Gender roles must first of all be defined before we can fully discuss or talk about it.
What does gender roles mean?
‘’Gender roles can be defined as learned behaviors by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms’’.
Gender is not an easy conversation to have , it makes people uncomfortable because thinking of changing the status quo is always uncomfortable.
Gender roles determine how males and females should think, speak, dress and interact within the context of the society.
Gender roles are adopted during childhood and normally continues into adulthood. At home, people have certain presumptions about decision making, child-rearing practices, financial responsibilities, and so forth.
At work, people also have presumptions about power, labor, position and organizational structures.
Sadly, gender roles are realities in almost everyone’s life. Gender roles has a lot of effects on today’s society, it is the major cause of gender inequality which has done us no good in our society today, where we raise boys differently from the way we raise girls. We raise boys with Ego and we raise Girls to cater for the man’s Ego.
Gender roles has subjected men to always pay the bills because he is the man. No wonder we have more men as robbers and kidnappers just to meet up with the society’s expectations or role placed on men.
As a very young girl, I disliked the idea of cooking which was not because I do not know how to but I didn’t enjoy doing it. I hated it, I preferred to clean and wash but still I was criticized by the society, they said I was not homely and will not be a good wife material, they also added that ‘’Every woman primary responsibility is to cook and enjoy doing it’’.
The most annoying was been asked at a tender age, ’’who will cook for your husband if you don’t?’’
I did not pretend to like it when it was obvious I didn’t and that is far the greatest disservice gender roles has on our society today ‘’People especially women has turned pretense to an act form’’.
Gender roles disunite people in marriages, relationships et al. I know a lady who dislikes cooking, it had nothing to do with being lazy, she just hates it but she pretended she liked it during her courtship. She got married because she was taught that every woman especially ‘’Good wife material’’ must know how to cook.
Her husband and his family started complaining that she had changed because she couldn’t continue pretending. Actually she had not changed, she just got tired of pretending. ‘’The problem with gender roles is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are’’. Chimammanda Ngozi Adichie.
I urge you to start seeing Gender differently ,let’s unlearn the idea of gender roles, we should be our true individual selves without the weight of gender roles.
Susan Ikegwu is an unapologetic African Feminist, she is Passionate about social change that brings about gender equality and women development in Africa.