The English dictionary defines gender as a word that is commonly used to refer to the quality of a human being either masculine or feminine. However, the word gender in modern times is used to refer to the debate on the role of both male and female members of society. In the past years the roles of both men and women were clearly defined with the men being the breadwinners while the women were the care providers for both the children and the men who were their husbands.
Why I want a wife
However, with the structure of society having changed so drastically in the past few years, the clear line that defined the role of both men and women has now been blurred as their roles have overlapped with time. It is no longer sufficient to classify the male gender as the provider for the family or the female gender as the caregiver for the family. The definition of both male and female sexes is no longer clear with members of both sexes performing roles that were initially reserved for the other gender. Men are no longer the sole providers for their families as women have been economically empowered and are now running big companies competing with their male counterparts. Women are also not the sole caregivers for their children as more men are now opting to become stay at home dads so that they can take care of their children.
What are men good for?
The primary role reserved for men as providers was the defining role that has been the guiding principle in society with regard to what society expects of the male population. However, this role has been usurped by women in modern society who now work and also provide for their families. The time for women to stay at home while their men go to work is long past as women hold top positions in many big organizations worldwide. Women have proven themselves as able workers who are able to deliver at the workplace and in many cases have even performed better than men in positions such as customer service representatives and even as secretaries. However, the transformation of women from housewives into corporate leaders has not been without struggle as women have had to fight for their position in society as equals with men. The initial discrimination they faced in past decades as most employers preferred male employees to women has been eroded through a fighting spirit and determination to prove to society that they too can work. In the current society we have many women who have top leadership positions in big corporations, and these companies have succeeded even under female leadership tom prove that women are just as good as men if not better.
In the past it was the role of the women to be the primary caregiver to the children, who also included taking care of their husbands, however, this role, is no longer reserved for women as more men choose to become stay-at-home dads so that they can care for their children. These men who stay home and take care of their children take on a role that has been shunned by men for centuries as it was believed that men did not possess the quality of nurture. It was strongly believed that only women could nurture children, especially during their formative years when they are fully dependent on their care givers. However, many men are now taking over the role of nurturing their children and research indicates that they are excelling at this role. This means that men too can nurture a young child and give it the same care that a woman would give to the same child. Although men may not be able to breastfeed a child, which was the main reason that most of society believed that only women could care for infants, they can provide care in many other ways. It is now evident that men too can nurture a young child as the primary caregiver and that this role is not only reserved for women, which is another changing face of gender.
A third role that was designated for women was that they were supposed to be subservient to men, attending to all the needs of their husbands and supporting them. This role included things such as washing their husband’s clothes, cooking for their husbands, cleaning the house as well as washing the children’s clothes. It was clearly defined that the husband had executive power in the household and that his every wish was to be obeyed without question. However, this power has shifted greatly in recent years as women no longer have the lesser role in relationships, but are considered as equals with men. Most relationships are nowadays extremely consultative where the opinions of both partners carry equal weight and no partner has authority over the other partner. Men are no longer the masters while women are relegated to being their servants, in many situations, men will be found carrying out some of the chores such as cleaning the house or even doing the laundry.
Why is it so hard for men and women?
In conclusion, it is clear that the roles of both the female and the male gender in society are changing significantly as has been demonstrated above. Men are no longer the sole providers as more women are now working and have top leadership positions in major companies, which mean that women are also acting as providers for their families. It is also clear that women are no longer the sole caregivers for their children as more men are choosing to become stay at home dads so that they can take care of their children. It is clear now that the definition of gender has evolved greatly over time.
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Gender roles are separate patterns of personality traits, mannerisms, interests, attitudes, and behaviors that are regarded as either "male" or "female" by one's culture. Gender roles are largely a product of the way in which one was raised and may not be in conformance with one's gender identity. Research shows that both genetics and environment influence the development of gender roles. As society changes, its gender roles often also change to meet the needs of the society. To this end, it has been suggested that androgynous gender roles in which both females and males are expected to display either expressive (emotion-oriented) or instrumental (goal-oriented) behaviors as called for by the situation may be better for both the individual and the society in many ways. However, this is not to say that traditional roles, reversed roles, or anything in between are inherently bad. More research is needed to better understand the influences of genetics and environment on the acquisition of gender roles and the ways in which different types of gender roles support the stability and growth of society.
Keywords Androgyny; Culture; Dyad; Gender; Gender Identity; Gender Role; Gender Stereotype; Norms; Sex; Socialization; Society; Subject; Twin Study
Gender roles have changed in many ways throughout history as well as within recent memory. In the 1950s, for example, little girls were said to be made of "sugar and spice and everything nice" and wore pastel organdy dresses and gloves to church. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, this all changed for many women; bras were discarded, and patched jeans became de rigueur. In fact, each succeeding generation has brought with it differing expectations for how men and women should act within society. Despite these changes, however, the truth is that modern society still has expectations for how men and women are to act. Although we may be more open to exceptions than were past generations, there still are expected norms of behavior for women and men in society.
