The following is a guest post written by Tanner Page (website)
“Over the years, the roles of men and women in our society have changed significantly. Women have spoken out and taken a stand to pursue equality in the importance of the roles they fulfill in comparison to the societal roles of men.
Based on evidence from A Doll’s House, The Awakening, a national survey, and Human Nature, men and women are supposed to play different roles in society, but should have an equal representation in regards to power and freedom.
A hundred years ago, the typical role of a women was to be a housewife: take care of the cleaning, cooking, as well as raise and nurture the kids. A woman doctor or politician was unheard of, rather unthinkable.
In the situation where Nora, (the main character from A Doll’s House) felt inclined to illegally obtain a loan in order to save Torvald’s (her husband) life, she goes behind his back, understanding that it is not her role. “… how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly self-respect, to know that he owed anything to me! It would utterly upset the relation between us; our beautiful, happy home would never again be what it is” (Ibsen Act I). Nora is aware of the role she is “supposed” to play, yet she goes against the norm to do what she feels is right.
It is not so much the duties and responsibilities of a housewife she resents, rather the limited freedom she has to express herself and realize her full potential in that position. If women can feel they have equal opportunities of power and freedom while fulfilling their nurturing roles, they will perceive a balance in the issue of equality in gender roles between men and women.
In contrast to Nora’s attitude, some women will do whatever it takes to not fall into their stereotypical roles because of the lack of freedom available in these positions. From The Awakening, we see that the main character, Edna, was not content (to say the least) with her role as a housewife.
“She would, through habit, have yielded to his desire; nor with any sense of submission or obedience to his compelling wishes, but unthinkingly, as we walk, move, sit, stand, go through the daily treadmill of the life which has been portioned out to us” (Chopin 42). She had become so used to succumbing to her husband’s every wish that submission had become almost an involuntary response, and this bothered her.
“In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (Chopin 17). She understood how society wanted her to live, but she was not willing to accept it.
Her desire for more freedom and independence resulted in a distant relationship with her husband as she would do things to avoid him, and more importantly, avoid the responsibilities she was “supposed” to fulfill. Without any power or freedom, or even a sense of individuality, the woman’s role of a housewife can seem inferior when compared to a man’s societal role.
That being said, there are jobs and roles that in some cases are better fit for one gender over the other. The New York Times conducted a survey in 2009 and found that women who have lost their jobs tend to spend more time with their kids. They also found that in the same situation for men, the time men spent with their children is almost unchanged (Barksdale 2013).
The evidence goes to support the common theme that in most cases, the mother is the better fit for raising and caring for a couple’s children. However, this should not require her to sacrifice her individuality and freedom in order to fulfill this role.
Some experts believe that the natural genetic makeup of men and women greatly influences the roles they fulfill in society. Ernestine Friedl states in his book, Human Nature, “Male dominance is so widespread that it is virtually a human universal; societies in which women are consistently dominant do not exist and have never existed” (Friedl 150).
Even if the genetic makeup of a man has led to male dominance in most societies of the world, women still deserve an equal amount of freedom and power in their role. A man can be the typical “breadwinner” for his family where he provides the main source of income, and his wife’s responsibilities are to care for the home and children. But when it comes to executive decisions for the couple, the woman has an equal say.
The man and the woman both play different roles, yet they are equal in freedom and power. Even local businesses are starting to implement this method of gender equality in leadership. For example, Healthy Trend (not to be confused with HealthTrends.com), just hired on an all-woman creative team because they are “emotionally passionate” about their positions.
In order to create a functional family, basic human needs need to be met. The woman needs to bear and nurture the children, and the man must protect and provide for the mother and offspring.
As the man and women fulfill different roles, each play a crucial part in what society expects. If the deserved respect is given between each gender, a balance of power and freedom is possible. All society will benefit from the men and women cooperating in the sanitation and health industry.”
This was a guest post written by Tanner Page, founder of HealthRanks.org, a site that reviews and ranks nutrition supplements.