How gender is understood and characterized varies widely between socio-political communities.  For example, in religious or conservative communities, these characteristics distinguishing between masculinity and femininity (e.g., biological sex, gender roles and gender identity) are often emphasized as largely innate and natural - such as the pronouncement from LDS prophets, "Gender is an essential characteristic of...eternal identity and purpose" (The Family:  A Proclamation).  In secular and progressive communities, these same characteristics are more often emphasized as tied to socialization in the world around us.  

Although liberal-leaning citizens are sometimes portrayed as paying more attention gender as a key demographic characteristic, it may be more accurate to say that liberal and conservative communities pay attention to gender in fundamentally different ways. On one hand, social and religious conservatives continue to celebrate unique feminine qualities that they believe prepare women uniquely to be nurturing mothers and build complementary relationships with men  in marriage. On the other, liberal and secular communities continue to push back on that narrative - at times de-emphasizing any distinctive characteristics and at other times underscoring the potential of women to the same roles as men. 

Little acknowledged, of course, are wide areas of common ground between various views of gender - such as the value nearly all place on motherhood or the danger of the large trend towards objectifying and commodifying the female body.

See related term gender identity.


The Family:  A Proclamation to the World. The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.