The Social Roles of Men and Women as Parents

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Feminism Pages: 6 (2208 words) Published: December 19, 2005
Women and men are nuzzled into predetermined cultural forms when it comes to gender in American society. Women assume the roles of mothers, housekeepers, and servants to their husbands and children, while men act as providers, protectors, and heads of the household. The division of labor in the household hold depends on the environment. Society creates gender ideology that affects the roles women and men take on in the household. However, it depends on the time period and society you live in that determines the "norm" gender ideology. We, as a nation, need to do severe critical thinking about this delusion of gender, how has it limited us in the home, media, and education, how it currently limits us, and what the results of the current and future changes in gender roles will be. Why did women go to work? Sociologist, Emile Durkheim would answer this question with his theory on "Division of Labor". Just 100 years ago, the structure of the family was quite different than what we see today. In the early 1900, predominantly agricultural, the father was the sole breadwinner and the mother worked in the home and tended to the children. The division of labor was based on gender and it was centered on the home, all members having a particular job to do which was an important part of the family's survival. This provided a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. The Industrial Revolution separated the workplace from the home and altered the division of labor between men and women. It destroyed the household economy by removing the production in the home and taking out of the women's hands. Karl Marx's theory of "Human Nature & Alienation" applies here in that we are in conflict with the way we are forced to work in a capitalist society. Capitalism implements its objectives upon us and they become our own. We become entrapped in its processes of productions. Currently, many studies that have attempted to keep up with the changes have reported very interesting findings. There are many reasons from divorce to sheer boredom, but many of these reasons have shown different affects that would cause the study to get too broad and complicated to report the findings properly. Many studies that have been done were only those where the women could afford to stay home and have chosen not to do so. One particular study was very specific in recording the reasons behind why mothers were seeking employment. This study was a longitudinal study conducted in 1975-1976 and then followed up in 1985-86. This study reported that the main reasons for women returning to work could be put into two categories. These categories were "self reasons" and "family reasons." (Bilton, 1996) Under the category of "self" the women expressed their dislike of housework, depression and boredom while under "family" the reasons were money for the family, husband's health and husband's job insecurity. (Bilton, 1996) Traditional gender roles are based on the belief that women should fulfill expressive functions, whereas men should play instrumental (task-oriented) roles. The traditional male is a "superman": tough, hard, and self-controlled. The traditional woman, on the other hand, is nurturing, dependent and submissive. Traditional gender roles have both positive and negative consequences; advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, traditional gender roles promote stability, continuity, and predictability—men and women know what is expected of them. On the negative side, traditional gender roles can create stress, boredom, and anxiety. That they probably never characterized the lives of real men and women is one of the biggest problems with traditional gender roles. Clearly, circumstances of family life have changed in the modern era....

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