SHOULD WE RESTRUCTURE GENDER ROLES?

Latoria
Posted June 9, 2019 from Nigeria

From the previous post, we saw that gender is not sex. Sex is biological but gender is cultural. It is the socially constructed roles, behaviours, feelings and attitudes expected of the sexes in a particular society. And it varies with society because it is cultural. Sex is natural and fairly constant. It doesn't change but gender changes.

Gender is the rights, power and privileges bestowed or denied as well as the confinements and taboos charged on any sex while sex is the condition of being male, female or intersex. Gender roles are mostly assigned based on gender not sex. These roles are products of our society because it is dependent on gender.

Gender roles dictate how we live our lives. They are the actions or reactions that reveal our sexes. They are the duties assigned to boys, men, girls and women over time. Components which make up gender roles range from clothing, speech patterns, movement, occupation, domestic work to the likes. Perhaps, these gender roles at a particular time were as a result of the social structure of that time, hence, it was okay. But now, do you think it's okay?

Perhaps, the social structure of the early centuries permitted men to hunt and do the jobs referred to as hard jobs while the women were allowed to do the domestic work and nurturing. However, that couldn't have been biological because gender roles are indirectly or directly taught and not inherent. How does a man learn how not to cry if the greatest teacher of all times, the society doesn't teach him? I mean the man before he became a man used to cry when he was a baby which doesn't make him different from a girl. What happened to his tear gland when he became a man? Is this biological? However, as time went on, with what he saw and was told in the society, he began to adopt such lifestyle because it must not be heard! A man must not cry! It is an abomination and shows weakness. Hence, a man can't literally express himself well.

Who says the woman is meant to cook? Is cooking innate? Is it inherent? Does the woman have a special hand for cooking? Is it not taught? It is a skill which anybody can develop. Come to think of it, the best chefs are not even females but males. You see? Social structures and conditioning form gender roles.

Tosin Ogunsanya in my blog post at latoriaa.wordpress.com, Feminism: What It's Not commented thus, 'If I may, I think gender identification and roles come from an earlier society due to the peculiarities of their time. The definition of those roles and identity haven’t evolved much since then. Hence, your observation of women escaping punishment for assaulting men. As a society, we need to redefine gender identity and expand gender roles.'

That comment was a response to someone else's comment on the post regarding discrimination. Gender identity is an inward feeling of your characteristics. It is how you perceive yourself which could be male, female or transgender. That is not the problem. The problem is with the roles which should be expanded or redefined. I would agree with Tosin because when these roles were formed, it was based on the resources available, level of technology at that time and some other peculiarities. But now, the world is evolving. We shouldn't evolve with what was the big deal as early as the 16th century. That is backwardness. How backward can we get?

I was with a male friend last week and we were discussing about discrimination when he dropped the bombshell, 'I won't allow my wife to work. I hate stress. I hate it when my woman is stressed. She must not work'. Wow!! I couldn't close my mouth. I respect people and their opinions a lot, so, perhaps, he had a point but I was not clear, so, I asked what his wife would be doing if she's not working. He just was beating about the bush. He was saying she would cook and the ehn-yes-you-know slang. Cook? But I thought he said he didn't want to stress his wife.

Don't crucify me yet. Relax. Okay? Cooking is fun when it is fun. I mean my brother cooks so well and to him, it's fun. He loves cooking. He enjoys it. One of my classmates enjoys cooking as well. To her, it is fun and she experiments new dishes she forms in her head. This is fun. But cooking is stress. I'd explain.

Cooking is stressful when the lady goes to the market to buy all that she needs to buy under the scorching sun and comes back exhausted. The most stressful part is, going to the kitchen immediately after coming back from the oven to continue cooking. That is stress! And you are stressing her more than working in an environment where the atmosphere is cool and stress-free. Going to the market stresses her physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally. And this is doing more work than sitting in an office where you get stressed mentally, most times and maybe, physically. Most women don't complain because it's what they've learnt over time and to them, it is a norm. Isn't that stereotyping?

I am not saying a woman shouldn't cook. No, I am not saying that. But should it be a woman's duty to cook? But boys cook too, yes? So, who is to nurture, cook, clean the car, cry, show no emotions, be proud, take marriage as the most important achievement in life? I am not saying marriage is not important, but why does a sex have to take it more important than the other? Because of their biological features? Why do women who abuse men go scot-free? I would have loved to address all these today but not today! Let's address gender stereotypes on Thursday.

What is your view? Do you think gender roles should be restructured? Thank you for reading.

Comments 5

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Lisbeth
Jun 09
Jun 09

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I think your question is worth debating on...

Jill Langhus
Jun 10
Jun 10

Hi Latoria,

Thanks for sharing another thought-provoking post. I definitely think gender roles need to be restructured. It's not black and white, even though some people think it should be or prefer for it to be... both men and women, I mean. It should also be based on what works for a couple, or family, and not be abusive or disrespectful in any way. In other words, there are has to be free will. It can't be forced.

Hello, Latoria,

How about looking at roles as “human roles” and each will do what he or she is capable of doing? In the household for example, the husband is the better cook, then let him cook. Or the wife is passionate on repairing broken things, then let her be. If a certain task, for example washing clothes, is not enjoyable for both, then let the couple discuss how to work this one out.

In our house, chores and roles are genderless. We contribute what we can do best. It works for us.

Thanks for sharing!

Nusrat Ara
Jun 29
Jun 29

There is definitely a need for restructuring. Keep writing and sharing.

Beth Lacey
Jul 11
Jul 11

I think this article is thought provoking. And, I like Karen's suggestion- human roles