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Gender Roles

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Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:07 am
Attolia says...



Gender roles in your/our society. Do you think they exist? What do you think they entail? Do you abide by them? How do they factor into romantic relationships? Which of your traits would you attribute to gender roles versus individual characteristics?

I believe they are diminishing in many ways, especially economically, but I think they are so ingrained into our society and culture that we take them for granted and have trouble recognizing them.

I am a cliche girl in many ways: I care about my appearance, I'm addicted to shopping, I make guys initiate all things romantic/sexual. I'm not so much in others: I'm not very emotional and I don't form great emotional attachments or dependencies, I don't have drama, etc. I'm sure there's much more on both ends. I think I was the only person a few years back to have been severely conflicted when Gossip Girl and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were on at the same time. But there - I've already implied many common gender stereotypes. Expand on them/challenge them if you will.

Given there's equal opportunity and no discrimination, I personally like them, especially when I can use them and my gender to my advantage. But I also aesthetically enjoy the fact that there are different concepts of masculinity and femininity. The prospect of a unisex world would be very dull and depressing, in my opinion.

**When I'm talking about this subject, I mean it in the context of a Western, urban society in which women are no longer expected to be housewives - the gender roles that still exist in these most progressive societies. As petty as this is, think the world of Sex and the City. I think we all (hopefully) can agree on the negativity resulting from cultures that perpetuate gender roles in which women are not given equal opportunities, rights, or respect.

But back to Gossip Girl versus Terminator - why are shows like Gossip Girl targeted for girls and Terminator for boys/ why do many girls like Gossip Girl and boys Terminator? Does it all come down to the cultural values and gender roles that society brings us up with? Do we have real genetic differences that make one or the other appeal more to us? That's more the line of thought I meant to initiate.
Last edited by Attolia on Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:56 pm
Confictura says...



There ARE gender roles, they're just not in the right place...

Should females be more emotional? Who knows?
Should females be viewed servants? Should any genders be viewed above the other? No.
Should males be seen as buff jocks? No.

Last time I checked, the female body was the one who could carry a child. Seems like a role to me, and since it's tied to a specific gender, it seems like a gender role.
This is a CORRECT gender role, not like the stereotypical 1950's housewife roles that are so damn common.
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Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:17 pm
tinny says...



Seems like a role to me, and since it's tied to a specific gender, it seems like a gender role.

In what respect do you mean? That women should be mothers? Personally I wish to remain child free, but I don't think that it makes me any less of a woman. Nor do I think that women should be automatically considered to be a child's primary caregiver -- I was raised by my Dad and am a perfectly functional person, something I would not be had I been raised by my mother. Being able to carry a child and give birth isn't so much a gender role as it is biology, but perhaps that's just semantics.

Personally, I dislike gender roles. I mean, what are they other than social expectations as to what each gender should and should not be able to do? There are fewer differences between men and women than I think we like to believe sometimes. I am what could be considered your 'stereotypically' emotional woman, I don't think that's a bad thing, it just means that I feel things more than other people might. But there are men that are exactly the same as me, men that have mood swings and feel things a lot and are just as emotional as I am. We're just emotional people, regardless of gender. The big difference is that it's okay for women, where as it's not considered socially acceptable for a man to even do something like cry.
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Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:01 pm
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Kyllorac says...



Seems like a role to me, and since it's tied to a specific gender, it seems like a gender role.

Correction: it is tied to a specific sex.

Sex differences are biological, and, short of genetic engineering, are not transferable. Gender differences are societal, and they differ over time and from culture to culture. The most basic gender roles, however, are tied to consequences of the sex differences.

For instance, women are the only half of the population that can bear offspring, thus continuing the species. Carrying children to term and ensuring their survival is a very time-, energy-, and attention-consuming task, which is absolutely essential, and which men cannot perform. Even basic care-giving relies upon the mother or another woman until the child is weaned. As a result, in cultures worldwide, women stay at/close to home to raise the children while the men go out, gather difficult (and often dangerous) to acquire resources, and defend said home. The reason this basic societal structure is found worldwide is because it was the best one for survival as it most efficiently divided the labor according to which sex was physically best for the job. Gender roles arose around this division of labor into the various concepts we're familiar with (like men should be athletic and outdoorsy, women stay at home to raise the children, etc.).

Nowadays, however, with the advent of baby formulas, artificial insemination, and higher technologies, survival is so much easier, it's no longer necessary for such a stark division of labor. However, until we figure out how to bring children to term externally, women are the still only ones who can continue the species, and so I believe gender roles will continue to persist. They just won't be as stark as in the past, due to the need for such a strong division of roles being no longer necessary for survival.
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Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:03 am
Pigeon says...



