Hey, get a woman who can do both. Or don’t! Nevertheless, I am that woman here to share why the two are not mutually exclusive. I know many people may think otherwise.
Ah, traditional gender roles. By traditional gender roles, I’m talking about the behavior learned by a person as deemed appropriate for their gender. These roles are determined by the cultural norms of society. Think about stereotypes for women: nurses and not doctors, not as strong as men, not politicians, submissive, the damsel in distress, something pretty to look at, and more. Now, think of the stereotypes for men: doctors and not nurses, strong and stoic, do not do housework, in charge and always at the top, messy, good at math and science, and more.
With the feminist movement on the rise, many mindsets have been generated that seek to demolish these traditional gender roles. And, because of their newfound frequency, we are seeing a shift in these roles. STEM fields are encouraging the engagement of girls, big names like Axe are making commercials denouncing the question, “Is it okay for guys…?”, and ads are often portraying a variety of gender for careers and interests. These are undeniably steps in the right direction. I am reveling in them, and I hope you are, too.
You may have read the list of traditional roles for either gender and thought, shit, that’s literally me. I know, right? They can certainly be tricky. The notion that a mother is the one who does most of the child-raising has been around since the Neanderthals. No wonder we may not notice things like that – these roles have existed forever. We’ve been taught to think they’re right. Our grandparents probably know nothing else but them, LGBTQ+ couples seek to abolish them, and they are a feminist’s worst nightmare. Right?
Unfortunately, many people conflate “feminism” with “hating men.” For this reason, the f-word has developed a bitter taste in many mouths. This upsets me. Generalizing – making a broad conclusion by inferring from specific cases – is never the way to go, even if it’s a positive statement that’s being made. It’s exactly how stereotypes, and traditional gender roles, are born. “All Asians are smart.” “All men enjoy working on cars.” “All women are gentle.” Making assumptions about someone only based on their race or gender is shallow and degrading, even if you may not mean it. Race and gender is only a fraction of our identity. With this said, the belief that all men are sexist pigs isn’t helping anything, ladies.
Warning: this is where I may sound like I’m getting contradictory, but stay with me for a second. While I recognize that traditional gender roles put women and men into constrictive, sexist boxes, I enjoy what I enjoy.
I like making my boyfriend food not because I “know I should” since I’m a woman, but because I…umm…think I make a bomb breakfast sandwich?
What I’m saying is I guess I practice some gender roles, but I don’t do that out of admiration by men/acceptance by society. I’m going into a traditionally “feminine” profession – teaching – because I can’t wait to make a positive impact on high schoolers, not because I “know I belong” in a “clean” and “helping” profession. Furthermore, I study English because I’ve always had a knack for words and language, not because I “should stick to the softer subjects.” I can’t wait to have children one day when I’m good and ready, but gosh, not because I “know I really belong in the home raising kids.” It’s because I’ve always been a family girl and am looking forward to having my own!
Meanwhile, my boyfriend practices some gender roles himself. He excels at math and science and is pursing a career in engineering, a male-dominated field. He’s also enlisted into our military, which may be as “masculine” as it gets, traditionally speaking. My boyfriend drives whenever we have a choice as to who should when we’re together, he’s great with cars, loves watching and playing sports, and definitely doesn’t cry as much as I do. I understand both my boyfriend and I abide by traditional gender roles, but it’s because that’s who we are! Not because we have anything to prove to anyone – including each other.
I wanted to write this post for awhile. I understand that many heterosexual women feel like they can’t do nice things for their partners in fear of being labelled as “hypocritical feminists.” Some may argue, how can you call yourself a feminist if you’re a housewife? If you shave? If you enjoy being submissive?
News flash: feminism is about supporting equality of the sexes. I can support equality while wanting to make my man breakfast. Say if I even wanted to be a housewife, for example. If I choose that route for myself, what’s the problem? If I am forced or guilted into being a housewife, however, that’s another story.
Secondly, feminism is about empowering women. Ladies, if you bash other women for their choices, that’s not empowering at all. It’s the opposite, actually.
All in all? We know that a woman can do anything men can do but she can do it in heels. Let’s get another idea in our heads: a woman can exercise her right to do whatever she wants – in heels, with shaven legs, and on her way to her secretary job.