Gender roles and the topic on the association of women ‘femininity’ and men ‘masculinity’, has prevailed for decades. There has been hassle on the relationship between these two genders. Masculinity which is used mainly for men in the society has prevailed and this brought about the patriarchy social system, which is the system that has upheld male power , authority and dominance over females. In a Patriarchy social system, there was clear gender roles. Fathers where the leader and bread winner of the family. His work is to provide and protect his wife and kids, And Capitalism according to feminists made the father less concerned about home and family chores. He is concerned with working every day to earn money to feed his family and in that case the whole house-hold chores of cleaning, washing and taking care of the kids fell on the mother who more or less had no public face and was mainly based at home. This social system according to feminist brought about gender discrimination and inequality whereby the men oppressed women, so feminist movement were created to eradicate such inequalities and promote equality between the two gender. So far, notable change and effects has been created and there has been a lot of awareness to this notion. My argument , will then be based on the extent to which I can relate to the essay question on my opinion regarding the relationship and connectedness between the two gender in our today’s world. there are significant instances where by we can see that gender or gender roles are coming together , because of the awareness, there has been significant decrease in these discriminations but can this change justify or is this change enough for us to say it would create and lead us to the dawning of a total new era of androgyny Truly there are significant examples whereby women have tried in the society with clear examples of women who has made a difference and advanced politically, economically and otherwise, but does that justify the question, Can we in this instance say that there is an upcoming era of androgyny ?
Today, We can today see how much effort women has sacrificed towards achieving equality in gender roles but we do not forget the fact that we are in a society whereby the worth of an individual is mainly evaluated by his or her physical representation. I can point out that there are significant transformation going on gender roles and that feminist voice has been heard and there are more correlation between the two on issue of roles nut then I can argue on the extent this transformation can go, and the possibility of men removing there power and identity which is seen as factors of masculinity to be in a society of androgyny. There are clearly societies whereby gender differences are still supported and conservedin society today, looking at under developed countries especially Islamic ones, there are still cases of such discrimination going on there with its attributes referred to culture, tradition and religion. ‘A Man’s World’ this is a phrase I have used many times, and it is a phrase most men come especially when caught up with gender arguments with the other sex. Masculinity and male dominance can be related and felt from when a child is born. When a child is born, He or she is born either male or female and from birth receives gender stereotypes immediately examples can be seen from mere cloths, colour choice, toys etc. baby girls are clothed with maybe more feminine colours such as purple, pink while the baby boy is probably dressed in a more masculine colour such a blue, green etc. These gender roles can be seen as something inherited from generation to generation from their culture, tradition and environment, Most parent are more likely to bring up their children same way they were brought up, so thereby enhancing the traditional patriarchy. Mothers are brought up as young girls watching their own mothers cook and take care of the family so in that prospects they bring up their daughters in same way while the boy emulate the works of the father in taking care and being the head of the family. it is he work of the parents to lead and direct their children on the gender region they belong to, as a child one is not really given the opportunity to choose his or her own gender track. That is why we can say that males where probably raised by two gay mothers are probably able to turn gay because of the influence from the parents.
The most noticeable and most accustomed principles that always get caught up between teenage males and females is the topic on sexual control, the way in which male and females see sex before marriage is not the same. The differences and ways of sexual act has something to so about the gender of an individual. A well representative analysis shows that sex before marriage is totally tolerable and pleasing to males than to females. Males who have sexual intercourse with more girls are very respected and cheered while females who do such are found disgusting and tag names like, Whore, Slag etc. So In this case, I did a little investigation just to know the opinion of my friends, I lied that I have 3 girls I sleep with at the moment and they all laughing and acknowledged my achievement like it was something great but when I mentioned a female I know that has 3 boyfriends they were all disgusted even the girl amongst them was annoyed , and she even called her names. This is to show how much it is not still acceptable for a female to be loose in our society. Also, Even much attention is paid just on her physical appearance, they are easily categorised from the way they dress to their presentation for example if a girl is seen in public wearing miniskirts or see through dresses, they are easily judged and seen as Prostitutes and slots without even knowing anything about the person. But there are no such labels attached to men.
Moreover, In our world of today, We are notice the shift in masculinity, Today women have been more involved in politics, and are now involved in piloting affairs of various courageous roles and has progressed in acquiring more economic and social power, and this points out that they are not afraid to take upon tasks of men and do what men can do there by influencing this shift in roles. The two sexes now confront each other in places of work and this affected and helped in changing the way men saw women,
‘Accordingly, while millions of women have entered the labour force, this has not been associated with a corresponding increase in their power and influence. At the risk of repeating the obvious, men still fill the top positions in industry and politics. Even though we have seen women like Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Golda Meier reach the pinnacle of political power, this does not represent a significant undermining of male dominance’. (Brittan, 1989 pg114)
I remember my Sister once used a phrase on me in an argument based on gender role that ‘ what a man can do, a woman can do better’, this I believe was maybe to an extent the belief of these women at this stage. But although this had positive effects on the identity of women at that point, yet, In our contemporary society there is still clear examples of male dominance and there are still societies today in which patriarchal system whereby women are under the control of the men are embraced and women are subjected to the roles of mothers, house wives who do house chores such as cleaning, washing, dusting, and taking care of the family including the man. Now talking about women getting involved in work place, although they are involved in these jobs there are still that clear identity of inferiority to men in the work place. In our contemporary world, It is not really hidden to see that women are paid for a particular type of job significantly less than men in the work place.
