Undeniably, besides age, gender is one of the general aspects on which the differences in status are based. Gender is a social creation which details the culturally and socially laid down roles that are followed by women and men. Arguably, our thinking is marks the final product of socialization. From the time of birth, we are being moulded to fit to what the society expects us to be. Moreover, it is through the process of socialization that we come to discover what is appropriate as well as inappropriate for both genders. “Gender roles” is a term that is used in this context to refer to a code of attitudes and behaviors expected of female and male members in a society by the particular society. It should be noted that gender roles vary from one society to another, (Byer, Louis & Grace,1999).There are different expectations that are imposed upon women and men by culture depending on the culture in which they live in. In the contemporary society, there is need to change gender roles in our societies due to the changing times. As mentioned above, gender roles are socially modeled. It has been argued that most of the gender differences that are observed in the personality attributes and behavior are influenced by social and cultural factors. Therefore, this essay seeks to analyze the issue of gender roles in our societies and how it is changing due to the changes that are occurring or rather that have taken place in the contemporary society.
Different theories have been developed by different scholars in an attempt to explain the gender roles that we experience in our societies currently. It is a common believe among the theorists that development of gender identity is based on gender roles. Evolutionary theory is one of such theories gender identity and gender roles. Evolutionary theories of gender development have been based on the genetic differences between males and females, (Nadine, 2007). For instance, according to the functionalists, it is believed that males and females developed in such a way that they could fit into their contemporary and different functions which are crucial for their survival. On the same note, the sociobiologists believe that the differences in behavior between males and females originates from the different reproductive and sexual approaches that have developed to enable males and females to be in a position to competently replicate and successfully pass on their own genes.
According to the gender schema theory, focus is on the responsibility of cognitive organization besides socialization. Proponents of this theory argue that children study how the roles of males and females are defined within their cultures and then internalize this know how as a gender plan. From there after, this gender plan is then used to systematize later understandings. In the long run, children try to match their own self-concepts into the gender plan and then pick the behaviors and characters that seem to be suited for their gender, (Ingeborg, 2004). Another theory that has been put forward to explain the issue of gender roles is Eagly’s social role theory. According to this theory, gender roles results from division of labor on sexual basis and the expectations of the society based on stereotypes. Notably, the behavior of individuals is robustly inclined by gender roles gender stereotypes are supported form anticipations on the basis of the stereotypes.
Femininity and masculinity implies to the extent to which people consider themselves as being feminine or masculine based on what the society considers as being a man or woman. To be more precise, it is the society that decides what it means to be a female or male. The meanings of these concepts act as a cause of inspiration for gender-related behavior. It is expected that the roles of the individuals should match to the identity of the person; either masculine or feminine. Therefore, a more masculine individual should behave in a manner that brings out the attributes of dominance, competitiveness, as well autonomous; and this is according to the expectations of the society. According to the western culture, women are portrayed as being expressive, cooperative, and passive, (Isabella, 2005). Therefore, in most cases the roles that they play conform to these attributes in a great extent. At this point, it is important to note importance is not attached to the behaviors themselves, but the implications of those particular behaviors. Undeniably, there have been cases where some people show or rather display both characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Studies have indicated that individuals who fall in this category are more flexible as compared to those who fall in the extreme ends, i.e., masculine or feminine.
In the context of the household, the issues of gender roles can be clearly outlined on the basis of the roles that members of the opposite sex play within the family. At one point in marriage life, the couples tend to characterize their roles as per their gender lines, (InfoRefuge, 2008). The roles that are performed by men within the family are quite different from the ones that are performed by the women. For example, in the society cooking and washing chores are considered as being womanly while fencing and provision of security are termed as men’s job. This image of the roles in the family along gender lines is passed on from generation to generation. As per this mindset, responsibilities of males and females in a family have been established in such a way that either party cannot take the roles of the other.
In the context of a good number of societies, parents have a big role to play in nurturing their children to fit into the culture and values of the society in which they belong. As mentioned above, a father plays a different role in the family from that which is played by the mother. As the head of the family, the father is expected to be in charge and control of his family. Besides, it is his responsibility to train the male children to be ready to play their roles as husbands and fathers in their family. On the other hand, the mother is expected to take care of her family in terms of preparation for instance, food and taking care of the children. Girls in the family also look upon their mother on how the housework is done. Therefore, the roles of each parent in the family are clearly defined according to the expectations of the society and its cultural practices.
