Multiple Gender Roles Lead to Role Conflict. Critically evaluate the statement.
Gender is a social construct and a learned behavior based on the physical characteristics/features of the person. It is the norms/rules that are set by society and the appropriate or socially accepted standard of behavior based on sex/biology that makes us either male (masculine) or female (feminine). But the way we behave is dependent on the environment, upbringing, experience, role model, society and our perceptions of society. Example a tom boy is a girl who behaves like a boy (masculine) and embodies/exhibits characteristics typical of a boy. While boys who display feminine or behaviors typical of a girl are called sissies. We are trained to behave in specific ways and rewarded for socially appropriate/accepted behaviors and punished for socially inappropriate or improper behavior.
In the words of William Shakespeare (from the play ‘As You Like It’)
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth.
And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side.
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
Other than these stages in life that we all go through we have many other roles and characters to play like father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephew, nieces, cousins, student, teacher, worker, boss etc the list is never ending and we have to constantly adapt/switch between the various roles as the situation/environment demands it.
Gender is one of the major determent of roles that an individual has to play. Example a man has to be brave, strong and head of the family (dominant- bread winner) while a woman should be caring, gentle and take care of the family/children (subordinate/meek- home maker). These are simple stereotypes or perceptions on how a male or female should behave in society and their roles based on their sex or biological characteristics/features.
Human beings are social animals and need to be accepted and be a part of society and affiliated to different groups and circles that are similar or share our views/ideas. Gender roles are restrictive and put lots of stress and pressure on an individual to comply with the society’s standard and adapt his/her behavior to fit in with society.
Based on gender we have different perceptions and behaviors and trained from childhood example boys are given action figures or games while girls are given dolls or stuffed/plush toys. The association of the color pink with girls and the color blue for boys or how we say boys should never cry but it is ok if a girl cries. We have many role model or people who we look up to and try to copy from their behavior and actions and usually the first role models are our parents and in case of a son it is the father and in case of daughter it is the mother.
As a male or female we have various roles to fill that are gender specific or roles that are based on our physical characteristics or gender (masculine or feminine). The roles are divided based on gender and caused due to many factors like history, religion, society, perception, experience, culture and identity etc,
Historically women have been caregivers and take care of the family and are child bearers while men are the bread winners or providers for the family. But now we have various other roles from working women responsible to take care of the family while balancing the work and men also having to become more active in raising the children as the joint family system has given way to nuclear families. Working women even though they do the same work as a man isn’t paid the same amount just because of being female and perception or ideology of society is that women shouldn’t work or are inferior to men.
Women are the most negatively impacted by gender roles and due to a highly patriarchal mindset and dominance of men in society women have been suppressed and abused for a long time and even now in India face many ill treatment and abuse like infanticide, feticide, honor killings, dowry, sati, rape/trafficking and wage pay gap/wage differential etc.
Due to the multiple gender roles that are forced upon an individual, that one has to follow irrespective of his/her volition, just to fit in society leads inevitably to role conflict and stress in adapting to the various different roles based on the different situations and environment that we are in and the perception of society which impacts how we behave.
The only way to bring about a change and improve status of women and work life balance and play the multiple roles is through proper socialization, awareness, education and health care. Only if we consciously think and evaluate our actions based on our experience and societies perception/norms or rules can we adapt to life in society. Through education and awareness we can bring change in society’s perception and evolve new ideology and remake the gender roles. Without a sound body a sound mind is not possible and society also ostracizes those with disability though we are now progressing and including them as part of our society and providing them with equal opportunity and freedom to achieve. We have also included the gender neutral or third gender instead of the binary male and female and even have accepted different sex orientation (same sex marriage, gay, LGBT etc).