‘The fact of whether you are a man or a women will have a direct bearing on your chances of becoming successful. Moreover, the limited number of women who do achieve their career aspiration can expect to be paid significantly less than men for the equivalent work. Indeed’ (Whitehead, 2002)
This clearly shows how much this inequality has been sucked into our system and it is a a disagreement on the notion that males and females are equal, because the divided relationship between the two genders can be noticed in different aspects of life such as, work place, political, educational, family even religion. These inequalities has prevailed for a long time and there are signs that it is still going to be present for a very long time. Also looking at the introduction of women into the labour force, we acknowledge the topic on bead winning in the family. Since in this case both the man and the woman make money and earning from their labour, so there about would division of bread winning as well.
‘In simple terms, the person who brings a wage into the household is presumed to have some kind of privileged status in regard to other household or family members. In principle, one would expect that any household member who does so should be afforded status and some kind of authority. So, in a family in which both the husband and wife go out to work, there should be no real difference in their status. But the evidence is that even in those households in which the wife’s wage corresponds to that of the husband, there is a peculiar imbalance in the household division of labour’. (Brittan, 1989 pg114)
The division of labour in the household always tends to maltreat women, in the sense that men are never interested on these chores but then it is drawn to our attention how fathers now interested and now sacrifice little of their time into these chores, but then this made some practitioners move too fast in being optimistic and assuming that everything pointed to a state whereby there would be equal division of labour in a traditional family, there would be no superiority of the father a just the leader and bread winner. Clearly there has been an evident shifting in men’s attitude towards the family but in this case I don’t see it as a clear and distinguished division of task and house hold chores rather I think that men out of sympathy have understood how stressful and unfair it is for their wives to do all the chores, and there are cases whereby it is the wife that has initiated the division in the first place, it’s not like men decided to do so on their own, there is always a driving force that push them towards doing so. So my point thus far is that there are significant change in the way Men view the family thereby creating transformation and decrease of masculinity but on the other hand, there are still that significant gap between the two genders.
‘Yet, in spite of this contemporary interest, and signs of widespread support for an enlarged father role, the pace of change has been slow. While men are doing more child care and housework than they used to, women still perform the bulk of these activities’ (Pleck,1985).
On the other hand, Women according to Brittan are seen as non-productive being and the point of debut into history when they were members of the labour force, because mostly they were based at home and that was not regarded as a great contribution towards production
‘Although reproduction is about the replacement of labour Power, It can be best represented as being a series of ‘moments’ in which men exercise control over women. From the act of penetration, to marriage, to childbirth, to child caring, to the assumption of the breadwinner’s role etc., men dominate reproduction’. (Brittan, 1989 pg114)
Brittan argues that even in reproduction, the male still exercises its domination and the woman is clearly being submissive.
Also, On religious grounds Both Christianity and Islam religion both upheld the patriarchy and showed the inferiority f women. Patriarchy is still very visible in under developed Islamic and Christian nation such as Nigeria where I come from which comprises of both Christian and Islamic. Although both the Bible and the Quran obviously explained the equality of both sexes, yet Moslems believe that women are inferior and unequal to men and are seen as weak and evil, that explains why they don’t come into the mosques, and their personality are limited by their dress in which they are made to cover their selves completely while men are not covered and gender works in general is patriarchy up till date, and in this situation there are a small number of women that complain, some are already acquitted with the environment and have no plan of protesting. Also in Christianity as well In Traditional catholic Church, only men can be appointed as priests and ministers of church uphill date and there is no sign of such change affecting it, there has been clear little part played by women while the men are the Popes, Deacons, Priests, women are only Reverend sisters whose work is mainly to support the priests. Christianity also gave all right and authority to men.
But I would like to acknowledge on the other hand the achievements of feminist and the creation and recognition of shift in gender roles in our society. David Tacey, professor of Jungian and Psychoanalytic Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne pointed out that men at a point noticed the corruption involved in patriarchal system, and in order to save the world and make it a better place for future generation changed its identity. Pleck argued that , According to the combination of too much mothering and insubstantial fathering lead to insecurity in male identity. This insecure masculinity is manifested directly in homosexuality.
A new image, summed up in the term “the new father,” is clearly on the rise in print and broadcast media. This new father differs from older images of involved fatherhood in several key respects: he is present at the birth; he is involved with his children as infants, not just when they are older; he participates in the actual day-to-day work of child care. (Pleck, 1987)
In conclusion, according to Seidler, Male domination was acceptable in previous decades, until Feminism made it clear on the matter of the power men had on a patriarchal society. They exposed capitalist patriarchy and how it is based on influence of men and challenged that domestic responsibility should be shared amongst both sex and these should be authority and power on both the private and public sphere, these actions where acted upon but he made clear on still significant domination of male power. Problems of gender is moving just like problems of racism, class etc. I don’t think these problems will be eradicated from our society whereby there is no gender roles, no racism and no class difference. But in my essay I have mentioned on the importance and recognition of the important shifts that took place, but it would be very difficult for men to drop their identity and dominance over feminist because masculinity comes with power.
Tacey.D. (2007) Finding the Truth in Men’s Experience: Masculinity, Change and Healing, [Online] Cg Jung Page. Available at : http://www.cgjungpage.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=813&Itemid=40 accessed : 12th March, 2011
Whitehead, S.M. (2002) Men and Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity.
Brittan, A, (1989) “Men as a Collectivity” from Brittan, A, Masculinity and Power pp.108-141, Oxford: Blackwell ©Staff
Pleck, J, (1987) “American Fathering in Historical Perspective” from Kimmel, M, Changing men : new directions in research on men and masculinity pp.1-2, London: Sage ©
Pleck, J. (1985). American fatherhood: A historical perspective. American Behavioral Scientist, 29(1), 7-23.
Seidler, V.J. (2006) Transforming Masculinities: Men, Cultures, Bodies, Power, Sex and Love. New york :Routledge