Traditional gender roles in society are dead?
Before the advent of the 21st century, it seemed that only technologies would evolve in the world of the future. Even after seeing the sixth iPhone, we still continue putting boys in blue, and girls – in pink, and when they grow up – expect from them “male” and “female” deeds. Nevertheless, there is a slow, but steady process of revising the established standards and connection has begun. We talk a lot about the perception of corporeality, the search for harmony with ourselves, and also how important it is learning to accept and love the diversity and uniqueness of people in a multicultural global reality. However, this process is not possible without understanding how the existing models of relations have developed, how our minds have fixed the notion of “right” or “traditional” and why changes are unavoidable. We begin a big discussion about gender roles in our society – the social perception of sex – and what is happening in the modern world with the notion of “man” and “woman.”
Walk in my shoes: How gender roles and expectations work.
In order to see how strongly our behavior is dictated by gender roles, it is enough to analyze one day from the life of modern man. If, of course, you do not live in seclusion, then those around you, guided by the understandable and assimilated experience of thousands of years of patriarchy, most likely expect you to be included in a generally accepted system of values and concepts. A strong son and attentive daughter, a disciplined husband and a calm wife, an authoritative father and affectionate mother, an initiative subordinate and an understanding boss – we unconsciously are built into this system of coordinates in order not to be strangers among our own.
Gender role stereotypes are built on comedy and tragedy. Remember the episode of “Friends” about a male nanny: everything becomes more comfortable when a nanny becomes a girl, and this sentimental and often crying guy Sandy with an ideal education and stunning recommendations goes away. Or remember what happens to Betty Draper in “Mad Man” when she as a single mother, who works hard and brings up the children by herself came to the peace-loving village of housewives?
We call out unbalanced men “hysterical girls“, and strong girls with the principles – “woman with balls”. We compete in a humor contest by using gender stereotype, and deafeningly laugh at the same jokes about Barney Stinson or Michael Scott. In our speech, we constantly choose emotionally colored and far from gender-neutral descriptions of ourselves and it is these descriptions that demonstrate and consolidate the perception of a particular gender.
Who benefited from the shift in gender roles?
We live in the era of active involvement of men in family affairs and the mass exodus of women into the public space. It seems that we can talk about “new” gender roles, only if the word “extra” was not one of the most dangerous, often used and uncertain. A series about new relationships, a site for new kind of women, round tables about new men – primarily a commercial offer – surely, this “new” never existed before. Both sexes now, as before, are not spared from the pressure of gender roles. In addition they feel the constant pressure of stereotype about success. If an archetypal wife turns into a strong woman, or a conditional “wolf from Wall Street” can start working for less money and spend more time with the family, they will be pressured by the cultural dominance of preconceived notion of personal success, self-realization or inner harmony.
Is there no acceptable personal life? Then maybe you have success at work. And if not, then why are you living? Who do you want to be in five years? Choose something and follow the dream! Several times a day we go through such painful dialogues with ourselves or others and learn the “right” answers so well that we begin to believe in them ourselves. Gender roles are constructed and fixed through an orchestrated repetition of actions, as reported by Judith Butler in the book “Gender Trouble“. Repetition gives rise to repression, and habit becomes your first nature. At the beginning of the 21st century, 3-year-olds do not hesitate to answer questions about gender differences and gender behavior frankly.
Remember the “gender fuck”, which was shown by Conchita Wurst: a woman with a beard and travesty shows in the story, and cross-dressing on stage in front of the crowd. Nevertheless, the appearance of such a person on the stage of the old-fashioned contest of a nonexistent united Europe became a news item number one for a whole week. Ask any specialist from advertising: Conchita in the modern world can only sell news about himself (in the way how new is sold about any atypical behaviors). But he/she cannot sell any product, even his singing, for any longer than one season. In marketing, they do not pay money for originality, but they pay for the imitation of a friend. World sitcoms and eco-friendly gluten-free bars for residents of small towns are produced for target audiences in a fair belief that those who consider themselves like everyone and those who consider themselves special can be equally easily counted and measured – not by their heads, but by hashtags and likes.
