Social gender theory is a term that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is a concept that seeks to understand the social, cultural, and historical factors that influence our understanding of gender. This theory recognizes that gender is not just a biological characteristic but also a social construct shaped by societal norms, beliefs, and expectations.

What Is Gender?

Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate for men and women. It encompasses the expectations placed on individuals based on their sex, such as masculinity for males and femininity for females. Gender also includes other aspects like sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

The Origins of Social Gender Theory

The social gender theory emerged in the 1960s and 70s as part of the broader feminist movement. Feminist scholars challenged traditional views of gender as biological or natural, arguing instead that it was socially constructed. They argued that society creates gender roles through socialization processes based on norms and values.

Social gender theory has since evolved to include other perspectives beyond feminism. For example, queer theory highlights how sexuality intersects with gender to shape people’s experiences and identities.

Key Concepts in Social Gender Theory

One of the key concepts in social gender theory is gender performativity. This term refers to the idea that individuals “perform” their gender by conforming to societal expectations of what it means to be male or female. These performances are not fixed or innate but rather are constantly negotiated based on context.

Another important concept is intersectionality. This refers to the ways in which different aspects of identity intersect to create unique experiences of oppression or privilege. For example, a black woman may experience discrimination based on both her race and her gender.

Implications of Social Gender Theory

Social gender theory has significant implications for how we think about equality and social justice. By recognizing that gender is a social construct, we can challenge traditional gender roles and expectations that limit individuals’ potential. It also allows for greater acceptance of diversity in gender identities and expressions.


In conclusion, social gender theory provides a critical lens through which to view our understanding of gender. It recognizes that gender is not fixed or innate but rather shaped by societal norms and expectations. By challenging these norms, we can create more inclusive and equitable societies for all individuals regardless of their gender identity or expression.