But back to Gossip Girl versus Terminator - why are shows like Gossip Girl targeted for girls and Terminator for boys/ why do many girls like Gossip Girl and boys Terminator? Does it all come down to the cultural values and gender roles that society brings us up with? Do we have real genetic differences that make one or the other appeal more to us? That's more the line of thought I meant to initiate.
Girls do tend to like shows like Gossip Girl and boys do tend to like things like Terminator, so maybe there is some inbuilt, genetic difference. I don't think it's purely biological though. Part of it is that it is expected that girls and boys will like certain things, and they fulfill those expectations. Boys and girls like certain things because they've been raised in a society which assumes that they will.

In Literary Terms: A Practical Glossary it says
in the social sciences, researchers use the terms sex and gender to refer to different kinds of division. Sex is used to refer to biological difference, while gender is used to refer to social and cultural differences that are built upon sexual difference.
As Kyllorac already pointed out, there's a difference between sex and gender. Sex is biological, and in my opinion gender is simply a societal construct.

Women are still treated as inferior in many settings, and that can also cause restrictions for men, because it's seen as bad to be effeminate. Madonna sums it up pretty well :)
Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
'Cause it's OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
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Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:42 pm
Isha says...



I saw this and I just couldn't resist posting. Please bear with me while I spill thoughts that randomly occurred to me last night whilst watching Little House on the Prairie.

One thing that I've always wondered about is why [certain] gender roles are even considered degrading. If a woman wants to stay home and be a house wife, and a man wants to go out and work and provide for his family, as it usually does go- even in modern-day society- then why do so many people consider that sexist? Or why has a woman's roll in a kitchen or taking care of the kids and looking after the household considered degrading?

Honestly, that aspect of a person's life is extremely important. Sure, the man should have equal opportunities to cook, clean and look after the kids, and a woman should have equal opportunities to go to work, make money and have a life. On the contrary, is it really the roles that are sexist and degrading, or is it what we've created them to be? Why should running the kitchen of a house and changing diapers be considered to have any less value, importance or excitement than going to sit in an cubicle and work all day? And as far as masculinity and femininity go- why is being a woman who likes dresses, flowers, etc..., and being mild and gentle considered 'stereotypical' or 'out of date?' The gentle, mild and feminine role in society is just as important and the protective, strong, masculine role. We need both to function, and we also need the people who are in between.

Now, of course I'm not saying that woman should have to stay at home. Equal rights and the ability to get out and do what they want? Excellent. Especially since I don't really have any desire to be a house-wife myself.

But why is it that when someone says "that's man's work," it's offensive? Because there's a lot of "women's work" out there, too. But, for some reason, society has dubbed "women's work" to be of less importance than "man's work," and so, in turn, "women's work" becomes an offensive term to women, and "men's work" also becomes an offensive term to women, even if "women's work" is equally as important, valuable and necessary as "men's work" is.

Gender-roles exist, and yes, they can go to extremes or be ignored altogether, but there are certain things that don't make sense to me. The "roles" should, in my opinion, both be considered to be equal, and both genders should have the choice of whether or not they want to take them on. Men should be allowed to stay at home and do "women's work" if they so choose, without being dubbed 'not masculine' because of it, and women should allowed to go out and do "man's work" if they want to. They already do, and it's already considered a "good thing" and it's considered "equal."

Meh. It's not so much the gender roles that bother me, but the way that one gender role is completely dominant to the other, and that one is considered to be less important, weaker and unappreciated; and then there's the way that one gender is allowed to do both, or the opposite one that was "intended" for them if they wish, but if a person that was "supposed" to take on the dominant role in the first place takes on the "weaker" role, it's the strangest, most laughable thing on the planet.

Wow. That was quite the ramble, and I'm fairly sure that it didn't make much sense, but I hope someone understands what I'm saying here. xD In a nutshell: Gender-role assumptions, expectations and the way society looks at one as degrading and the other as awegreat, and the fact that a woman is allowed to take a "man's role," but a man should never, ever be caught dead taking a "woman's role" is what bothers me. Not so much the gender roles themselves.
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Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:21 pm
hopeispeace says...



I don't honestly care if gender roles exist (beyond re-productiveness) I won't be following them.
And don't think anyone should have to, or feel like they have to.

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Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:33 am
Snoink says...



I, as a woman, am or might become (due to my gender) a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, if the circumstances come around.

A man is or might become (due to his gender) a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a father, a grandfather, if the circumstances come around.

I don't think anything else, not relating to the family, should be constructed by gender roles.
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Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:21 am
HomelessPorcupine says...



So I don't really see the point in trying to bring total equality to both male and females because, honestly, the two sexes will never be truly equal (as a whole). For example:

1. Men will, generally, continue to be physically dominant when compared to women.
2. Women will, generally, continue to be emotionally dominant when compared to men.

Plus, there's the fact that women give birth and men can't.

I'm not really trying to address the whole issue here, just trying to point out why I believe the argument of "full equality for all" is kind of ridiculous.

When it comes to talking about gender roles, I'd like to refer to what I've already said. We have separate roles because we are different. Period. I'm all for doing what you want to do in life and I believe that everyone should have equal opportunity to do so. However, the fact remains that, overall, men will continue to remain dominant in some categories while women will continue to remain dominant in others.

