In society, you hear about men and women and what they are obligated to do as separate genders. But you never hear of how women can have the same skills and are capable of doing what men can do; or that men can be a stay at home dad while women are out working. Gender roles are social expectations that dictate about how each gender is to speak, think, act, and engage with each other. They control what we can and can’t do by defining things as either masculine or feminine. They determine your career, who you want to spend your life with, what type of person you are likely to grow up as, and finally how others think of you.
Gender roles have changed during the course of the 1880’s to 2015. Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. Around the traditional 1880’s, men and women had more differences than similarities according to society. As stated by the National Women’s History Museum, women were not encouraged to obtain a higher education or go to college, they weren’t allowed to own their property, and women were denied to have the right to vote. Women were controlled by the dominant male, they had no right to act as men did, and played a different role as them too. They weren’t given the right to vote, to stand for election, to open a bank account, to join the army, to work certain positions, or to do anything that was considered masculine, but this didn’t stop women from fighting for what they believed in. According to the Library of Congress, ”Between 1880 and 1910, the number of women employed in the United States increased from 2.6 million to 7.8 million.” This goes to show the evolution of women’s act of liberation in only two decades. However, on August 18, 1920, this was the day that modified democracy, the 19th amendment was ratified and constitution gave women rights to vote. The Constitution clearly states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Many people were grateful (handful of them being women), while others not so much and were threatened by such an act. However gender roles didn’t just affect everyday life, it affected entertainment too.
Around the 1940’s and 1950’s, entertainment even accepted the typical stay-at-home mom, and work-all-day dad stereotype. Shows like this were, I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, and Leave It To Beaver. They entertained households for years and years without them knowing what directors and producers have hinted. What seemed like just your everyday entertainment actually portrayed a role in how others saw gender roles and how it guided them to accept the roles. TV shows made people believe that this stereotype should be okay because it’s on television. Men became sole providers of the family this gave them reason to believe that they were of superiority, power, and dominance; which gave women belief that their one and only job was to stay home and maintain the house. However, this was semi-halted when the 70’s were alive, this was the decade of diversity and exploration. Some men and women even swapped roles, since women working became more common, it was the men who had to save the day and become the caretaker rather than the sole providers. Women, Africans, Natives, and Gays continued to fight for equality and for what they believed in at this time, but many disagreed with this concept of sexual liberation, racist-free, and a diverse community living in the US. However, it wasn’t until later that men and women began to get along more than they did then, they viewed each other as coworkers rather than competitors.
Men were capable of having many rights given to them by the government, they had the right to vote, they were able to take charge of the household including confiscating all of their wives inheritances. Men were seen as superior to women in every aspect that occurred. They even received the best education, they had the voice in the household, and also great control over the women.
During the 1980’s women were considered into shaping, helping, and engaging in the community. They were more accepted in the workforce if they were married to a partner who was also working in the same field as they were. Some women were now given even higher positions at work than some men had, but there was still low-paid women. Several men had a hard time dealing with the fact and experience that women were able to have higher positions and did have higher positions. Though, how men solved this issue and humiliation of theirs was by working into more physical labor. Around this time the divorce rate increased and many women began to attend college to expand their career opportunities, but they were still being discriminated. Numerous women were not able to work in computer sciences, however according to PBS, “...women received more than half of all bachelor’s and first professional degrees by 1990”. This goes to show that women were finally rising up to what they are capable of doing, and that was anything men could do, the only thing now that would be able to prevent them from what they wanted to do was themselves. This concept and non-stereotype was more accepted during the 90’s. Both men and women were expected to be the caretaker and the sole provider of the house. As for work fields and careers, women were now acceptable as lawyers, and it was much more common for both genders to become a doctor then it used to be. The wage gap between the two genders began to decrease, and half of women were held at manager positions and higher positioned jobs than men were. Even in media did women begin to take over and ads included men and women to target both genders. During the 2000’s, women’s discrimination was then again a provocative topic because women were taught to be more submissive, and many believed (including men) that it is their fault they are treated differently. Along with provocative topics, PMS was very controversial during this period more than ever and issues of sexual harassment and domestic violence began to rise. Fast forward to about ten years later, and both genders are accepting to both similarities and differences to each other and recognize morality rather than superiority. However, the rise of social media has had its effects on gender roles. During this time, memes, photos, videos of social experiments began to increase in ratings, and were found to be humorous to society while offending others at the same time. Because of the fame of social media began to carry, it began to affect the way people think, their opinions and perspective on diverse topics, but most of all social media has had its recent peak of interest at gender and politics. During this time, the most popular type of feminism was categorized and labeled as, “Third-Wave of Feminism”, social media has had impact on how both genders think, they’ve influenced many to think that one gender specifically deserves more rights than the other. Research says that beliefs have a lot to do with differences,“Researchers also point out that they did not try to determine to what extent these differences reflect real, physical or biological differences between genders. For example, do men tolerate more pain because they believe that is what they should do as a man? Krizan says some behavioral differences may be learned through social roles”.
In all of the histories time we find it has been proven that women of 1800’s-1900’s should be considered housewives with no education.While men take over and they have a selection of rights with the knowledge from schooling. Women are now capable of getting an education and working for themselves instead of depending on a man to take care of them. A person once said, “We use all these stereotypes, all the time without knowing it. We have met the enemy of equality, and the enemy is us.” The way gender defines who everyone is today is still a mystery.