Can a gender role be free choice?
A century before Jung spoke about the presence of Animus and Anima in each person and insisted on an archetypal aptitude to be of male or female, in which there is much more public pressure than biology. And although in some societies the paradigm of life within the gender roles where the male-provider and the female – home keeper are quickly replaced by the social demands of self-realization and ideal time management. In the era of information transparency, quick decisions and a ready answer to the motivation of every life choice are often required, from your attitude towards the family, your profession to the public role and consumption pattern.
Life under the slogan “Just Do It”.
The more choices an individual has, more concerns about moral worthiness he has. And if you add gender to the list of choices? Lifestyle publications publish seemingly opposite but equally hysterical from “It’s time to settle down and find the right person” to “Why I don’t want to have children and I have the right to choose so!” This reflection can be gender colored or not, but it contains fears and worry about life achievements, age and way of life – the indicators that society is measured in crisis situations. “How to have everything and remain yourself” or “Why the main things in life will come after 40.” Sounds familiar?
How many genders are there?
Feminism of the second wave received theoretical support in 1949 in one of the main books on the female question “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir. The book is filled not only with interesting biological and historical references on the economic and social mechanisms of oppression of the additional sex, but also criticized the dominant philosophical systems: Marxism, capitalism and psychoanalysis. In the last part of the book, de Beauvoir gave a plan for women and by following it can become co-creators of the history, and not just act within the framework of given systems. Sixty-five years later, Australia officially recognized the existence of a neutral third gender, and among the nearly one billion people in India since ancient times there are about 6 million people living outside the binary gender system. Discussions in the media about the atypical behavior of children associated with hormonal changes or upbringing in a gender role that is not suitable for children, and these discussions lay on the territory of biology, psychology, sociology but mostly – in politics.
The vocabulary of sociologists, philosophers and biologists has been enriched with carefully studied notions of “transgender”, “postgenderism”, “intersexuality” and “transhumanism” over the past decades. It is enough to read the ancient Indian epics or read Indian tales to find all the above concepts of gender roles: the flaw of sex and its collective representation always existed, but never received a scientific language, and therefore was ignored by the majority. Cloning, birth control, child-free movement, hormone pills from pregnancy and euthanasia pose scientific questions about who is in charge of the emergence and cessation of human life. However, at the same time, the action of a 23-year-old girl to raise money for an abortion at Kickstarter shows the real scale of “new age”.
all the visible changes in gender roles there are only two in the minds of the majority and there is no consensus as to whether such a division is fair in the near future. The discussion of feminists with apologists of traditionalism does not look like a war of worlds, but as a conversation in different languages with disjointed arguments. Was it once in the history of mankind in a different way? This can only be left in the history in which, after hundreds of winners have rewritten it, there are still no obvious answers to questions about human self-determination.
Why gender roles became the matter of politics?
In already mentioned book “The Second Sex”, Simone de Beauvoir paints a convincing story of the objectification of a woman, coming to the conclusion that “not the inferiority of women has determined her insignificant role in history, but an insignificant role of history has doomed her to inferiority.” Repeating or interpreting her judgments does not make sense: the book is written simply and yet witty and is filled with gender stereotypes and the performance of key historical figures throughout human history. In the quotations given in the Second Field, Pythagoras, Aristotle and the ideologists of the USSR, despite the 2500 years of history that separate them, are equally far from the ideas of gender equality and the change of the prevailing order. De Beauvoir clearly explains the Eurocentric world of the colonizer, which is based on the domination and repression: in this role at different times were the Greeks and Romans, the militant Christians and Enlightenment figures, the apologists of the theory of evolution and the tyrants of empires.
The logic of tyranny is traced not only to women, but also to otherness, as a result we have a linear history of beauty or a one-sided political history of the world in which the diversity of ethnic groups and cultures does not appear. The French philosopher Frantz Fanon spoke in details in his studies how colonization distorted identity and the social systems that were rare for white people and imposed their own authoritarian standards through violence. Indeed, in the supermarket of modern ideas of history and tradition of “non dominant” people are the missing piece or the most needed one, depending on the popularity of a particular supermarket.
