Some socio-cultural factors like culture and schooling/education can shape one’s perspective on gender roles they take upon and social perception of them. Growing up in a conservative culture teaches a girl her inconveniences compared to a boy. Notwithstanding, independence doesn’t come without the price of being educated in a society built upon years of misogyny and patriarchy. Gender concerns social norms, beliefs, and liveliness that society judges more relevant for one sex over another.
However, gender is a spectrum and is decided by what an individual’s internal sense of masculinity and femininity. Our society forecasts toxic gender roles for youths to take on because of traditional values that older generations can’t leave behind.
Conservative cultures create a gender-stereotypical environment where they formulate a restricted model for youths to take after. For instances, men are expected to be ‘aggressive or be quiet and suck it up’ (Miller). This pressures boys to hide their emotions, eventually making it hard to express themselves. Furthermore, society used to view women as subordinates to their male counterpart in many aspects including roles in the family.
A stereotypical view is that the older generation has of families is that the ‘Mom’ stays at home to clean the house and cook, while the ‘Dad’ is the breadwinner for the family. They also assume that the ‘Daughter’ will take after the mother, and the ‘Son’ will take after the father. Being a girl that grows up in such a conservative household, is told that she will never measure up to a boy that has the freedom to do as they please (M. W).
Additionally, traditional cultures set forth a conception of how a man and woman should appear and design a system of disadvantage based on their sex in society. As demonstrated, to be a man is to be ‘manly’ and to believe that ‘masculine ideal is effectively separated from women’ (Theroux). This leaves men to never understand a woman because of their hyper-masculinity. Also, the system of disadvantage revolves around male privilege that enables men to feel entitled to a woman’s body. When a woman rejects a man’s advances, they experience an outburst of name-calls and derogatory slurs towards them (Miller). This generates an unsafe environment for young girls to grow up in because it attests that they are subjected to insults if they reject a boy.
Besides, this creates a toxic environment for boys because they learn from the men in their family that make ‘sexual jokes or comments about women'(Miller), and those boys are likely to feel obligated to be ‘tough and plays along with sexism’ (Miller). This atmosphere formulates a sense of superiority and inferiority between both sexes. Hence, affecting their choices in life and opportunities presented to them. In essential, culture presents unwritten rules regarding gender roles that are passed on from generations to generations that take different forms in present-day society.
One way to defy a society built upon years of misogyny and patriarchy is by obtaining an education and schooling. That is an opportunity society took away from women so they can be kept subordinate to men. Moreover, women and men weren’t given equal schooling for both sexes to be independent in a male-dominated society. Due to women not having access to an education, they were forced to marry young as thirteen or fourteen to live with a husband chosen by their parents (Woolf). On the other hand, they would value beauty over brains to make her think in vanity, which becomes her undoing because it strips her of her usefulness as in she will focus on improving her looks and not her brain (M. W). This explicates, that a man can do anything without limits yet a woman is already restricted before she could begin to do anything.
Furthermore, when a man leaves a woman and the woman isn’t well educated, it is hard for her to find a job to provide for her family like Mary Wollstonecraft’s life was after her father left the family (MW). To this day, women don’t earn the same as men for the same job, ‘American women make 80 cents for every dollar men make’ (Safronova). This in the end asset a difference in a power dynamic between a man and woman as education is a big factor in discovering one’s privileges and discrimination of another.
In essence, the environment and condition a person grow up in molds their perception of gender roles and how they fit into them. As a young girl in today’s society, to be a woman means to be hardworking because they are constantly overlooked and faced with sexual harassment. For example, the MeToo movement, which addresses the countless times men and women were harassed sexually, and it started to bring awareness to that problem (Bennett). As a woman, it means liberate everyone that is discriminated because of their gender–that includes transgender people–and include men in feminism because we want equal treatment for all.
Growing up, my friends never saw an LGBTQ+ character like themselves on Tv and that experience is similar to actress Nicole Maines, who never saw a transgender character on Tv that she connected with. Now, she plays a superhero on Tv so she can represent herself to kids that are like her (Keveney). In the very end, gender roles are deficit values as in they are not real things but rather something we believe in to give it meaning.