In response to stereotypes, I don't think that becoming the stereotypical housewife is a bad thing. I also don't think that becoming the stereotypical cubicle-drone-man is a bad thing (though it isn't my first choice of occupation by a long shot). Furthermore, if a husband and wife feel comfortable with switching those two roles between themselves, then that's between them.

So I guess that I agree with Snoink's last sentence. You shouldn't do something just because you feel like you're being forced into it by a gender role. You should do what you gain the most joy out of doing. If that means being a lumberjack in Siberia, then more power to you! However, I believe that it is important to emphasize that just because something is considered stereotypical or a gender role, that doesn't make it bad. Once again, do what you gain the most joy out of doing.
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Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:58 am
Pigeon says...



So I don't really see the point in trying to bring total equality to both male and females because, honestly, the two sexes will never be truly equal (as a whole). For example:

1. Men will, generally, continue to be physically dominant when compared to women.
2. Women will, generally, continue to be emotionally dominant when compared to men.

Plus, there's the fact that women give birth and men can't.
The emotion thing is disputable, but I'll ignore it for now. I think you are trying to point out biological differences between the sexes, which is quite right. Being physically stronger is in some degree determined by sex, as is being able to give birth. These is not to do with gender though, because sex is not the same thing as gender, nor does it determine it.

I'm not really trying to address the whole issue here, just trying to point out why I believe the argument of "full equality for all" is kind of ridiculous.
That's why we aim for equal opportunity. The idea is not to have a precise 50/50 ratio of men and women in every role and every job in society. It's to ensure that the best person for any job can get that job, regardless of gender, and that sort of thing. Not equal roles, but equal opportunity to fulfil those roles.

On average, men are better suited to things like heavy lifting than women are. But I do no women who are stronger than the majority of men I know. If there's heavy lifting to be done, the strongest person there should do it, whether they are a man or a woman. Equal opportunity means that to perform the task the criteria is not about male or female, it's about physical strength.

Our society definitely has ideas about roles which are appropriate for men and roles that are appropriate for women. Even the language we use is sexist sometimes. For example, terms like "male-nurse", which implies that nursing is an appropriate role for women, and that any man doing nursing is some kind of oddity. These kinds of false distinctions are made all the time.
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Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:27 am
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ZaddieCaso says...



I don't think there is anything wrong with gender roles.

It's the choice that is important. Gender roles only become a problem when people are forced or pressured into being constrained within them.

I'm not against the role of woman to cook or clean, or the role of woman to constantly be exerting her freedom and independence, I'm just against the pressure put against sexes into conforming into these gender roles.

I think that's a vital point lacking from the discussion, most people are against gender roles. There is nothing wrong with the roles themselves, its the freedom associated around them and the derogatory connotation that is sometimes associated with them.

I just thought it was something to point out.
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Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:05 pm
Amaranth says...



I second ZaddieCaso's notion. I'm rather indifferent to gender roles. Hell, until I went to school, I hardly realized that there was a difference between men and women.

I'm only bothered with the issue when someone tries to either make me conform into my sex's mold or tries to make me defy it when I absolutley do not want to.

Most people seem to have a terrible misconception that being a lesbian suddenly makes me a die-hard feminist. However, this is not true. I'm well aware that there are just somethings women cannot do and men can... But, this does not mean we cannot strive to become whatever feels natural to ourselves. Whether you want to be a housewife or an executive in a corporation or a construction worker in New York, one cannot let their bodies become the prisons of their souls.
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Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:32 am
UnicornNerd says...



I think that differences and gender roles is a good thing. For instance, a woman can be femine, beautiful, and confident. A man can be masculine, strong, and protective. (I'm not saying these are requirments, I'm just expressing an example.) Neither is better than the other, but that does not mean they are the same. Individuality is very important, and sex or gender is the thing that separates half of the population. Genders should be equal, not uniform. Could you imagine if the only thing separating us was our organs? Everything else was alike?

We should definatly keep our genders individual, just balanced.




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Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:18 am
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Pigeon says...



Men are different from women. Women are different from other women. Men are different from men.

People are different from other people. Gender divides are not a prerequisite for diversity.
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Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:37 pm
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Kyllorac says...



I like how everyone has been operating under the assumption that there are only two sexes (and therefore genders). What about those people who are neither or both male/female (intersex)? How do gender roles apply to them, if at all?

In the case of intersex children, they are most often surgically modified to appear female out of the belief that having no gender identity would be harmful. This modification often has long-lasting negative psychological consequences, and many such children feel that they've been assigned the wrong gender (and sex). On the other hand, many children who have not been thus modified feel like they are wrong because they did not develop correctly into one sex or the other.

In addition, not identifying with the "correct" gender is seen as a mental disorder. But how are people who have no clear sex supposed to determine which gender identity is "correct", considering how closely tied sex and gender are?

Some things to think about.
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