Change in Gender Roles over Time

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The Evolving World of Gender Equality
Gender roles in America throughout the 1900s have arguably undergone their most drastic shifts than any other century. While a shift in a mindset that focused more in equality was marked by the passage of women’s suffrage in 1920, the Popular Front movement that occurred from 1890 through 1934 and amid the Great Depression was an often overlooked, although an important, turning point for civil rights as a whole. With the start of the World War II in 1939 and men fighting overseas, the economic stimulus of wartime created jobs for women while men fought overseas. What was it that gave these women the power and courage to stand up for what they thought was right? How did they begin to transform what most considered a perfectly expectable part of society? By looking at writings, photos, and other works by prominent progressive women over the last century, we can get a real perspective on how gender roles have come so far. This paper aims at discovering how gender roles have progressed, what changed them, and who the main proponents of this change were. While social and economic pressures clearly set the path for changing gender roles, discontentment among women with their social status and the push by particular women from the ground up within the greater context of a civil rights overhaul set the precedent for a more equal America and shifting gender roles. Theoretical Perspective # 1

Feminist theory is the first theoretical perspective which I have chose to research. It addresses gender inequalities and puts forth a way to address these differences (Giddons 2012). The focus will be on two different sub categories of the feminist theory, which are liberal feminism and radical feminism. Liberal feminists do not blame men for their oppression; rather they blame it on a larger system where separate factors such as the media and discrimination in the work place are to blame. Liberal feminists actively strive for greater political power and support advances such as the Equal Pay Act (Giddons, 2012). On the other hand radical feminism is based on the view that women’s oppression is solely the male’s fault. They fight strongly against patriarchy (the domination of females by males), and some radical feminist goes as far as to say that female oppression can only be stopped by overthrowing the patriarchal system (Giddons 2012). Sociologist Shulamith Firestone was a very influential radical feminist. Her book The Dialectic of sex: A Case for Feminist Revolution caused a political riot when it was released. She describes how men will always be superior to women until science makes it possible for either gender to be able to give birth. She explains that it is impossible for female oppression to end if they have to be dependent on men financially and physically during pregnancy. This gives the man a supreme authority over women that no law or political policy could remedy. Other radical feminists believe that male violence, including rape, sexual harassment, and relationship violence are all key factors to male supremacy (Giddons 2012). Throughout history, both liberal and radical feminists have fought actively to the end oppression of women by men. They have made enormous strides to gain gender equality and their efforts have been paying off. Theoretical Approach #2

The next theory which I researched was the attachment theory. Even though most people believe it to be outdated, it fits very well with the research topic. The attachment theory is based on the idea that there is a learned relationship between mother and child (Giddons, 2012). The attachment theory is another form of the functional approach; which is the belief that society is like a system of parts that when working smoothly, produce a social equilibrium. In other words, men and women perform the tasks in which they are best suited for. Men being better suiting for physical labor, and women being...
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