Why the expansion of knowledge about the world has not changed the system of division into men and women?
Great geographical discoveries have made with European culture the same as plowing and taming of wildlife: violence against tribes with a different ecosystem has transformed European culture carriers into rapists in their own society. Women who took an active part in running a family business or a city during the colonial wars continued to have an influence as soon as men returned from long trips with wealth obtained by deception and the destruction of their own kind. A huge number of cultures were physically exterminated. Others were modified by Christian preachers.
In his book “Making Sex”, the historian and sexologist Thomas Lacker connect the emergence of the first empires with the beginning of the transformation of femininity into an underdeveloped masculinity. He uses medical directories and treatises of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, which try to scientifically explain the world around – and, it must be said, their attempts do not stand up to criticism: until the middle of the 18th century women are perceived as a weak variation of a man with a clitoris instead of a developed penis and a uterus instead of a developed scrotum. In the European territory, already in the Late Renaissance, all kinds of non-productive sex were prohibited and atypical gender behavior was pursued.
The transition to urban culture creates in England and France, and afterwards in other countries (no matter Protestant or Catholic) the institution of marriage, which literally translates as a “shelter” and introduces the woman in submission from her father to her husband after marriage. It reinstates sociological definition of gender.
Gender in different cultures.
If it seems that the strength and influence of gender stereotypes have weakened over time, conduct an experiment. Open the dictionary of proverbs, collected by the middle of the XIX century, and then read the reader’s comments on popular materials on your favorite site. “I do not want to beat my wife – and there’s no way to be nice.” “The woman is the road from the furnace to the threshold.” “Hair is long, but the mind is short.” “The dog is cleverer than the woman: the owner does not bark.” “A hen is not a bird, but a woman is not a man.” “Where the hell does not dare, there will be sent a woman.” Most of them we no longer use, but their meaning is firmly entrenched in the collective unconscious and is revealed at every opportunity.
The problem of gender is inscribed in the spectrum of contemporary existential and economic problems, into which our unstable, over-consuming and viable society is immersed. Ethnically mixed marriages and migration are changing the demographic composition of seemingly sustainable communities: is it possible now to call the European Hong Kong and Asian Marseilles. Alternative sources of income and the modern economy to contract work and bitcoins mutate labor relations. Nonetheless, books on prosperity and life hacks do not cease to be bestsellers, only now the advice of Dale Carnegie is replaced by instructive biographies of tech billionaires.
At the same time, the ideal communist future, and the American dream, seems equally unattainable as a strategy for the global community. One discredited itself by ineffective regimes with double standards, the other creates destructive competition and objectively cannot stop the next economic crisis. If people still can take risks with political ideologies or professional choice, presenting these systems outside, then gender – one of the most basic. Intimate constants left for humanity.
Gender roles in today’s society.
According to the Time magazine, such a thing as a typical family no longer exists. Indeed, if the number of divorced parents with joint care, single moms and same-sex couples raising children, reaches significant percentages, it is odd and illogical to reflect on traditional gender roles. Most likely, stay home dad and the woman working right after the birth is not the main one, and certainly not the last result of the changing social roles. Nevertheless, considering how late different forms of life in the family and society get their names, one can only confirm that the gender roles are the most slow mutations. The total rejection of them is at the same distance as the construction of a new economic system or a intense hyper global cataclysm. In addition, abandoning the usual gender roles, we will have to re-adjust the attitude to daily habits, friends and relatives, change very funny sexist jokes to some other no worse, come up with a new cinema without the usual genres, stories and subjects, voluntarily abandon the majority gender-oriented products and boycott the work on which we are paid unevenly. We will have to forget about the campaigns to the psychoanalyst who reveres Freudian theories, and to allow the possibility that hormone therapy and body experiments will become common practice after years of social resistance. Utopian consciousness is completing such a scenario unlike the present, in which the floor can be changed almost as often as the hairstyle, the profession – as a hobby, partners – as books, and these books themselves at the head will have to write about the other subject and on another language, and to be interesting to us in our not yet invented new roles of the future.