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“Gender roles are learned behaviors by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms” (1). There is no doubt how women have proven to be as capable as their male equivalent. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of women from all genres who are successful and powerful in their own right. Still, the double standard in our contemporary society is palpable. Male behaviors are in most cases justifiable and acceptable. Meanwhile, the same behaviors are discouraged and frown upon for women. For instance, if a woman forgets to bathe the kids, she is considered neglectful. But if a man does it, “he doesn’t know any better”. The majority of men usually prioritize their career over family and are contemplated as “career driven and manly”. Women take their profession seriously and are judged as “power hunger and ruthless ice queens”. For these and much more reasons, any woman – at any given time – would find it easier to identify motives to be male. On top of that, the common consensus among women is that we envy the fact that society applies these long-standing patterns of behavior (dominance, assertiveness, leadership, etc..) solely upon men. As if success and power only correlates with the male gender.On the flip side of the coin, men struggle with developing a list of reasons to be a female for the simple explanation that they construed their answer by only using customary female gender stereotypes. In the same way, based on the list provided, our male classmates gave us a significant insight into their perception of females.
The characteristics or adjective words were an eye opener – to say the least: can have kids, caring, attractive, no tickets, free drinks, better haircuts and more clothes. If we evaluate their reasons to be females, with the exception of having kids, all the other attributes mentioned were not even deal breaker gender characteristics. Instead, they went for the superficial and unimportant merits. In all honesty, why think about downsizing your social status when the power and privilege of being a male is far greater? Perhaps, men created the list based on how they contemplate women should be – as opposed to recognizing how they are now.Undoubtedly, modern society is blurring the lines for female roles, but not so much for males. Few decades back, men were the protectors and sole providers of the family and women were the homemakers. Nowadays, those traditional notions of men and women are dying out. According to an article, Gender Roles and Society (2), women are not conforming to a gender specific role anymore. This approach has unleashed a whole new set of challenges for men. While women are redefining their role in society and gaining more recognition, the cultural accordance to the masculine expectation (“man up, talk and act like a man, don’t cry….”) is definitely giving conflicted messages to what once was a narrowly constructed description of manhood. What we see in our reporting is really that gender roles are converging more than ever before in society, whether you look at women taking combat positions in the military or father staying home – almost nobody is living out the kind of gender script or marriage script that their parents did. And we find a lot of social confusion,” said Jack Myers, author of the book
The Future of Men: Masculinity in the 21st Century.What Mr. Myers is referring to as social confusion is the fact that men from early age are being taught to be more Agentic (self-assertive, motivated to master, and be proactive). Ironically, power and dominance, as characteristic male traits, are no longer attractive nor desire by modern-independent women. Certainly, they are tired of living in a men’s world, and are working hard to have their opinions and merits validated. Given the fact how the gender differences are getting smaller, it is noticeable that is hurting men more than their counterparts. The level of confusion about deserting the traditional male dominance posture has forced men to modified their behavior as well as to go against the male stereotypes engraved in their minds since childhood. There is no secret that our contemporary society is on a fearless quest for gender equality. In the list of reasons why is it better to be a male, women included some noteworthy observations: higher pay, more job opportunities, no glass ceiling, and taken seriously.
Generation after generation, women have been fighting for equal rights. The right to vote, the right to equal pay, and the right to control their bodies are some of the issues battled over the years. As expected, if we take a closer look at where women are in today’s society, it is obvious they are making an overwhelming progress in different socio-economic aspects. Female roles have evolved at an accelerating rate and are now active participants in prestigious areas like Medicine, Business, Professional Training Jobs, Law, and Politics. In in article posted by Equal Rights Advocates, Fighting for Women’s Equality, it mentions, “women are no longer considered a men’s property, it took decades of persistent work and sacrifice but clearly the power is shifting” (4). By all means, the new era of feminism is shaving away male dominance and perhaps it could be the end of male entitlement too.Let’s ponder for a moment on the power shifting notion. Myers predicts “men won’t be the dominant sex in the future, but they won’t be subservient either” (3).
Since the prescribed notions of masculinity “aggressive, physically strong, and in control” stems from their gender socialization, men are exerted (some begrudgingly) to adjust into roles previously deemed feminine. We all have seen it, more fathers are engaging in child care, household chores, and when is faceable, even paternity leave. In an online post by the Chicago Tribune, The Mr. Mom Phenomenon is Real: More and More Dads Raise the Kids, it points out,The growing breed of fathers–single or married–who are staying home to raise their children, either by choice or economic necessity is not uncommon anymore. As the number of Mr. Moms grows, experts are finding that nurturing, traditionally a maternal role, is not a female prerogative (5).As much as it is applauded, this phenomenon is also ridiculed. A man who chooses to be a stay-at-home dad is frowned upon by society and most likely be taunted -with a vengeance- by their own gender. As mentioned before, the male role is not as flexible as their counterpart. Most men even admit to feel “less of a man” for not living up to social expectations. In the same Chicago Tribune post, it mentions, “About three-quarters of Americans (76%) say men face a lot of pressure to support their families financially” (5). When men fail to comply with their gender specific behavior, society tends to use derogatory and degrading slurs to punishment their unacceptable attitude.
On the other hand, women who embrace ambition and success are the exception of the rule and not the norm. It is understandable to assume that our male classmates did not go into a long list of reasons to be a female in fear of being perceived as less manly. On the topic of why is it better to be a female or male, one can argue that there are pros and cons for both genders. Contrary to popular believe, men just like any women can experience sexism, violence, discrimination and oppression. The only difference is that men rarely seek help from others and are less prone to bring to the surface the perpetrator or to file a formal complaint. In most cases, the victims would prefer to waive any prospect of justice rather than being traumatized again by the legal system. The following list mentions a few gender discrepancies in the U.S:· In divorce cases, only 10% receive custody of the children – apparently, mothers are in the best interest of the children. Of the 400, 000 individual obtaining spousal support, merely 3% of men collects alimony – even when their former spouse earns a greater income. More than 200,000 men are raped behind bars each year – experts say some prison officials quietly permit rape as a way to control the population.· One in seven men has experienced severe sexual or physical violence by a domestic partner or acquaintance (6).
Despite their better effort, divorce attorneys cannot compel male clients to drop their macho pride and collect alimony. They cannot convince judges that men are equipped for child rearing almost as good as females. As far as the cases of male-rape in jail its concerned, authorities could care less about this atrocity. Likewise, there are hardly any shelters or safe places dedicated exclusively for battered men and their families. Unfortunately, gender disparity and physical violence towards men is disregarded or ignored. Yet, men in our class could have stated in their list any of the aforementioned points, but they did not. Meanwhile, women in the class assumed that being stronger, taken seriously, and having less fear of an assault would prevent them from physical/mental discrimination. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the scope of male socialization might seem like a good excuse for the visible gender inequality, let’s take in consideration how we (as parents) are not helping the cause either. The understanding of gender begins with primary socialization, which starts in childhood. Having said that, “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings”- Unknown (7).
With this in mind, raising a confident girl can be a daunting task. Still, equality begins at home. No one disputes that gender roles are complex and social behaviors come in different shades of gray. Nevertheless, stereotypes and social rules should not be the guidelines for oppression and inequality. It is important to realize that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a sustainable society. Hopefully, (before this century ends) next time someone asks, why is it better to be the opposite gender? the list of pros and cons to be female or male should be at an equal level. Maybe by then, the staggering gender dissimilarities in the social, economic and political participations will be an obsolete social issue.
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