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Gender roles and its effect on today’s society

Sometime ago, when I was still in School, I was with two male students and we got talking about our future plans (career wise) after School,
As I began to reel out my plans, one of the guys said, “Why are you bothering yourself? After all, you are going to end up in the kitchen!
As I attempted to respond to his condescending words, the other male student cuts in ;
“Anyone who wants to marry Bukola should know the type of woman she is, he has to be able to appreciate her career alongside her, therefore, she cannot be that type of woman you have just described”.
I was relieved ‘cos if I was the one who had responded, I wouldn’t have retorted with those light words.
But isn’t this the reality about the society we live in? A society full with gender roles. A woman belongs to the kitchen let her be a Professor or even the first lady.

We live in a world of gender stereotypes. These are judgments, made on the basis of a person’s gender, about who that person is, what they do, what they are capable of, and what they should or should not do, and we are all impacted by them.
They are generalized messages and images about women and men and their differences, disguised as “truths”, despite being based on limited knowledge and chauvinism.

Some of the stereotypes –
Women are nurturing, caring, compassionate and emotional but “Men are emotionally reserved and rational thinkers”; “Men are violent”;

“Women are honest; men are corrupt”;

“Women should be mothers and stay at home; Men should go out and earn a wage for their family”;

“Fathers are incapable of caring effectively for their children”;

“Men are leaders; women make weak leaders.

Lies! Lies! Lies!

We must have heard people say some or all of these stereotypes. Were they not communicated by our parents or teachers; friends, our boss or religious leader; through magazines or Nollywood films?

Gender stereotypes are deeply embedded in our cultures and societies but we can play an active role in exposing and challenging gender stereotypes, to enhance equality for you and for others.

Mass media, such as advertising, news industries and entertainment, usually portrays men and women with stereotypes, in which In the media, women and girls are placed in disadvantaged situations, for example passive and submissive roles. While men and boys are depicted to be more concerned with their occupations and are more likely to be successful.

The news media tends to create and reinforce rather than challenge gender stereotypes in its news stories.

As a consequence, traditional gender roles and power relations have been deeply internalized in people’s sub-consciousness through the mass media which limit the development of both human personalities and social equality.

Another aspect of the role the media plays in gender stereotyping is children behave and think as the expectation of their society and culture, not the way they prefer. Hence, parents play a significant role in the establishment of Children’s gender consciousness.

Why do we need to condemn gender stereotypes?
The gender stereotypes we face are harmful. They are not just words and images – they have very real impacts. Gender stereotypes reinforce a rigid sense of difference between women and men, and create divides and inequalities.

Stereotypes stop us from giving value to the nuances and complexities of people’s real lives, identities and choices, and are commonly used to justify different and often discriminatory treatment.
As soon as the sex of a baby is known, parents and others consciously and unconsciously start to teach the child how to behave according to gender expectations.
In a School, the only male student who registered Food and Nutrition was mocked by the female students. Why should a boy register such a subject? Do boys cook?
Those are young girls and boys in Secondary school who have already imbibed such. The question is who made it a taboo for boy/man to cook?

The impact of gender stereotypes in the Society:
Gender stereotypes act as brakes on people’s, and particularly women’s, aspirations and the opportunities open to them, on their access to resources and ability to benefit from government policies and spending, and on their capacity to escape from poverty and claim their human rights.
They are used to maintain power relations and hierarchies, and to uphold the privileges afforded to some people over others.
Also, It sets limitation on the girl child. The girl child is reduced to a specie that belongs to the kitchen. At the end of the day, the girl child can’t exhaust one-tenth of her potentials as a result of gender stereotypes. This in turn affects the society at large.  We are still here as nation because  women are still relegated to the background even when it is obvious that women are breaking grounds.

Many untapped resources are in women. Women keep living unfulfilled lives because a woman is expected to behave in a certain way, not take up some kind of employment, a woman can’t be this, she is a woman, a woman can’t be that, she should stay at home and take care of her children.

The media has negatively impacted on gender stereotyping; Men and women are typically stereotyped and portrayed differently by the media. Individuals internalize gender norms and stereotypes through our everyday interactions with others and exposure to institutions such as the media.

