Gender Analysis Essay Gender Roles? What Gender Roles? Throughout the endless generations and societies of the world the idea of gender roles can be found in each and every single one. Every human being, in their own time and own way, has had an image drilled into their head as to how the roles of each gender should be played out. On the outermost surface there are two distinct and recognizable types of gender naturally being male and female. However, that truly is only the surface as there are many types of gender roles either a male or a female may choose to, or be forced into assuming throughout their lives.
Society uses whatever image it chooses in order to convey what it thinks the gender roles should be at the time and is very capable of controlling the way people think, act, and behave. However, our generation as well as the last few generations have had the interesting experience of living in a society in which long established gender roles are being challenged more and more everyday. We are deciding as a people that we are far more interested in being individuals then simply going along with the stereotypes set forth by society.
My family, in which my father is responsible for the majority of cooking and cleaning while my mother is the main breadwinner and financial overseer, seems to be a perfect example of the new trend along which society is moving and the new opportunities and ideas that are becoming a reality when it comes to gender roles in society. Everyone knows the long and stereotypical list of jobs that guys do and jobs that girls do as well as the different toys that each are supposed to play with when they’re little. We all also know how the boy that plays with dolls and the girl that plays with trucks gets treated when they’re little.
Seemingly, neither one of these things has really changed at all up until today, but why then does the idea of gender roles seem to be diminishing every single day? Personally, I believe it has almost everything to do with your family and the people that you are surrounded by at a young age. They’re the ones who dress you, decide what school you go to, what friends you hangout with, even what food you eat. They take the small clay ball that is you as a baby and begin to try and form it into what they (in many cases what society) want it to be.
For me, this was not so much the case. Every Sunday morning I would roll over in my bed to the sound of the vacuum cleaner humming up and down the hallway or the mop squeaking along the kitchen floor. Once I finally was able to pull myself out of bed and drag my way up to the kitchen table I was greeted by a plate stocked full of eggs bacon and pancakes all drowned in steaming maple syrup. If you were to ask almost anybody who it was making these noises and preparing this delicious meal they would undoubtedly say it was my mother. But they would be wrong.
While my dad was busy cleaning and making breakfast, my mom was in her office starting on her work for the day, or filing taxes or balancing the checkbook. See, in my house, the term gender role was a very confusing one seeing as how it had a different meaning there then almost everywhere else. I would go to all my friends houses and see their dads, coming home all dirty and sweaty from work, cracking open a cold one while their moms would be scurrying around in an apron tidying things up and pulling hot buttery rolls out of the oven right before dinner.
It never really dawned on me at such a young age though that the differences between my home and my friend’s home were so significant and that I truly have a different life because of these differences. To be completely honest, I have never really thought about the way in which experiencing gender roles in such a reversed way (thus perhaps not experiencing them at all) has actually affected me and the way in which I act. However, thinking about it now, there are definitely aspects of my life and personality that are different due to the circumstances under which I was raised.
Most importantly, I think that growing up in a household in which all the gender rules were broken has allowed me to be much more open to new people, places, and things. Gender is more likely than not the very first thing you notice about someone. You use it as a basis for almost all of the forthcoming judgments you will make about someone based on things such as what they’re wearing, how they talk, where they work, what they eat. A person’s gender decides so much about them in they eyes of an observer, the only problem being many of those things may not even be true. Growing up ith the idea that men and women can fulfill whatever role they choose both within the home and outside of it has caused me to be a much less judgmental person. This is because if you take gender out of the equation it eliminates such a large portion of what you would judge a person on that you don’t judge them at all. Realizing something as simple as the fact that men can stay at home and cook and clean and women can work hard and be in charge of money allows you to realize that you actually have to talk to a person and get to know them before you really known anything about them, you can’t just take things at face value.
Had I grown up with the stereotypical patriarchal family I have no doubt that I would be a different person. For every child that does grow up with one of these families, the roles assigned to each gender are becoming more and more solidified. Every parent that buys their little boys baseball gloves and a plastic tool box and their girls an easy-bake oven and doll house is simply placing another brick in the ever growing wall of gender roles and we are still, to this day, witnessing the negative effects these gender roles are having on our society.
Men still dominate most higher up positions while women still receive lower wages then men in many cases. It’s a little crazy to think that something as simple as what toys you give your children to play with are contributing to the development and growth of gender discrimination isn’t it? So many people may be asking, what toys should my kids play with? Well, growing up I sure didn’t play with dolls or easy bake ovens, I also played with trucks and superhero action figures and baseball gloves. The difference is in the context in which I was playing with these toys.
I was playing with my hot wheels while watching my dad scrub the bathroom floor and hitting baseballs through the window of my mom’s office while she was making major family decisions. It was being able to see the full spectrum of what both males and females could do that allowed me to never get sucked in to the idea of gender-designated roles. I hate to sound as if I’m bragging or over prideful when I say this but I feel as though it is family environments such as the one I was brought up in that are allowing for cracks to be formed in that brick wall of gender roles.
Trying to teach people about true gender equality and cooperation when they’re already grown up and have had 30 or so years of “teaching” from the rest of society is something that is very hard to do. In Amy Truong’s essay, “Gender Expectations and Familial Roles Within Asian American Culture” she talks about how her ideas of gender roles were also formed at a very young age, “ Within Asian culture, women are raised and taught to be silent and obedient…growing up I was told, ‘Do not comment or speak up,’ whenever I wanted to voice my opinion.
My opinion was considered unimportant. And for many years of my life I believed that this was true. ” It is clear that within our own culture, Asian culture, and more than likely every culture of the world, you are truly taught about gender roles within society as a small child when you don’t have the ability to teach yourself and thus you simply take what is given to you. Thus, I strongly believe that gender roles are specifically established within the first years of each new generation.
They are then solidified throughout your childhood and teenage years and by the time you are an adult your beliefs about gender and society are already more than decided. This generation, now grown up, will pass down the exact same beliefs and ideals about gender to their children and the perpetual circle of assigned gender roles and discrimination against the non-conformists continues. Growing up with an alternate view of gender roles has allowed me to understand that we can change the old and out dated idea that because you’re a woman you stay at home with the kids and because you’re a man you bring home the paycheck.
In almost all cases, excluding some jobs involving physical labor, women are more than capable of doing the exact same jobs men do, and in many cases a better job. Similarly, men are capable of doing all the same jobs commonly held by women. All it is, is a state of mind that has been so instilled in the heads of society that we have all but lost the will to change it. We are all created equal, it is a statement on which America was founded, but perhaps it should instead become a statement by which America actually lives.