Traditional Gender Roles – Should We Be Conforming or Not?

An old friend and I were just chatting about how I have always been a bit of a rebel, in the sense that I don’t like being told what I am supposed to do or what I am capable of. However, I like to refer to myself as more of a non-conformist. On some issues like traditional gender roles, you might be as well.

 

 

I would classify traditional gender roles as a form of homogeneity. The term refers to something being the same. Have you ever heard someone say, “Well that’s just the ways things are.”, or “Oh well, what are ya going to do about it?” That is homogeneity and despite its forward thinking, our society accepts it all the time. As if we don’t have the power to change things.

 

Men and women have countless differences beyond genetics, such as personality and characteristics. Women are naturally more adaptable, giving, nurturing and patient. While these characteristics can be seen as positive ones, they are more often than not used against us, effectively labeling us the weaker sex. This paints us as less capable or worthy than men. This is most likely due to the fact that since the beginning of time, women have been made to conform. Traditionally, women are expected to follow certain guidelines. Find a man (preferably a wealthy one), get married, have babies, take care of both husband and children, and then die.

 

I remember learning about Native Americans in elementary school and hearing that women were responsible for taking care of the home and children. I specifically recall “berry picking and basket weaving” being a female responsibility and thinking even at six years old, “Why can’t the women go out and do the same things that the men were doing?”

 

 

I have dated guys that expected the woman they end up with to be a stay-at-home mother. And let me just say, those relationships didn’t last long. They expected their wife to have no career but take care of the house and children at all times. This may sound like a dream come true for some women. I have a ton of girlfriends who can’t wait to settle down, get married and have babies. Although I respect this desire, I also have to question, don’t we want more? We have the potential to do and be anything we want. We should be taking advantage of all the power and freedom we have, while fighting to expand that power and freedom.

 

 

Women have made revolutionary steps leading us to where we are today. Women are successful entrepreneurs, doctors, astronauts, musicians, you name it. We have a larger percentage of women representing us in government than ever before. We don’t think much of it today but one hundred years ago, it was nearly unheard of for women to have a job of any kind.

 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a movie fanatic. I recently got into period piece movies. In most of these stories, it becomes crucial for the woman to find a husband to secure her future and in some cases produce an heir… or else. It’s quite frustrating to watch these female characters struggle with having no choice in their own lives.

 

Another example comes from the television show Sex and the City. A classic as well as a personal favorite, and not just because of the fashion and Mr. Big. The four women in this show represent the female population in true light. Ground-breaking and often times taboo topics are discussed. In this episode, dating out of your “class” was discussed between the women. Miranda was dating this guy who she’s crazy about, however he is just a bartender while she is a successful lawyer. The difference in salary creates a rift between the two and ultimately cause them to break up. Money and class rarely make a difference between a couple when the man is making more money. So why should it be any different when the roles are reversed?

 

 

I think traditional gender roles come into play in situations like these. We are so used to men being more successful and powerful, but when a woman is more successful or powerful, we can’t be proud of it and are even punished for it like Miranda was. Doing good and making something of ourselves should never be shameful.

 

Obviously, this is much less of an issue in today’s society than it would have been in 1950, but we should be aware of the fact that women are still expected to fall into line and play into these roles.

 

Often times we are made to feel like we should choose between having a successful career and being and wife and mother. However, the beauty of it is that as women, we don’t have to choose. We have not only proven that doing both is possible that that doing them both fabulously is.

 

Whether or not you conform and to what degree is ultimately up to you. Whatever you decide, be proud of it. We have liberation to choose for ourselves how we will live our lives. Just make sure whatever life you are living makes you happy.

 

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