While “ideal” gender roles seem to be inoffensive, they greatly affect the lives of people everyday. For instance, a male is supposed to assertive and combative while a female is supposed to be obedient. Males are supposed to be detached while females are supposed to be sensitive. These assumptions make people feel like they aren’t good enough and that they need to change. Not accepting oneself can lead to many conflicts such as anxiety, low self esteem and depression. Also, gender roles affect the selection of careers. Because women are seen to be nurturing and caring, they are encouraged to choose careers more on the comforting side such as teaching and nursing. Since men are seen to be more tough and strong, they are encouraged to choose careers such as construction and business. Gender roles also greatly impact family dynamics. Traditional households include a working father and a stay at home mom who cooks, cleans and takes care of the children. Women are pressured by society to have children. Fathers are looked down upon if they are stay at home fathers while their wife goes to work everyday. As a result of a stay at home father not having a job and letting his wife provide for the family, he is seen as weak and unsteady.As a teenage girl, gender expectations are a big part of my life. We are expected to be thin. Because of society, many women feel that the only way to be pretty and to be accepted is to be skinny. They see themselves as unwanted and ugly instead of unique and beautiful. Some women try to lose weight by not eating enough, exercising too much and purging. These can develop into eating disorders, which without proper treatment can become dangerous and life threatening. We are expected to always look perfect. We are “supposed” to have our makeup and our hair done. We are “supposed” to wear nice clothing all the time and have our nails painted. Women are “supposed” to be athletic as well. This is more of an expectation now than it was back then. Another expectation is that teenage girls are “supposed” to have lots of friends. Supposedly the more friends you have, the more popular you are. Recently, in the last couple of years, society has begun to accept all women for who they are. Society has acknowledged the strength and power of women.
Gender roles were and are still constant day to day battles. My mother was raised very traditionally. She was taught to always have her legs shaved and her eyebrows done. She was taught that females should always keep their hair long. She was not allowed to play on the playground for two reasons. The first was because she had to act ladylike, not foolish. The second was because she had to look presentable at all times. Her nails had to be painted at all times. She was told that she had to be in shape in order to be accepted and wanted. At a young age she learned how to cook and clean properly. My mother was taught that men should never clean the house, only women. After any meal, her and the rest of the women would clear the table while the men would stay seated, continuing their discussions. The only future she knew was to be married and have children. Till this day my mother has never had a job. She became a stay at home mother. Don’t get me wrong, being a stay at home mother is an extremely tough job. She took care of me and my siblings while my father would go work. She never thought that there could be other options. This is what she was taught to believe was right, this is all she knows.
While raising me, my mother attempted to impose what she was taught onto me. From the second I turned twelve she taught me how to shave my legs and made me get my eyebrows done. She would never let me cut my hair short, no matter how badly I wanted to. Whenever we had guests, I would have to clear all the plates into the kitchen while everyone else enjoyed themselves at the table. When I would get rowdy and excited over something she would tell me to calm down and to stop acting like a man. When I started to mature I began to voice my opinions. I responded by doing what I wanted and what was best for me. I created my own opinions and learned how to live my life for myself, not for her. Even though I still clear the plates at meals, I very much express my distaste. Because my mother and I have very different views on the role of women, we tend to clash more so than not.
Having these gender expectations imposed on me have been hurtful and helpful. For obvious reasons these expectations are hurtful. I used to never feel good enough because I never fitted these expectations. I didn’t feel like my own mother accepted me. My mother would always asked me why I was not be as social and why I did not have as many friends as my siblings. She could not accept the fact that I prefered to have two incredibly close friends instead of a hundred regular friends. She didn’t understand why I prefered to stay at home and read instead of going to parties. I felt like nobody wanted to know the real me. However these expectations have also been helpful. Because I was constricted to these roles and expectations I have learned how to have a voice of my own. I learned how to be a strong and independent women. I learned how to stand up for myself. I no longer feel the need to follow a new trend to please others. I no longer care about they way people see me. I don’t need anyone telling me how to act or look. Today, women have stood up more for themselves more than ever. They are being more vocal about gender issues and trying to find way to function as allies, not enemies. Women are marching for equal rights, equal pay, sexual harassment and so much more. I am proud to be a women.