Culture and Gender Roles
Culture is part of the everyday fabric of every society, which includes the United States society. Culture is significant as it helps in shaping the way things are done as well as our understanding of why things should be done in a particular manner. Based on this, culture involves the entire complex of distinctive material, spiritual and emotional features that a society possesses which included not only arts and letters but also modes of life, the value system, the fundamental rights of an individual as well as the traditions and beliefs. It, therefore, encompasses everything that is done in a society, and to which acts as a guide to the future generations.
Gender and culture are closely related. The expectations regarding behaviors and attributes that are appropriate to men or women as well as the relationship between men and women tend to be shaped by culture. Gender relations and gender identities are critical aspects of a culture as they are responsible for shaping the way daily life activities are performed in a family as well as on the broader community and the workplace. Gender functions as an organizing principle for society due to the cultural meanings provided to being a male or a female. Gender functions are evident in the division of labor in relation to gender. In most societies, especially in the United States, there are clear patterns of men’s work and women’s work that exist both in the household as well as on the broader society. However, there are cultural explanations as to why the division of labor does exist and why it should be so.
In the short story, “But I’m a Cheerleader”, the story is not only about sexuality, but also gender and the social construct of the gender roles (Babbit). The aspect of gender construct is depicted in the costumes where intense blues and pinks production costumes and designs are produced. With the campers wearing clothes that are typically associated with the standard male outfit and the standard female outfit, it tries to illustrate to the campers how normal straight people dress. Besides, the gender roles in the short story are reinforced by the tasks that are performed by the campers. For example, girls are taught how to clean a house, change a baby, wear a wedding dress, how to sew, how to wear make-ups and also how to look like a pretty young woman. Boys, on the other hand, are taught how to fix a car’s engine and change tires, how to play football and how to chop wood and spit. However, every society has differing roles of men and women as the patterns, and the explanations differ among the societies, which as well tend to change over time. Based on this, it is evident that as we move from one geographical location to another, societies tend to have different roles for both men and women.
While the specific nature of gender relations varies among different societies across the globe, the general pattern that does exist is that women compared to men have less personal autonomy. They also have fewer resources at their disposal, limited influence over the decision-making process which shape their personal lives as well as the society. Based on this, it is evident that there is a disparity between males and females not only in the United States but among all societies across the globe. Women have no equal opportunities, especially in places of work which include remuneration as well as the promotions to higher positions.
Women remain underprivileged in many societies, with most societies being led and dominated by men in major institutions such as decision making, leaving women to be mere commentators. For example, in the story, “No Name Woman”, Kingston uses the story of her aunt to illustrate gender roles in China. Women in this society had to take and respect gender roles that society gives them. Among the gender roles that women had to follow in China include getting married, obeying men, being mothers and providing food (Kingston). Women had to get married, and this is clear of the continued societal gender perceptions that have continued to permeate in China.
The history of gender stratification has been existent for a long time, especially in Canada, but there has been significant progress in trying to bridge the gap between men and women, thus reducing gender inequality. However, the effects of male dominance have continued to permeate in most of the global societies, and this is evident in the short story “Trifles” where men take charge in the investigation of the murder (Glaspell). The investigators are in “Trifles’ disregard the plight of women, for example, despite Mrs. Forster being married, she lived a lonely life that compelled her to murder her husband.
In Canada between 18959 and 1969, women were deprived so many rights; for example, they were not allowed to own or control property and not permitted to love. Besides, employers could legally pay women less than a man in the same job, abducting a woman who was not an heiress was not a crime, and more recently, women did not have the right to safe and legal abortion. In most of the societies, men and women are expected to follow the defined roles, but in some of the communities are breaking free from the traditional bondage. In the United States, men can now cook while women provide for the family.
Babbit, Jamie. But I’m a Cheerleader. Apropos présente [éd., 2005.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles: A play in one act. Baker’s Plays, 2010.
Kingston, Maxine Hong. No name woman. ABC, 1981.