from their early childhood are introduced to the ideas, which are reinforced by learning institutions, parents, and the media. When they are in their puberty stages, their physical and psychological development processes necessitate the reinforcement to conforming to the hegemonic sex-typed identities and roles. This results in the development of individuals in the society who do not have the freedom to perceive things on his or her own (Connell, 2014). For the transgender and the homosexuals, they perceive themselves as outcasts in the society because their sexual identities do not conform to the expectations of the society.

The effect of these rigid gender expectations are confusion at different levels of the society. This is because while the non-deviant individuals have the freedom of accessing different opportunities in the society, transgender, and homosexuals find their mobility and access to different opportunities restricted (Butler, 2012). As they enter the adolescent stage, these individuals embrace silence and modesty as the most desirable values to avoid antagonizing the established systems in the society (Brym & Lie, 2010). This phenomenon may result in a plethora of cascading cultural perceptions considering that the transgender and homosexuals would choose to live in denial of their identities.

Other than the underlying effects of rigid gender roles on transgender and homosexual individuals, the underlying expectations when boys and girls reach the puberty stage generates the idea that the intention of the society ids to prevent them from engaging in sexual relations (Brym & Lie, 2010). This perception introduces gender-related divide on issues of sexuality considering that it turns girls into potential targets while boys are perceived as predators. According to Connell (2014), the socialization process at this stage is characterized by messages that define the sitting posture, types of clothes that can be worn hence promoting gender divisions of power while promoting sex segregation with the objective of protecting the sexuality of the girl child.

The overprotective attitude developed by the society when focusing on the females introduces the concept of purity and the desire to uphold chastity. Most families are often concerned with the fear of losing their honor if a female member is perceived to be more social with the male population (Connell, 2014). This is because of the suspicion that such an individual may be initiating romantic relationships with the men hence tainting the family name (Brym & Lie, 2010). Such families fail to realize the possibility that their child may be expressing male related attributes yet she forcefully and unwillingly subscribes to the existing dictates that define female behavior (Butler, 2012). The danger of such rigid gender roles is that it denies a child who is priced to be sexually deviant the opportunity of exploring and developing based on her gender orientation.

It is important to scrutinize the traditional male and female roles in committed relationships. This is based on the realization that whether in gay or straight relationships aspects that were once the established status quo of the female as supportive and adaptive and the males as protective and dominant are in the process of transitioning. The realization of the negative effects of these rigid gender roles have resulted in the development of straight, gay and lesbian relationships with the objective of developing a new kind of intimacy. This is based on the realization that through flexible approaches to ascribing gender roles, it is possible to develop intimate relations in which both genders are perceived as equally capable of providing leadership and supportive roles using varied methodologies. The process of revising the rigid gender roles are also evidence that none of the partners in these relationships want the consistent responsibility of controlling and making decisions. Instead, they are choosing to encourage the most competent party to lead in different situations.

Choose one national minority (French Canada, First nations) or an immigrant group that has suffered due to religious discrimination in Canada and discuss the consequences of the discriminatory practices against this specific group both for the group itself as well as for the whole of Canada.

From an ideal perspective, the role of religion is to provide believers with a platform for communicating to the supernatural beings who they believe are responsible for overseeing the daily activities that characterize human life on earth (O’Halloran, 2017). In addition, it is through religion that the society has been successful in its desire to disseminate expected moral values and norms (Beaman, 2012). These define behavior and relationships among different members of the society. Religious discrimination is a form of prejudice against a religion based on the desire by one religious group to gain dominance over the other. Historically in the Canadian context, Radford (2011) argues that the arrival of the European colonizers and their desire to establish permanent settlements in Canada marked the beginning of religious discrimination against the indigenous First Nations Peoples. Initially, the relationship between the Europeans colonizers and the First Nations Peoples focused on commerce instead of religious conversion. However, by the 1600s, these European settlers noticed the dominance of native spirituality and the desire to eradicate this superiority led the Franco-European Settlers to shift their focus from trading commodities to the imposition cultural values on the Canadian religious landscape.

