Gender Roles

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The term gender role refers to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered appropriate for individuals of a certain gender. Gender roles unlike gender itself are socially constructed. They may reflect the natural aspirations of the gender or they may be manipulated. In modern American society, the roles of gender are indeed manipulated by society itself, forcing expectations and standards on that particular gender to fit the accepted criterion. Women are held back by society’s standards and ideals as well as themselves and their weaknesses. In Virginia Woolf’s “Professions for Women” she talks about an “angel” who causes her to become detached from her work by distracting her and suggesting subtly that she should write to i9nflate a man’s ego-to not go against thy norm. She tells the story of how she conquered the “angel” which shows that women’s’ doubts and fears can hold them back from their true potential. Going along with the same idea, in Susan Jacoby’s “When Bright Girls Decide that Math is a Waste of Time” she says that girls put up a mental block about math and science by saying it’s a masculine subject. Therefore girls tend to not want to participate in math or science for fear of being too smart and, as a consequence, having guys lose interest in them. This is yet another example of society interfering with women’s’ ability to do well and succeed. Stereotypes also put a prodigious disconnection between men and women. According to Katha Pollitt in “Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls” society and its stereotypes give people a deceptive view of the world. She mentions the famous Barbie doll and how girls from the young age of three are given the popular doll to play with. Along with the Barbie doll comes the aspiration to be just like her someday which means women in our society desire do badly to look like the stereotypical ‘”American ideal”. This leads to a self-competition to be something you’re not and further separates the gender...
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