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In most, if not all societies, there are prescriptions regarding gender roles. The traditions, and sometimes the laws, of a society often direct that certain career choices and lifestyles are appropriate to men, and other career choices and lifestyles are appropriate to women.

In recent years, many people have strongly challenged the social forces that would prevent people from taking on non-traditional gender roles, such as women becoming fighter pilots or men becoming stay-at-home fathers.

Men who defy or fail to fulfill their expected gender role are often called effeminate. In modern western societies, women who fail to fulfill their expected gender roles frequently receive only minor criticism for doing so.

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