Our societal teachings provide every person with the basis for how they perceive themselves and others. These perceptions cover the gamut of possibilities but for the sake of this particular article we will be discussing sexual interactions and gender role. Gender is an oft times confusing term because some feel it refers to ones sexual proclivities while others feel that it refers to the divergent stereotypical expectations in behavior of human females and males.
The most widely accepted notion these days is that gender doesn't specifically refer to ones anatomy but to ones aspects of socialization, or societal teachings. And gender role is therefore the product of human creation not of genetic disposition. Societal teachings decrees-at least in most developed countries of the world-that those who have been born as males should exhibit certain characteristics while those born as female should display different but no less distinctive characteristics in order to be gender appropriate.
Men are expected to act as though they are men. And in this society we all know what that means. They are expected to be well-muscled, physically fit, in other words they are treated more roughly as they grow up in an attempt to create a strong, masculine physique and mental attitude. Women on the other hand are taught to be soft and submissive, encouraged to like frilly, lacy soft things while men are discouraged from having anything to do with women's work, for example housework, sewing etc.
While the stereotyping is beginning to fade into the distant past there are still many areas of the world that still subscribe to these antiquated notions and those that choose not to conform are ostracized in many ways. They can be ostracized by being thrown out of their town, by having people treat in a derogatory way or by actual punishment meted out by a judicial system. There have been many well publicized instances of such punishments portrayed in both fiction and real life scenarios.
Sexuality is one of humankind's most overwhelming preoccupations. It is seen as a means of procreation, as a means of pleasure, as a means of control and as means of celebration and as a means of reward. Much import is attached to the perceived gender of individuals with the standards by which that perceived gender is judged being a direct result of societal teachings. So much of how we think, act and judge is the result of societal teachings that are the result, whether we wish to think of them as originating in some spiritual zone or not, from human desires and perceptions of how things should be.
While much of what we say, how we act, and dress is the result of religious decrees the end result is that these have been at the very least filtered through the human editorial mind and as such subject to interpretation the result being a slightly skewed version of the original. The more times the interpretation occurs the more skewed and obscured the version tends to become. Societal teachings while based on sound judgments of the time may have become outdated and in need of restructuring.
This doesn't mean they are bad, or that those who first put them forward as the beginning and the end all were flawed in any way. It merely means that times have changed and with that some of the societal teachings of old might need to be amended in order to be as effective as they once were.