A Breadwinner Rethinks Gender Roles

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A Breadwinner Rethinks Gender Roles

The economic recession has undoubtedly increased the unemployment rates across the U.S. More and more men are becoming ‘stay at home dads’, thus challenging the status quo. This would be a good thing according to conflict theorists, who believe that the male exploitation of women is detrimental to society; any sort of exploitation of rich to poor, male to female, must be deconstructed. “A Breadwinner Rethinks Gender Roles” supports the rising number of traditional gender roles being reversed in today’s society. However, just because the roles are switched, does not mean that true gender equality exists.

Social norms establish the privileges and responsibilities a certain status may occupy. Females and males, mothers and fathers are all statuses with distinct role requirements that are perceived as “normal” to society. The status of a mother includes ‘expected’ roles involving love, caretaking, duties in the kitchen, etc. The status of a father primarily includes the expected role of a breadwinner. The huge increase of women in the workforce, an achieved status, may unfortunately lead to the experience of Durkheim’s concept anomie, or uncertainty of rules/norms in a society. These ‘traditional norms’ have begun to change, but new ones have not yet developed, “To put it simply, because we’re not there yet…” (Kathleen Gerson, quoted in article). So why does gender inequality persist even though men and women are not tied to traditional roles as they were in earlier times? Conflict theorists argue that women are at a disadvantage because of the inequalities built into the social structure. This social structure ‘built’ into society refers to the agents of socialization that have structured what it means to be gendered-female and gendered-male; gender roles are learned through the socialization process. Children learn proper behavior for girls and boys, first—and most crucially—through parents, then the media (Disney...
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