Gender vs. Sex
In biosocial terms, gender is not the same as sex. Gender refers to the psychological, social, cultural, and behavioral characteristics associated with being female or male. Gender is defined by one's gender identity and learned gender role. Sex, on the other hand, refers in this context to the biological aspects of being either female or male. Genetically, females are identified by having two X chromosomes and males by having an X and a Y chromosome. In addition, sex can typically be determined from either primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Primary sexual characteristics comprise the female or male reproductive organs (i.e., the vagina, ovaries, and uterus for females and the penis, testes, and scrotum for males). Secondary sexual characteristics comprise the superficial differences between the sexes that occur with puberty (e.g., breast development and hip broadening for women and facial hair and voice deepening for men).
Biology as Gender Role Determinant
It is relatively easy to see that biology has an impact on gender and the subsequent actions and behaviors that are thought to be more relevant to either females or males. For example, no matter how much a man might want to experience giving birth, the simple fact is that he cannot, except as an observer. From this fact it is easy (if not necessarily logical) to assume that biology is destiny and, therefore, women and men have certain unalterable roles in society—for example, that women are the keepers of home and hearth because of their reproductive role, while men are the protectors and providers because of their relatively greater size and strength. However, before concluding that biology is destiny in terms of gender roles, it is important to understand that not only do gender roles differ from culture to culture, they also change over time within the same culture. Early 20th-century American culture emphasized that a woman's role was in the home. As a result, many women did not have high school educations and never held jobs; instead, they quite happily raised families and supported their husbands by keeping their households running smoothly. Nearly a century later, this gender role is no longer the norm (or at least not the only acceptable norm) and sounds quite constricting to our more educated, career-oriented 21st-century ears. If biology were the sole determinant of gender roles, such changes would not be possible.
Culture as Gender Role Determinant
In 21st-century United States culture, gender roles continue to be in a state of flux to some extent, although traditional gender roles still apply in many quarters. For example, boys are often encouraged to become strong, fast, aggressive, dominant, and achieving, while traditional roles for girls are to be sensitive, intuitive, passive, emotional, and interested in the things of home and family. However, these gender roles are culturally bound. For example, in the Tchambuli culture of New Guinea, gender roles for women include doing the fishing and manufacturing as well as controlling the power and economic life of the community. Tchambuli women also take the lead in initiating sexual relations. Tchambuli men, on the other hand, are dependent, flirtatious, and concerned with their appearance, often adorning themselves with flowers and jewelry. In the Tchambuli culture, men's interests revolve around such activities as art, games, and theatrics (Coon, 2001). If gender roles were completely biologically determined, the wide disparity between American and Tchambuli gender roles would not be possible. Therefore, it must be assumed that culture and socialization also play a part in gender role acquisition.
Society as Gender Role Determinant
Socialization is the process by which individuals learn to differentiate between what society regards as acceptable and unacceptable behavior and act in a manner that is appropriate for the needs of the society. The socialization process for teaching gender roles begins almost immediately after birth, when infant girls are typically held more gently and treated more tenderly than are infant boys, and continues as the child grows, with both mothers and fathers usually playing more roughly with their male children than with their female children. As the child continues to grow and mature, little boys are typically allowed to roam a wider territory without permission than are little girls. Similarly, boys are typically expected to run errands earlier than are girls. Whereas sons are told that "real boys don't cry" and are encouraged to control their softer emotions, girls are taught not to fight and not to show anger or aggression. In general, girls are taught to engage in expressive, or emotion-oriented, behaviors, while boys are taught to engage in instrumental, or goal-oriented, behaviors. When the disparity between the way they teach and treat their daughters and sons is pointed out to many parents, they often respond that the sexes are naturally different not only biologically but behaviorally as well.
The teaching of gender roles does not only come through obvious verbal teaching from parents and other elders in society; it also occurs in more subtle ways as well. Many people have observed that children's toys are strongly gender-typed. Girls are often given "girl" toys such as dolls, play kitchens, and similar toys that teach them traditional, socially approved gender roles for when they grow up. Boys, on the other hand, are often given sports equipment, tools, and toy trucks, all of which help prepare them to act within traditional male gender roles. Even if nothing is ever said to children about the gender-appropriateness of these toys, research has shown that by the time they reach school age, many children have already come to believe that professions such as physician, pilot, and athlete are the domain of men, while women are supposed to have careers as nurses, secretaries, or mothers (Coon, 2001).
To investigate the influence of gender-specific toys on the development of gender roles, Caldera and...