The Limitations of Gender Roles
Just how different are men and women? Everyone acknowledges that there are significant differences between males and females, even if they are only physical. Others see not only the physical but also the social, emotional and intellectual differences between male and female. Gender roles by definition are the social norms that dictate what is socially appropriate male and female behavior. In early American culture it was common for a women's job to be a submissive homemaker in clear contrast to the males aggressive breadwinner role. The seventies marked the beginning of the Woman's Movement and the end of the ideals we held on what it is to be a "man" and what it is to be a "woman". Women were no longer like the stereotypical homemaker, always offering a hot meal for her family, but were instead out burning bras and protesting inequality. No one disputes that the Women's Movement began but there is a disagreement on whether or not it should come to an end.
One of the Women's Movement primary goals was to invalidate gender roles in the sense that women were secondary to men. The fact that gender roles exist is indisputable. Gender roles influence women and men in virtually every area of life including family and occupation. Early into childhood girls and boys are treated differently in families, schools and other institutions. Girls are encouraged to play with dolls and playhouse type of toys while boys will often play with trucks and army toys. Boys are played with in a rough manner and told to "tough it out" when they get hurt. Girls are taught to be more passive and expressive with their feelings. Whether these gender roles are fair or not, is where the argument begins. Does the fact that we are treated differently based on our sex prevent us from
reaching equality or are we treated differently because we are different by nature? We are indeed raised differently, but does the fact that a boy is given a...
Cited: Gorman, Christine. "A Boy without a Penis." Time Magazine 24 March 1997: 2-3.
Lahey, Benjamen. Psychology. Boston: McGraw Publishers, 1998.
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