The Change in Women`s Roles
THE CHANGE IN WOMEN’S ROLES 2
TheChange in Women’s Roles
Genderbinary is the grouping of sex and gender into two different, oppositeand disconnected kinds of masculine and feminine. Women role andmen’s role are clearly defined form of gender binary. Men areconsidered masculine responsible for taking care of the family interms of providing for them and providing physical security. On theother hand, women are seen as home makers, responsible for caring forchildren and handling household chores (Maume, 2006). This twoopposing views however found a different meaning in the late 20thcentury with the emergency of feminism. In this essay, we are goingto explore the way women role have been over the years and the way ithas changed over time. Ultimately, the gender roles of women havechanged significantly. Equality has been one of the push that hasmade women role to change in the society.
Theterms housewife and a mother were words that were used to denote atypical woman back in the mid 20thcentury. A mother and a wife had very particular set of duties andresponsibilities to fulfill, not only in the family but also in thesociety (Maume, 2006). They were basically seen as home makers whotook care of their children and their husbands. They were largelyexpected to be responsible for household chores like cooking for thefamily, washing, cleaning and being submissive to their husbands andmen in the society. Nevertheless, these roles have changed sincethen. Women have engaged in different roles that traditionally werefor men. The modern woman is no doubt different from the women of theearly 20thcentury in terms of their roles both in the family and
Acase from the 1950 home economics book was based on ‘How to be aGood Wife’ provided nine propositions of what a god wife isexpected to behave or do. She was supposed to ensure that her husbandcame home to a tranquil and serene environment (Chapman, 2013). Toachieve this, she had to ensure that she had taken care of allhousehold chores before her husband was home. The husband was notsupposed to hear any noises from children, dish washing or laundry.Once the husband was home, he was welcomed to a nicely prepareddinner, and a warm welcome.
Inaddition, the woman had to keep herself attractive and smart for herhusband. She had to prepare herself, put on make-up and ensured thatshe pampered the children by washing them and changing their clothes.She always had to put in mind that her husband had a rough day atwork and home was a place to comfort him. She kept in mind that ifher husband was not present, she and her children would be infinancial stress, hence did everything that would please and make himcomfortable (Chapman, 2013). She could not ask nagging questions toher husband, but listened and did all her husband asked of her.
Generally,the role of women in the society was confined to a limited list ofresponsibilities. Consequently they were considered a minority. Thesociety made women believe that they were incapable of performingduties outside the confinement of their homes. As such they were tostay at home, to cook, care for children, wash and clean or any otherhousehold chores (Chapman, 2013). This mind set was deeply instilledin women for a long time, not until in the recent when womendiscovered that they as well could do other things outside the homeand contribute to social economic development of the country throughthe popular feminism movement.
Thechallenge of the notion that women are confined to domestic choreshas led to significant change to the way women today live. Women oftoday have a choice to a broad range of roles in the society. Theyhave participated in virtually all roles and responsibilities thatpreviously were reserved for their male counterparts (Hochschild &Machung, 2012). They have actively engaged in masculine related jobslike engineering, politics, leadership among other activities likesports including boxing and wrestling. Although the role of a homemaker still exists, it is not the norm nowadays. Working outside thehome for many women whether part time or full time have become atrend in most societies, even in the most reserved traditions likeAfrican culture (Hochschild & Machung, 2012). Most women of todayhave no option but to work outside the home in order to havefinancial freedom.
Unlikein the past where men were the sole bread winners, women today havetaken the role of taking care of the families, not only in terms ofproviding domestic services, but contributing to the family’sincome. At the same time, there are those women who still believethat they are responsible for staying home and taking care of theirchildren, watch them grow, instill morals and values and generally behome makers. The issue of social capital also affects mothersgreatly. Social capital entails the time and energy that parentsdedicate on their children. It is the quality and the quantity ofassociation and bonds that are created among family members. Workingmothers may have reduced social capital which may influence theability to instill appropriate social behaviors in children(Hochschild & Machung, 2012). Further, as more mothers withinfants and small children continue working outside the home, thesocial capital is no doubt greatly affected.
Someof the reasons that have pushed women to seek employment or workoutside their home are the increasing demand for materialistic lifein the modern society. People today value expensive houses, cars,fashion and lifestyles. Men alone are not able to supply everythingat home especially during times when the cost of living has continuedto rise. Women find the need to chip in and compensate for thisdeficit. Sometimes, women prefer to take care of their children athome and be home makers during this time (Maume, 2006). Soon aftertheir children join full time schooling, they become flexible topursue full time jobs. This way, they feel free to be away from theirchildren since they are in school.
Whereasin the past men felt threatened by working women, today the notionhas changed. More men are comfortable with their wives going to workoutside the home than before. This is due to the contribution thatwomen make to the family’s financial resources, that it so neededfor modern day families (Hochschild & Machung, 2012). In someinstances, women have taken the sole responsibilities of providingfor their families like in the case of single mothers or in the casewhere the father is incapable of providing due to lack of employmentor health problems or death. In some families, women make earn moreincome than their husbands and they are able to support theirfamilies.
Nevertheless,many men seem to be uncomfortable with their wives earning more thanthem. It seems the traditional stereotype of women as home makers andlimited to domestic chores still dominates in the minds of some men.They perceive it inappropriate for women to earn more in a family.They believe this makes them less of men if they entirely rely ontheir wives to take care of the family, a role traditionally reservedfor men. Generally, the society has accepted that women have equalability and opportunity like their counterpart male. Women take uproles and responsibility equal to men and men have also foundthemselves assisting in domestic chores that were previously seen asreserved for women. This change of roles and acceptance of equalityhas not been without challenges. Feminists have complained that,women are underpaid in jobs that are traditionally seen as men’s.For example, women managers may be paid less than their counterpartmale (Duehr & Bono, 2006). Other controversies arise regardingwomen’s credibility to handle certain duties or responsibilities inthe workplace. Often, they have been seen as having a sexual relationwith their bosses to earn such positions as managerial positions.This has not deterred women from pursuing their careers though. Therole of women has changed significantly over the years and women havedominated in the roles previously reserved for men.
Chapman,E. (2013). Howto be a Good Wife.Macmillan.
Duehr,E. E., & Bono, J. E. (2006). Men, women, and managers: arestereotypes finally changing?. PersonnelPsychology,59(4),815-846.
Hochschild,A., & Machung, A. (2012). Thesecond shift: Working families and the revolution at home.Penguin.
Maume,D. J. (2006). Gender differences in restricting work efforts becauseof family responsibilities. Journalof Marriage and Family,68(4),859-869.