Author: Nishaanthini M
What are Gender Roles?
Gender roles are socially accepted roles that have been specified for genders primarily focused on masculinity and femininity. Gender roles among humans have been in existence since time immemorial. This can be traced to the fact that men and women have been perceived through their biological differences rather than as individuals, which was attributed to gender roles in the early days. While men took care of hunting for food and protecting the territory, women took care of their offsprings and looked after the family.
How are they imbibed?
Gender roles are influenced by the environment one lives in, along with family, media and culture playing pivotal parts. These roles are brought into life through gender specific aspects right from a very young age - starting from the kinds of toys that children play with to the kind of clothes they wear. This later develops into how specific genders have to speak, act, dress and groom themselves as society deems appropriate.
How do gender roles affect people?
When the behaviour of the people does not go hand in hand with the socially constructed ideas, it promotes inequality and jeopardizes relationships starting from home. Gender roles make it difficult for people to express themselves and their emotions freely. It also acts as a barrier to pursue what they want in a society which is prejudiced with stereotypes. Feeling guilty is a common consequence of breaking gender roles as most of them are subconsciously fed in from a very young age.
How to identify behaviors that promote gender roles?
It is fairly easy to identify behaviors that promote gender roles. When certain activities and behaviors are restricted to said genders and defying them is considered as inappropriate, it can be safely said that a gender role is present there. Generally, gender roles are instilled right from birth and it gradually develops as the person grows up. Society at large plays a major role in promoting gender roles, which in turn can have serious consequences when not adhered to.
What are the common gender roles seen today?
Some of the common gender roles that are present today are as follows
Women are usually associated to
1. Playing with dolls and cooking sets
2. Being polite and nurturing
3. Cooking and cleaning
4. Taking care of the family
5. Being shy and not outspoken
While men are associated to
1. Playing with cars and super hero dolls
2. Being aggressive and bold
3. Being the breadwinners of the family
4. Making decisions for everyone
5. Having tough personalities
Though gender roles are very much in existence, there are changes slowly seeping in breaking the gender norms all around the world. People have begun to voice out the problems associated with gender roles and are actively trying to break the chain of stereotypes.