According to Beaman (2012), the arrival of the European colonizers in Canada was defined by rivalry, acrimony, and conflicts among different religious denominations. The European Christians, majorly Roman Catholics, were working with the objective of eradicating First nations People’s spiritualties. This was based on the assumption that each religion perceived itself to be having the monopoly of the truth and all the others were in error. The Europeans considered their religions to be dominant compared to that of the first nations people hence the need to intensify their evangelical efforts.

The Europeans considered the first nations peoples spirituality to be inferior because they did not have a religious point of reference such as the Bible to ascertain their religious doctrines. Instead, their practices were based on values that were passed down to different generations by word of mouth. Furthermore, for the European colonizers, indigenous religious practices were imperfect because they did not have any authority from God (O’Halloran, 2017). This implies that for these communities they were less civilized and it was important for the Europeans to use evangelical approaches as techniques of introducing them to perceived civilization (O’Halloran, 2017). Initially, the Europeans faced resistance and this led them to introduce force and different aspects of torture as a means of encouraging the indigenous communities to accept their assimilation into Christianity.

The desire to eradicate the religious practices of the indigenous population in Canada can be considered as a major contributor to the popularity of Christian faith in Canada. Despite their popularity, the Canadian society is an example of a society with heightened religious discrimination against not only indigenous communities but also other minority religious groups such as Muslims (Bramadat & Seljak, 2012). The ideology that Christianity is the most superior religion based on its historic dominance in Canada facilitates the progression of this discrimination. Furthermore, increased levels of religious intolerance and the stereotypical connotations that developed among members of the society throughout history have become a characteristic of Canadian community. It has become relatively difficult for the Canadian government to unify the society based on their religious denominations because each religious desires to assert its domains within the community (Bramadat & Seljak, 2012). Religious organizations have however initiated processes aimed at improving the levels of religious tolerance and minimizing the possible effects of religious conflicts in the Canadian society.

Throughout history, the Canadian First Nations communities have been subjected to different forms of abuses based on their religion. When the Europeans came to Canada and shifted their focus from trade relations to evangelism, the Canadian First Nations, which were in opposition of the evangelical objectives of the Europeans, saw their lands seized, their identity suppressed and their cultures undermined. One of the greatest abuses against the religious and cultural practices of Canada’s First Nations was the introduction of the Indian Residential School system. This strategy was used by the Europeans to steal children away from their families with the objective of assimilating them into the European culture because it was considered as dominant. This was an act of religious discrimination whose effects are still present in the contemporary Canadian society. This is because it resulted in the development of children from indigenous Canadian communities who do not understand the underlying cultural norms and values that define their religious or social practices (Bramadat & Seljak, 2012). By undermining their religious practices, the European settlers contributed to the eradication of the values that defined the lives of Canada’s first nations.

During the colonial years, O’Halloran (2017) asserts that the objective of the European settlers was to introduce Canada’s first nations to civilization through assimilation. However, these processes resulted in religious discrimination, which was defined by undermining the identity and cultural practices of these communities. An effect of this discrimination includes limited pride among the indigenous community about the essence of their religious practices in developing their lives. It also denies them the opportunity of advocating from their rights and freedom to worship.


Beaman, L. G. (2012). Religion and Canadian society: Contexts, identities, and strategies. Toronto: CSPI.

Bramadat, P., & Seljak, D. (2012). Christianity and ethnicity in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Brym, R. J., & Lie, J. (2010). Sociology: Your compass for a new world, the brief edition. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Butler, L. (2012). Diversity and conformity: The role of gender. In Angelini, P. U. (Ed.) Our society: Human diversity in Canada, 4th Edition (pp. 217-240). Toronto: Nelson Education.

Connell, R. W. (2014). Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. John Wiley & Sons.

O’Halloran, K. (2017). Religious Discrimination and Cultural Context: A Common Law Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Radford, M. A. (2011). Religion as Meaning and the Canadian Context. In Angelini, P. U. (Ed.) Our society: Human diversity in Canada, 4th Edition (pp. 159-195). Toronto: Nelson Education.

Zawilski, V. S.-E., & Levine-Rasky, C. (2005). Inequality in Canada: A reader on the intersections of gender, race, and class. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.