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Gender (how you behave as a male or female)

gender; male; female; tradition; culture; peer pressure; society; sex; stereotypes; media; family. ;


What you see around you

Where you live in the world, what your cultural background is and what people in your family and in your friendship groups do, have a big influence on how you behave as a male or female in your society.

In some cultures men and women have very strict expectations placed on them as to how they should behave.

In other cultures their roles could be entirely different, eg in some cultures men would go out to work but women would be expected to stay in the home; some jobs could be seen as jobs for men or jobs for women only, clothing for men and women could be entirely different or 'unisex’' (can be worn by male or female.)

What you see in your family

  • Families could have very different roles for men and women.
  • Your own family may have its own traditions and expectations of the way males and females should behave.
  • Nowadays people are able to see, hear and read about other people and their lives every day.
  • Ideas are changing and young people are learning that they have many choices.
  • In many families both partners work outside the home.
  • In many homes all household chores are shared by male and female adults and children.

What you see in the media


Many young people watch ‘soapies’ about families and high school students.

It is important to understand that these are stories written to entertain, not to inform. The actors themselves are often much older than the characters they play.

The media often presents people in a certain way:

  • a mother doing the washing
  • a father mowing the lawn
  • tall thin female models
  • tanned, muscular male lifesavers
  • gay men and women behaving and dressing in an outrageous way.

These are called 'stereotypes'.

What you see in yourself

Do you think only mothers do the washing, only fathers mow the lawn, only tall thin females and tanned muscular males are attractive and that only gay people dress and behave in a way that makes people notice them???? No! I didn't think so.

Are all males strong, brave and sporty and all females weak and 'girly'? Of course not!

multi-cultural groupThe male and female roles in our society have changed. It is accepted that both sexes have 'male' and 'female' traits. It's OK for females to fix cars and for males to stay home and look after the kids.

You don't need to fit the media stereotype, YOU ARE YOU - remember you are a completely unique and wonderful person - thanks to your genes (not the denim sort).  

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim

"Every person in the world is important and different to everyone else.

You can choose to be and to do what you feel is right for you and acceptable in the place where you live."

There have always been females who are attracted to other females (lesbian), and males who are attracted to males (gay) but this has not always been accepted by their society. In Australia and many other countries this is now recognised and accepted by most people, but in some countries this is still not accepted and people may have to hide their feelings because they could be punished for being gay or lesbian. 

Some people strongly believe that their body does not match up with how they feel about their gender - their body may be 'male' but they feel that they are actually 'female', or vice versa (transgender).

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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