Gender roles, something society has placed upon us as human beings that are stemmed within us right from the moment we are born. Boys, to be boisterous, brave, to conceal emotions and to become masculine to then be the provider/leader of their new family. Girls, to be feminine, to enjoy make up and hair accessories along with dolls & sleepovers etc. to then aspire to become wives and mothers. You get where this is headed?
TRIGGER WARNING: mentions suicide.
I’d like to think I’m in touch with reality when it comes to this subject, just based on how I was bought up. This may spark up an interesting debate and I’d love to hear opinions on this.
I’ve had many friends who live within a household that strictly implements gender roles. The females must wash up, cook, clean and do all the homely chores and for the men to work and provide. They’re expected to carry themselves a certain way and dress modest to appear ‘wife like’ — or for men to be authoritative and to hold a certain and be the leader of their household. Now I have nothing against how others want to live their lives but for these friends I see the impact it has on their well-being.
Let’s start with my upbringing — so whilst I was growing up many would say my household was ‘conflicting’, my mother was the one in full time work running her hair salon and working hours on end to provide for the family. My dad, although he had many trades and could have worked just as much as my mum decided that he didn’t want others to raise us, so then he sacrificed a lot of his career to stay at home. Now let’s not assume he was at home ALL the time and didn’t work at all, as he took on the responsibility of raising us and working part time whilst my mother worked full time. My dad would be the one to cook dinner, take us to school and pick us up and more. These are all things society would’ve expected the mother to take on the duty of.
A specific gender doesn’t raise kids any better than the other — my reasoning for this is simply because I’ve seen it for myself. I’d like to think I turned out pretty well though I was mostly raised by my father and had a mother that was the provider of the family. The idea that women are more nurturing than men is bizzare to me, I believe any parent can nurture. It worked for our household and if anything it taught me a lot about the kind of woman I have become and also about the men in my life.
Gender roles put restrictions on your childrens lives — I believe gender roles truly do impact your children. As I mentioned I’ve watched friends struggle due to the pressure placed by their parents for them to conduct themselves based upon their gender. I’ve watched female friends feel trapped as they have to stay indoors and cook/clean whilst their male siblings are allowed to do whatever they please. I’ve seen male friends apply immense amount of pressure on themselves to become financially stable, be emotionally strong and have leadership values. The idea that men aren’t allowed to cry when they feel sad is also part of the reason mens suicide rates are so high, men should be allowed to express themselves in any way they feel too and not be judged for it or be seen as any less of a man. We’re all human and all experience feelings. For us women, why are we expected to bear children and have maternal instincts, women can also be career driven, dislike children or even not want to have any and a lot of the time this gets looked down upon. Then there’s also the idea that if a male is slightly feminine he’s seen as gay or called camp, and if a girl is seen as slightly masculine she’s butch or a lesbian — which is factually incorrect.
I’ve seen female friends think their whole entire lives must revolve around their male partner and that they should do everything for him to the point they’ve lost themselves. They start to place themselves as second best and inferior to their partner when in fact that couldn’t be more farther from the truth. I’ve seen male friends manipulate their partners into believing that in order to be seen as a good woman they should have specific traits and act a certain way. I’ve even experienced this myself after being told I wouldn’t be what they call ‘wifey material’ if I wasn’t willing to cater to a man at stupid hours during the night.
As @t0nit0ne mentioned on twitter, the narrative that “women of today’s generation are so lazy”, I feel as though society is changing, men and women have the same sort of abilities and there shouldn’t be any limitations in terms of gender roles.
How I plan to raise my kids without gender roles — here’s my thing.. I want to raise my kids so that both my son and daughter can wash the dishes, cook food, wash their clothes, so on and so forth. I want to raise them both exactly the same so when the time comes and they’re on their own they can look after themselves. I don’t want my children to be in a situation where they would need the help of the opposite sex, as it’s not something they are used to doing for themselves or something they’re aware of. I want them to grow up knowing how to have all the qualities of both genders in order to help themselves throughout life.
Some young adults travel away to university and don’t know how to cook, they require the help from their new housemates who quite frankly, majority of the time have been bought up within a household that implements gender roles whether that’s unknowingly or through cultural values and it becomes a loop of depending on the opposite gender for certain life skills that almost everybody should have.
I really dislike the feeling of “Why didn’t you clean that up?” when I didn’t make the mess, but because I am the female I’m expected to clean up after other adults who should be able to clean up after themselves. Since I don’t enjoy feeling that way, I don’t want my kids to feel that way either.
Whats your opinions on this? Will you raise your children with gender roles? Have gender roles impacted you? Do you feel a sense of pressure from society based on your gender?
Thank you so much for reading! Just wanted to say I’ve had lovely messages about this blog post on social media and via text message. Please don’t be afraid to share your thoughts here!