Social Stigmas and Gender Roles

Topics: Gender, Transgender, Gender role Pages: 6 (2185 words) Published: April 15, 2012
Social stigmas accompany every one of life’s categories – especially male and female. Gender-based stereotypes – existent since the beginning of time – help in both the advancement and hindrance of the sexes and of society. Gender roles helped create society. They generated a world in which the man went out into the world in order to work and provide monetarily for his family while the woman stayed in the home, working hardly to accomplish the couple’s domestic responsibilities and to raise the couple’s children. This traditional notion of the roles of genders enabled families to function in history; however, in the modern-day era, this notion only thwarts progress. As women travel out into the work place, they are not treated as the equals of men. The societal perception of the weak, lesser woman still remains, preventing women to become truly equal. On the contrary, gender stereotypes also inhibit the growth of men, causing them to feel compelled to follow the traditional definition of masculinity. Gender should be seen as fluid (with personality characteristics and preferred hobbies that can be demonstrated and admired by both sexes), rather than as a rigid set of characteristics needed to be met. Societal expectations of gender differences should not be forced upon people.

Gender roles played a big role in the formation of history. In prehistoric times, women gathered food near their home while their male counterparts hunted for game. While searching for food, the women took responsibility over the children and the cleaning of the house. These roles followed men and women into modern times. The man – venturing out into the world – was always considered to be stronger and worldlier, while the woman was considered to be innocent and naïve. During the nineteenth century, women were denied the right to vote because it was seen as something that would tarnish their innocence and disrupt the so-called Cult of Domesticity. Women were also denied the right to vote because it was assumed that they would vote for the same candidates as did their husbands and brothers, thus essentially doubling the vote of the male population (Cayton). Roles that once were beneficial to culture – as during the prehistoric times when necessary labor could be unquestioningly divided between the sexes – now hinder from expansion the very society they created.

The same gender ideations that existed in the times of the prehistoric human still determine a lot of today’s social and cultural characteristics. These roles and preconceptions are dramatically outdated and obsolete. In a world where a woman can be the breadwinner of her family, she should not be looked down upon simply because her cells code for XY chromosome sex characteristics. Vice versa, men should not be expected to be perpetually tough and strong. Men who do not fit the mold are immediately ostracized and ousted from society, mocked for their “feminine” traits. However, personality characteristics should not be assigned to different genders. The association of certain inherent qualities with one gender over the other causes a schism in humankind, separating people into two groups of male and female. The mere grouping of people based on common characteristics leads to the assumption that all people in the category must abide by the decided upon characteristics, or said person will be seen as an anomaly and ousted. The necessity to conform places an undue pressure upon the citizens of the world. This stress manifests itself in a myriad of different (sometimes harmful) ways: a person may become depressed or even suicidal. Many people, in response to intense societal pressure break laws and attack others (such as when people rape or murder others, based on their gender or sexual preferences). Societal perceptions of man and woman should be eradicated; they are much too outdated, specific and assuming for a self-proclaimed “progressive” society.

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