Perspective on Gender Roles and Identity in Family

Since the beginning of time, gender roles have been a major part of what made up the general rules of society. Gender roles can be seen in every aspect of living such as workplace, marriage, schools and the way society functions. As much as gender roles dominate in society, the rules of gender roles dominate even more in marriages.

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In heterosexual marriages, when men and women are married, gender roles are expressed more than in just regular societal situations. The diversity in character of each gender is normally shaped by different parts of different societal cultures which contain different social norms. Different countries and communities have different norms for which each gender has responsibilities for in marriage and everyday life.

Even though American society had changed a great amount over time, gender roles are still strong in modern day American society. Traditional gender roles still exist and are being practiced every day in American houses. Men usually work and earn the living for their families and are considered the “breadwinners” of the household. Women normally are seen to either stay home and clean, take care of the kids, and cook or if they work they usually will earn less than the husband, and still be responsible for the cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids. Although nowadays women in many cases do earn more than their husbands and are the ones earning the money supporting the family, but the majority of families still retain the traditional roles as men being the supporters of the families.

The general accepted norm for society are traditional gender roles. Traditional gender roles date back many years ago and imply the marital patterns where the man is the head of the household while the woman cooks and cleans, is naturally predominant in many societies and cultures. A big flaw of the system in which the woman is the gender responsible for cooking and cleaning instead of supporting the family, is it refrains the women to reach full potential in what they can do in jobs. Talents, skills and abilities that women have besides cooking and cleaning are generally overlooked in many communities and women are not seen to commonly get as many well paid or well skilled jobs that men may obtain easier due to common predispositioned ideas in society. This resulting in gender discrimination when it came to women apply for jobs and employers hiring men over women, simply because they were men.

The problems of women being commonly overlooked or losing out on occupational opportunities to men, have been gradually beginning to decrease as society progresses. More women are obtaining professions that men had been dominantly being hired for in the past. As times change it is no longer surprising if a woman is financially independent and is even common, whereas years ago, it would seem almost absurd for a woman to be financially independent and working a job. This has given women more equality in gender roles and more power compared to the women of the older generations.

There are three main different types of marriages; Egalitarian, middle type, and the breadwinner. The breadwinner is the most traditional form of gender roles in marriages, it is the one in which the men are considered the breadwinners of the family and earn the wages to support the family while the wife takes care of the household. This type of marriage was the most common in the United States in the beginning of the twentieth century. The breadwinner marriage gives the wife a more submissive image while the husbands are more dominant and competitive. The mother is usually the most influential caregiver in this type of marriage and, it is likely for the children who grow up with parents in this type of marriage, to grow up and also have a similar type of marriage when they grow up.

The egalitarian type of marriage is when both partners in the marriage are working to support the family. They equally work and take care of the children and household chores. The partners of the marriage, essentially, equally divide their time to work, cook, clean, and take care of the children between each other. Although both partners equally sharing the work can have negative results such as both partners not paying enough attention to work or not having enough time to devote to their jobs from spending so much time supporting the family and taking care of their children. This can result in either the partners of the marriage quitting their job to give more time to their family, or less attention being paid to the children and household chores. Although there can be negative outcomes from an egalitarian marriage, they have become more prominent in the marriages recently in American society. As women have become more financially stable, egalitarian marriages become more and more common. And more men have been spending time taking care of the children and doing housework instead of working more than the women, than before.

Middle marriage is a combination of both of egalitarian and breadwinner, both partners in the marriage work to support their family, but the man works more than the woman in order to support the family and maintaining the status of being the “breadwinner”, while the wife spends more time on taking care of the kids and maintaining the house. This still leaves the man as retaining the more dominating and aggressive role in the relationship while the woman is more submissive, running the house, and working less than the man. There has been much controversy over the years whether women should have to stay home and take care of their kids, or if working and earning their career just as equally as men known to be doing for a long time. Some say that women should not work as much as men do, because it will result in less attention being put to the children and not enough care is being given at home if both the husband and wife are working. What the woman chooses to do with her career can defy cultural norms, in certain cultures women are known to only stay home and cook, clean take care of the house and family. A woman having her own career and making her own living and being financially independent is very different to many cultures and communities and often looked down upon.

Because of this controversy women experience struggles unlike men on whether they should pursue a career for themselves or if they should set their life as being a mother and staying home. Being successful and having a family are two separate options that can not both be achieved, or at least to most women this is the idea that society has made a common idea for many women to want to make a career.

Many years ago when the breadwinner type of family was the most common in America, most families had the men working as the main supporters of the family. As society and cultural norms have changed in today’s society almost none of the marriages are breadwinner in America and are either egalitarian or middle. The ideas of equal opportunities for women and equal standards of jobs for women have been the cause of the change in the way the marriages are, but at the same time have been adding on more work for the women to do. Because the ideas that women should be the caregivers and cooking and cleaning still prevail, but now women are also expected to work as much as men, which adds more work for the women to be expected to do in society.

The role each gender plays in a marriage is normally based off of cultural ideas or ideas that have been predispositioned in society. Breadwinner marriage was more common years ago when cultural norms in American society were different and everyone shared more traditional views on gender roles in general. As society norms changed in American, so did the ways people were living in their marriages, and egalitarian and middle marriages became more popular. These types of marriages do have negative effects but the benefits do help the economy of the marriage and give women more freedom to work and build a career instead of being prone to stay at home and take care of the house.

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