Different members of the family have different responsibilities, which, in most cases, are socially construed. Responsibility comes with duties that an individual is supposed to perform. At times, such duties depend on the gender that one belongs to. All societies have behavioral and sociological norms that a society deems appropriate to be performed by different individuals of the family depending on the gender they belong to. This is called gender roles, and they differ from society to society, depending on the values they attach to the genders. Gender roles in the family and responsibilities depend on traditions and culture that one belongs to. In general, terms, males in the family (the father and the sons) are considered as a source of security and the role of providing for the family. The females (mother and daughters), on the other hand, are seen as caregivers and home servants. This is, however, an old perception, which has since been passed by time. It is not uncommon to see a lady being the breadwinner and the husband taking care of the children and other domestic issues. Personally, I do not agree with the traditional method of assigning roles to different individuals. It is high time that responsibilities and duties should be shared by both genders, without discriminating which gender one belongs to. In this paper, I will give pictures about me, my family and my friends in order to point out how I think the issue of responsibilities and gender roles should be approached. In essence, through the paper, I will address these issues.
After breaking from school for the Easter holidays, I went home for the short Vacation. Being the first-born, I know I have a responsibility to be a good role model to my young siblings; two sisters and one brother. One activity that I engaged myself in on that day was cooking the family’s supper. In the traditional practice, men were not allowed to cook meals when the women were present. I did the cooking while my mother was watching a program on T.V and my sisters playing. Most traditional societies do not advocate for gender equality as far as responsibilities are concerned. Being the first-born and a son in that case, I was better positioned to go and keep my father some company. However, my father was busy helping watch my little brother who was ill. This situation explains reverse of roles in the family setting, which would not have happened decades ago when women bore the sole responsibility of taking care of the young ones and cooking. My mother seated watching television and my sisters playing shows a reverse of role, which is very flexible in our family and the modern society. After the cooking, I invited them all and served the food while dad cleaned the table. Serving food and cleaning the table is traditionally presumed to be the responsibility of women. It is highly expected in the society that the men should relax and wait to be served by the women (Lipman-Blumen, 1984). However, this is not the case in our family, whereby we believe that anybody can play any role in order to get things going.
Homestead responsibility and duties are in most cases associated with gender roles and to some extent, discrimination plays a key role in shaping the roles that people carry out. On waking up in the following day, I realized that my mother had gone out to do the family shopping. Important to note is the fact that she used her own money, without receiving any amount from my father. Once again, the traditional concept of the husbands and males being the family breadwinners has been casted into doubt. In the past decades, it would have been wrong for a woman to do shopping using their money while the husband uses his money to do something else. The second picture that this creates is the responsibility that children in the family should take. It would have seemed normal for my mother to wake me up and send me out to do shopping, while she remained at home and help fixing the family breakfast. At this time, my father was fast asleep while my little sisters were cleaning the house. This is despite the fact that they are barely mature to handle the washing. Nevertheless, the picture that this portrays is of a family that has no roles specified to a single individual as members of the family can chip in and accord some form of assistance when needed. In the traditional setting, it would have been wrong to imagine of my sisters doing laundry work, since they were young. However, proper orientation is necessary for them to become accustomed to the practice of taking responsibility when necessary.
After the breakfast, I took some time off and visited my classmate, who hailed from a different village. Because the family car had no fuel, I decided to use public transport. What was shocking was the fact that the driver was a young female. For the better part of the past decades, certain jobs were a responsibility of certain genders. There is no doubt that driving is one of the responsibilities and duties that men were tasked with (Radosh et al. 1995). In the modern society, however, driving has become an activity that can be carried out by a person from any gender. This evolution of gender roles and responsibilities was brought about by civilization, in which all people were considered to be equal to each other. In the driving sector, women were not considered as being drivers; rather they were seen as passengers. This attitude has taken an about turn, since everybody can perform the role. In essence, this has the effect of exposing how gender roles are evolving in the society. The responsibilities that were traditionally considered as being masculine have been adopted by the feminine gender, the effect of which is the promotion of equality in the modern era.
On arriving at my friend’s place, I noticed that he was playing with a black kid, and I took no time to join in the play. We freely mingled and quickly made friends with other black kids from the neighborhood. In essence, discrimination on the basis of race is something that was common in the past decades, when the blacks were considered to be being inferior when compared to the whites. However, this has fast changed in the society and the norms have been reversed. Discrimination on the basis of race has been criminalized and to a large extent, freedom of association has been promoted. By mingling with the black kids, we showed that a sense of brotherhood can only be met by taking all people as being equal and regarding them as brothers. In conclusion, the above events reveal how gender roles and responsibilities that were assigned to people in the early decades have been countered in the modern society, to bring about equality in the society.
Lipman-Blumen, J. (1984). Gender roles and power. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
Radosh, P., Hunt, D., Williams, E., Western Illinois University, & Insight Media (Firm) (1995). Gender roles. New York, NY: Insight Media [distributor.