Furthermore, the existence of strict unequal gender norms and roles creates tension within relationships. The difficulties of men “needing” to be – and to be “seen” to be – the breadwinner given the challenges they face, are a stress of failure to fulfill the role of the provider in the family. This is a driver of conflict at the household level.

Some men can’t play this role efficiently, no matter how hard they try. Does that make them obscure men? Little wonder there is domestic violence in some homes. The expectations placed on men by the society is too much which has made some of them turn into “terrorists” in the home.

Gender stereotypes are dangerous at every level.

Why do we consider men who can’t provide for their family as weak or lazy men when we want women to be viewed differently as a gender not meant for the kitchen? If we consider men who are not capable enough to provide for their families weak, then we shouldn’t expect women to be respected beyond cooking and taking care of their children. We can’t want to condemned stereotypes in women while we want to uphold some in men.

When it comes to gender stereotyping it’s not only men who need to unlearn certain things, women also need to do that. Enough is enough. Men who can’t provide for their family are not irresponsible when these men are very useful in other aspects of the home front. Can we stop mounting pressure on these set of men already?

It is stereotype to portray men as sole providers for the family. It backfires. It is stereotype to portray men who don’t hit women as weaklings, it is stereotype to portray men who tend to their own children as “the house-boy”,

A man cannot cook, a man can’t wash clothes, a man can’t baby sit his own children e.tc.  Who wrote this manual for us?  It is wrong at all levels. Masculinity is not a fixed natural state of being; it is a dynamic social and cultural process.

One way of challenging simplistic and restrictive gender stereotypes is to create and circulate more complex representations of women and men, representing women and men in all their diversity. We need men and women to take action to fight gender stereotyping, advocating and mobilizing with others to make a positive change.

In conclusion, men have a choice to either act like humans who they are or to continue to live according to the stereotypes set for them by the society. E.g Men can cook and take care of babies.

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Gender roles and it’s effects on today’s society

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.

 

 

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GENDER ROLE AND ITS EFFECT IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

In order to be able to effectively discuss about gender roles and it’s effects in our society today, we must first define gender role.

Gender role is a set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality. Gender roles are usually centered on conceptions of femininity. The specifics regarding these gendered expectations may vary substantially among cultures and religions. Continue reading

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Gender roles and it’s effect on today’s society

I watched in captivation as  this dad changed his daughter’s diaper. She had pooed and he needed to change her at the crèche changing table before taking her home. I was waiting for my turn to change my son’s diaper. I watched as he wiped his daughter’s bum from front to back, wiped it repeatedly till he was sure it was clean. I watched him wear her a new diaper, flipping her with all confidence and alacrity, lovingly pinching her cheeks, the little girl giggling happily and I was so caught up in the father and daughter time together so much that I needed to be reminded it was my turn to change my son’s diaper.

This is  the scenario of dad’s and their children that I have seen in Europe. Fathers bringing their kids to school and shopping malls alone without their wives in tow. These men wipe runny noses. You see them pacifying unwilling toddlers who do not want to stay in their buggies. These dads are so good at pacifying their kids that I, as a woman, whom the society purportedly  believe is born with an instinct to nurture, lacks the kind of patience they exhibit with their toddlers.

I remember a time I needed to take my daughter for immunization, and my husband was not around. It also happens to coincide with a day when my son’s crèche was on holiday. So we needed to find a way to get to her doctor. I was so frustrated by having to restrain my son every now and then and also manage my little baby. I was almost in tears before we got to the doctor’s.

On getting  there, I saw this dad who also had two children, his toddler should be about the same age as mine. He was so good at managing both kids that I was so in awe of him. I was watching him keenly to learn more tips on how to manage my son and daughter should we find ourselves in such a situation again.

This is not limited to Caucasian dads alone, I have also seen African dads do the same thing abroad. Things which the African culture forbids them from doing back home in Africa. Some of the African dads look a bit embarrassed when I see them do daddy duties when out with their kids, probably because I am an African woman and I might be feeling they are being emasculated. I give them this reassuring smile to let them know they are doing well, and they need not feel emasculated.

This is what the African society has taught our men, and it is what I grew up observing back home in Nigeria. The stereotypes of gender roles.  The believe that it is only a woman that can nurse her children has destroyed our family life, which in turn has spilled into our society and created a lot of negative impacts.

