Gender Roles: Domestic duties, What roles do men and women take on today?

Gender. Male. Female. What roles are assigned thus? Since the dawn of the ancient Greco-Roman world and the beginning of the Patriarchal dominance over society, men have always been viewed to have been the breadwinners, powerful leaders, executors of action, and free to express their creativity  in outlets such as writing, art,music, and theater without ridicule. What about the roles assigned to their female counterparts? Women were and still are viewed to be mothers, nurturers, household caretakers, and caregivers.In ancient Greece and Rome and in many other societies of the ancient world– men were mostly active in making all the decisions and not surprisingly were also the ones having the most fun. They were creating art, partying, ruling, and going to war at their leisure. The duties of women however were confined to the domestic space: raising children, taking care of household affairs, and grooming their young daughters to find husbands.

Has much changed since?  In this day and age of “modern progressiveness” gender roles and stereotypes are still prevalent despite the victory and strides that we’ve achieved in securing a place in the work force, (despite the gender disparity in certain fields) women still end up doing more work over all. A  sociologist at the University of California, Irvine explains in this article here that despite these roles being a personal choice between couples living together in their domestic spaces, society and culture do play a role in shaping how the roles are divided up and women are still doing more work both at work and in the house. More and more women in the modern age have education equal to their male counterparts, even more so in today’s age. Studies have shown that more and more women are going to college and getting degrees compared to men.

Like okay, woman. Not only do you give birth and are obligated to raise kids, despite your efforts in securing a job for yourself equated to your male spouse you still have the  obligation to cook and take care of the house too. Seems fair right? Hell, no. Despite the strides we’ve seen women make to get equal pay (still not really equal though) and secure jobs and to  work in fields that are predominately male dominated–women are still doing more work than ever. Their second jobs consist of the household chores and “duty” of raising children. There are many people that legitimately believe that women and only women have this

“innate nature to nurture.” 

We are nurturers, however men are also nurturers. It’s perplexing why many believe that it is solely genetics or ingrained in women to be nurturing. I find that it is mostly learned through culture, belief systems, and society for women to be confined to that role. Men are also nurturers, the difference is that they are taught since birth or from their own cultures to suppress their ability to nurture or to show emotion. Men and women are human beings when it comes down to it–and human beings harbor both masculine and feminine qualities. A woman isn’t solely feminine and a man isn’t solely masculine. It’s indoctrinated in our culture and society for it to be this way and for women to stay home and take on most of the domestic work.  This is where problems stem from when dividing up the duties between the sexes pertaining to domestic work.

Let’s look at the roles assigned to men. They are supposed to be the breadwinners, fixers of cars and appliances, and magically fix a leak and have the lawn mowed by will (just kidding on that last part). This certainly doesn’t hold true. These stereotypes don’t serve anyone and yet we still see the huge disparities.

The fact that women are still being regarded as the main caregiver and the primary household caretaker as opposed men in today’s society is still evident. Just last year (2014) studies have shown that  on an average day, 83 percent of women and only 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management. Link here.  Stats show that men are more likely to participate in sports, exercise, or recreation on any given day with 21% of men participating versus 16% of women.   However it doesn’t stop there–according to Time magazine, in a 2010 data studies have also shown that 60% of women in the U.S are either the sole income earner in their household or are bringing in as much or more than their partners. Despite this, there is still a huge disparity amongst men and women with household work and domestic duties. Link here

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What disturbs me the most is that in America, not only do we value businesses over humanity (nothing new) but we are the only country in the world aside from Papua New Guinea who offer no mandated paid maternity leave to new mothers. This is striking because, who creates humans and births people in order to keep these businesses running? Mothers. Despite their struggle to keep their jobs or to have jobs equal to men–the moment women get pregnant they are penalized and at risk of losing their job for having the audacity to create another human being. We love the women who brought us life don’t we ? John Oliver’s segment on “Last week Tonight” sums up how America treats their mothers perfectly, and the lack of consideration for maternity leave. View it here. Despite the sattire, it is no less true.

This baffles me the most because even though I don’t have any children or a house of my own or a life partner yet, I simply don’t want to live a life where I am pressured, burdened, and subjugated into these roles because its my “womanly duty” to clean, cook, and raise children. If my partner and I decide to have children I would by no means be confined or let myself be confined to the role of the sole caretaker, nurturer, or cook, or cleaner. If I work in addition to having kids my partner wouldn’t feel bothered in participating in the endeavor of raising children as well…it takes two people to create a child after all. It is a shared responsibility–especially if both parents work and have careers of their own. Men shouldn’t mind or feel threatened by taking on the role of caretaker for their kids. It’s called being a parent to be able to learn to cook, clean, raise children, and do the household chores–it’s a means of survival. It is also a very human emotion to feel nurturing, whether you are a male or a female. It’s also called being a considerate human being when you can share and divide up domestic duties fairly and evenly between couples and–especially to lessen the load off of a mother who also works in addition do doing a majority of domestic duties in her household.

 

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