Undeniably, in the recent years certain changes have taken place as far as the issue of gender roles is concerned. In the contemporary society, some roles that were traditionally performed by men only are now being undertaken by women, and vice versa. For example, traditionally it is the role of the woman to prepare meals for the family. However, in the current times preparation of family meals by men is not a big deal, (Linda, 2005). There are a number of factors that have been attributed to these changes. Firstly, education has opened a variety of opportunities for women unlike it were the case in the past. Therefore, sharing of some household chores between couples becomes inevitable. For example, an educated and employed woman spends a lot of time away from her family. Therefore, the husband may be forced to perform duties that could have otherwise been performed by the wife is she could not be working in the office. Moreover, it has been asserted that traditionally women were being oppressed by men as they were considered as being a weak sex. Today, women have become aware of their rights explaining the fact why women are fighting for gender equality in almost every sector within the society including leadership.
In the recent times, gender roles in the work place have become an issue what to be discussed. Due changes that are taking or rather that have taken place in our society, there is need for society members to accept and adjust to the characterization gender roles. Expectedly, the number of women in the workplace has tremendously increased basically due to the advancement of education levels as well as increased women awareness, (Linda, 2005). For instance, studies have shown that approximately forty five percent of the total workforce in the United States is composed of females. With the increasing number of female in the workplace, traditional behaviors and attitudes have to change. For instance, awareness about sexual harassment is more pronounced among the women and men. Just as an illustration, not long time ago a woman who did not agree to have a sexual relationship would have been forced to quit her job. However, today there are many options at the disposal of the woman caught in such incident.
Unlike in the past, the expectation of each sex in the workplace has changed. For instance, today there is no limitation on the kind of work that can be performed by a female worker. Not long time ago, some jobs were only designated as men jobs and female jobs. For example, women were not allowed to take managerial jobs simply because they were undermined by men on the basis of societal teachings, (InfoRefuge, 2008). It was also a common phenomenon that a woman could not earn an equal amount of income with a man even when at the same position in the workplace. This was because, according to societal teachings men are considered has having more power than women; hence, they usually put more effort in work than women, (Jan & Peter, 2007). However, in the current times women are now allowed to take managerial positions in their organization. Moreover, there are no limitations as far as promotion and salary for women in the workplace is concerned. Again, this is attributed to the level of education that has been acquired by women.
The issue of gender roles in the case of same sex couples is a bit controversial. However, studies have indicated that in most cases, housework is generally divided uniformly among the couples. As compared to the heterosexual couples, conflicts arising from the roles of couples in same sex couples are minimal. This is because homosexual couples see themselves as being equal to one another; hence, issues of dominance are less common. However, as compared to the heterosexual couples, divorce rate among the homosexual couples has been found to be high due to changing roles with time. In general, there is satisfaction on the distribution of roles for the case of hetero couples as compared to homo couples.
The media has been one of the most effective factors in promoting the changes that are being experienced in the current times. Social evolution does not occur spontaneously. Promotion of the development in changes in gender roles has been facilitated by the media for instance, through the kind of advertisement that they make. For example, an advertisement indicating a woman chairing an executive meeting and a man doing the cooking is a clear way of showing how gender roles are changing, (John, 2008). Today, both men and women try to cope with the changing roles most probably due to the impacts of the media. Besides, to some extent children tend to learn about their roles along the gender lines differently from the expectations of their society and culture. This explains the reason why the roles of women and men in the society are changing drastically in the contemporary society.
It is very encouraging to see how the female are being portrayed as far as their roles in the society are concerned. As mentioned above, advertisement showing a woman chairing an executive meeting indicates the power that women are gaining in the workplace. This is a good indicator that males are no different from females when it comes to leadership. It also important as it reduces the discriminations that women used to face in the past, (David, 2008). Although in some societies people are yet to be enlightened on the issue of gender roles, in most societies gender roles have no effect on the news anchors. This is attributed to the fact that most people have become aware of the changing roles of both male and females.
In conclusion, it has been mentioned above that gender is a social creation which details the culturally and socially laid down roles that are followed by women and men. Precisely, it is the final product according to our thinking. From the time of birth, we are being moulded to fit to what the society expects us to be. Moreover, it is through the process of socialization that we come to discover what is appropriate as well as inappropriate for both genders. It is encouraging today to see how gender roles are changing today in our societies. In the near past, women were taken to be inferior to men and their work was limited to only household chores. However, recently women have come forward to hold highly ranked positions more especially in the corporate world and they have proved to be more effective at the work place just like their male counterparts. The changing of gender roles can be attributed to the improvement of education level that is being now accessed by women unlike in the past. The media has also played a crucial role in changing the old mentality about gender roles, more especially through the advertisements that they make.
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