The ideals of gender roles

POSTED February 12, 2018


Image courtesy of Pixabay

In a world filled with male superiority, being a woman has always made me feel like I was less than to that of a man. Dating back throughout history, women were often the inferior gender showing signs of a soft, feminine, caretaker not once thought of as more intelligent, strong, or career driven than males. Gender roles are one of the ultimate exploitations of individuality amongst men and women who aren’t the ideal definition of their own gender. As a woman, gender gaps play a role in my cultural traditions, work environment, and schooling environment. Gender roles disrupt the individual from becoming the purest form one can be.

As a child, being a woman greatly impacted the chores and the roles I had to fulfill living in a traditional household. Looking back, the duties my sisters and I had to accomplish were traditional chores from the early 50s era such as doing dishes, washing and folding the laundry, cleaning the house, and teaching our younger siblings. My brother, however, mowed the lawn and helped my dad with the heavy lifting. Growing up in a household where my parents were from a traditional upbringing hasn’t fully given me the sense that I’ve lost power over my individuality but played a small role in how I see things as a whole in a world filled with ideals for genders. I remember once I was at my grandmother’s house and she had seen me sprawled on the couch with my legs open wide. Initially reading that sentence can give readers an image of a not so women like model, and that is how my grandmother saw it. She accused me of being a so called “slut” who should not be sitting in a provocative way. How can one simple body position title an individual with such a heinous word? On the other hand, if my brother or father sat like that in front of my grandmother’s view, it would be considered normal or a man’s position which shows that there are more gaps in gender roles than duties around the house such as body language. Being in the position where I was accused of asking for attention because of my body position felt like I was being robbed of the opportunity to defend myself. She was my grandmother though, who lived by customs passed down from generation after generation. Traditions and upbringings disrupt gender individuality.

As well as traditions and upbringings, the working environment has also helped me understand gender roles. Working in a place filled with kids, I have become familiar with what kind of parents people choose to be when I pick out prizes for their kids at the merch area. Because I work at Chuck E. Cheese, I normally see kids between the age of 4 and 7 coming in. Roughly around this age, kids are able to pick their own prizes because they are aware of what they like and dislike. Most parents let their kids pick and choose as they please, but these same parents want to choose the color of what their child’s toy must be. Color is a prime example of gender gaps. The color blue signifies male. The color pink signifies female. Those colors can be seen as the color to describes those genders. For example, think of a baby shower. The reveal of the baby’s gender is typically blue or pink to signify which baby the couple will be having thus showing that the distinction of colors is prevalent to gender norms. Going back to my first point, parents pick certain colors out for their daughter or son and their excuse is because it isn’t a “girl color” or it isn’t a “boy color” even though their child wants the other color. This recurrence plays a toll into my life because I remember always being fond of the color pink; it was a societal norm for a girl to like the color pink at a young age. Seeing parents let their own kids pick their own toys but robbing them the opportunity of choosing their own color, explains to me why I could have potentially liked the color pink to begin with. It wasn’t because I genuinely liked the color pink, but rather it was forced upon me to go through the stage of the color pink just like how a boy went through liking the color blue. My work environment has awoken the ideals of gender roles and how much it has shaped my past.

Along with the working environment, the schooling environment can also show signs of gender roles that are pushed under the rug. For example, it is seen as very normal for girls to wait for guys to ask them out, not to say that girls don’t ask guys out but it is sought out to be more “meaningful” and “special” when the male asks the female. Putting these thoughts into females minds renders them dependent on the fact that waiting for a man to make the first move is okay. Men shouldn’t uphold the responsibility to ask the woman out as well as how women shouldn’t wait for the man to ask them out. The roles are also prevalent when it comes to dances within school events. For the majority of the time, women expect the men to ask them out to the dance even though there isn’t a specific rule stating that the males need to ask the females. Males; however, are accustomed to asking females to dances so much so that it has become a tradition. The ratio difference between males and females who ask the other gender out is significantly different because of the ideal gender role. Because of the normalcy of males asking females, there is a specific dance in which the female asks the male. The need to have a dance such as spinsters, which originated from the dance “Sadie Hawkins,” shows how much gender roles have played in society and the negativity they have brought to the schooling environment. In my past, I’ve always been told to wait for the male to approach me and never did it strike me to ask them out or to a dance because it wasn’t ideal or normal. As a girl, asking the boy out was considered weird and not okay. Engraving these thoughts into my head is still very hard to rid of, that being said, the course of these ideas can be challenging especially if a population is used to this ideal.

Gender roles exist everywhere. Some examples include: existing at home when you’re forced to do laundry while your brother is mowing the lawn, being forced to get a pink toy and the boy right beside you is forced to get a blue toy, or going to prom without a date because no one had asked. Gender roles have been seen throughout my childhood and are prevalent still to this day. The idea of morphing oneself to fit the picture of society’s frame kills the individual striving to be the truest form they can be. Overall, the ideals of gender roles put a dent in society and the future of individuality.

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