As Africans, we need to realize that taking care of children  and managing the home is not gender specific. I know that with my first child I knew next to nothing on motherhood and mothering a child.

Despite the fact that I had read books, it didn’t help. I got to learn on the job daily, And till today, I am still learning and not yet a perfect mother, (not that there is one anyway)

Some years ago, while I was still in Nigeria, a woman who was a senior friend told me how she goes to work with blood shot eyes everyday. She gets so short tempered at work, snaps at every little thing, and her junior colleagues are beginning to get weary and tired of working under her.

She over heard one of them saying that she needed good sex and maybe her husband was not giving it to her. I asked her if sex was the problem, she told me, no my dear, I NEED HELP FROM MY HUSBAND NOT SEX! I felt the pain, desperation and helplessness behind this statement, she further told me how she overworks herself at home  and that she is almost at her breaking point, and she just wants to quit it all. I  hugged her and afterwards I left.

Years later it dawned on me that her problem was gender roles and it’s ideology, and it was having an extremely negative effect on her entire life. This is the reality of most women today, you see some married female bosses acting so wicked at work, giving their junior colleagues a hell of a work time, those ones on the other hand scared and afraid of her.

Some of the junior colleagues of such women have sunk into depression, and they dread each morning when they have to wake up and prepare for work. We might as a people feel this is far fetched, but these are some of the problems that ascribing the sole responsibility of taking care of children, an able bodied man who is a husband, and extended family members who are also sometimes thrown in the mix. together with keeping the whole home clean and running on the woman creates.

The woman also needs to plan good diet, she needs to make sure everything runs well so that the home does not crash. This is such a huge mental load for any human being to bear solely in our society today.

Today’s society is not fit for heaping the management of the home on the woman alone. it has a negative effect which will cascade on the entire society at large. Some people keep saying it is our culture for women to manage the home, this is acceptable in the times of old when things were different from what it is now.

My grandmother was a typical example of a woman of old, and she was so very industrious and a farmer who farmed on various large expanses of lands which were hers. She was able to concentrate well on farming because while I was a child I noticed that she had nothing less than two house helps with her. Not only that, she also had young relatives living with her, and we were sometimes also part of her brood when we go on holidays.

All of us went to the farm with her, and were given our own small duties as young as we were. After each day’s farming, my grandmother gets back home with all of us and dishes out orders on cooking. Someone will peel the yam, another one is rinsing, someone is fanning the embers of the fire at the cooking section, another one is washing the pestle and mortar, someone is warming the soup, another person is arranging plates for serving. It was a beautiful division of labor and the mental and physical load was off my grandmother which in turn made her so accessible, sweet and energetic. Ready to take on a new day of farming again.

Compare that scenario with today’s scenario where a career woman without a house help has to do all these without the help of her husband. How do your think she will be sane with so much to do inside the home and at work?

Besides, we are  already in the era where no one wants to be a live in  help to any family again, so the use of employing a maid will soon fizzle out of our society, and your home would have to be run by you and your partner.

Besides,  it is not every African  family in many countries in Africa that can afford a cleaning service or all the home appliances which could make life easier. Even with the help of appliances, there is still a lot of work to be done and the mental load involved can be consuming for just one person to handle.

Gender ideology in the home is not healthy, and it is not ideal for today’s world where both the man and the woman are working.

The implication of shifting the second shift, a terminology used to describe home making in the industrial times by “Hochschild” in her book “the second shift” which is our reality today where many mothers and wives work is that it could create frustrated women who becomes short tempered and difficult to live with in a marriage, in and outside the home. Her husband sees her as rude and obnoxious, her children and people outside her home sees her as a terror. She unknowingly abuses everyone around her one way or the other.  Whereas this might not be so if the man does his own sheer of the home keeping and become a true partner to his wife in every way to move their family forward in a healthy way.

In conclusion, traditional gender ideology or roles, which heaps the sole duty of keeping the home on a woman in these career oriented times we are in, is not healthy and is not fit for today’s society.

Thank you.
Did you find this educative? Please share and let’s educate our society so we can make it a better and saner place for everyone.

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