“Historically, man has been obsessed with dominating the world, capturing animals, dissecting them, domesticating them. He has also fought wars of incredible destruction, against demonized enemies. ” (Blake, 1995) While the woman has been the keeper of the hearth and the nurturer of the family. Society has defined the way we look at ourselves in gender roles. Adopting one (gender role) means totally ignoring the other.
According to John Kennedy (1999), orthodox masculinity is the opposite of femininity. To find out the public’s opinion whether boys and girls have to be taught to be more masculine and feminine (respect ly), an interview was taken with two college students, one male and one female to get to get a better insight on this debatable topic. The interviews were conducted for about 15 minutes on the questions mentioned in Appendix 1 and the response from these interviews were not entirely what I had expected them to be. When asked to define their versions of “masculinity”, the response was somewhat the same from both the genders stating it as being – strong, brave, tough, confident, muscle-flexing and all in all ‘manly’.
Definitions for the term “femininity” were also asked for, while the male respondent stating it as being – calm, soft-spoken and sentimental, I found the female interviewee’s opinion on the subject was quite striking, to say the least, defining it as “painting your nails and doing nothing.” Being delicate is how I would summarize her outlook. However, these ‘genteel’ characteristics are not always portrayed in the woman of our modern world. It is quite common to see females acting somewhat masculine and vice versa. When asked to give some examples for such, instances like when women in high, dominant positions such as principals, presidents, bosses, and so on were brought up.
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Guys, on the other hand have seemed to have stuck onto their predestined roles as the only instances mentioned where guys had supposedly taken over a more ‘feminine’ characteristic was when they had been noted for being “sissy.” These are instances when a boy is noted to express his emotions in a manner of surrender or weakness, usually by crying. Expressing emotions has been the prime factor in the differentiation between masculinity and femininity. One would expect that the girl would find it easier to express emotion, however, this aspect of femininity seems to hold false as both my respondents mentioned that they would only do so rarely. They also stated that the people around them at that time would be a factor in their expressing of emotions. To get further in to the heart of the issue of expressing emotions, an indirect question was asked where the interviewees had to mention their reaction to a guy and girl expressing a lot of emotion. While the girl mentioned some concern on addressing a stranger, she did mention that she would go and try to offer some sort of comfort to the person no matter the gender.
The guy too mentioned that he would comfort the person. However, keeping in mind as to how encouragement of emotions among men is to be avoided at all cost (Blake, 1995), if the person were a guy, the interviewee mentions that he would ask the person to ‘pick himself up’ and ‘brace life as it comes’; rather than consoling him. Expressing emotions are considered as normal for girls and a drawback for the guys. Thus one tends to wonder – what exactly happens to those that are unable to conform to such rigid definitions for femininity and masculinity? Man is a social being. One of his major concerns is being accepted socially. On this subject, I expected the respondents to mention a fear or concern if a person does not conform to the standards of society – to consider him / her an outcast, a “different” person, not to be mingled with or to be associated with.
... there will be little chance of misunderstanding. To experience emotions and express them to another person is not only a major source ... relationships in which emotions are aroused and allowed positive expression. Feeling and expressing caring for another person, feeling and expressing love for another ...
This aspect was dealt with quite directly, with the interviewees being asked whether they thought that society would accept or bother with any one acting outside his / her assigned gender roles (masculinity / femininity ).
Surprisingly, both the respondents mentioned that society wouldn’t mind or be too bothered with these sorts of people. With answers like that, I think it can safely be said that society is pretty lenient on those not conforming completely to its standards. When given a choice to choose between being masculine and feminine, the outcome was as predicted.
Both genders preferred to be more masculine. A reason stated for such a choice was that being feminine meant to be dominated over at one point or the other. Kourlis puts it in a better way – “The general idea is that if one chooses to be successful professionally, one must not display feminine characteristics.” With social pressures such as having to wear make up, sitting right, watching one’s manners and dress code, it is no wonder that being feminine seems to be more of an undesirable field. Men on the other hand seem to have got it all, seeming not to be pressured at being masculine. Or so they claim. When asked how being masculine and feminine has helped society, the response was quite unexpected.
According to the interviewees, being only masculine or feminine doesn’t seem to be doing or society any good. It takes a bit of both to get it right. The world would not benefit from either too dominating people or from people acting too submissive. So far it (the world) has gotten along just fine with varied degrees of masculinity and femininity being portrayed in many different fields of activity.
Teaching boys and girls to stick to their specified gender roles can actually alter this distribution of activity roles, whether it be for the good or the bad. Should boys and girls be taught to be masculine / feminine based on their gender? According to the interviews taken, the response varied with the male proposing the motion – bringing up the need for such ‘education’ in cases where guys have been brought up in a house dominated by women and vice versa. Quite in opposition to his view, the female’s response was that neither of the sexes had to be “taught” to be masculine or feminine. According to her, these roles would come naturally to them by just watching the world around them.
... . "Individuals are born sexed but not gendered, and they have to be taught to be masculine or feminine" (Lorber, p.22).As a ... biologically different sexually, then they must play different roles in life. Biology between men and women is different. No one denies that ... we have no need to stray from the reality that society gives us. If we do we might be alienated, not ...
As a general, this education needs to be brought about only on a small scale – to those who have widely stepped over the boundary between masculinity and femininity, as the rest of the world seems to have gotten the right distribution of both gender roles (masculinity /femininity).
Though society has defined an image of the ideal man and woman, gender is not to be a bar to any goal. Both men and women, without pressure, should be allowed to live lives according to personality and not precision to social standards. Teaching of gender roles to boys and girls is to be done on a small scale – not to be drilled into them as if there were no other ways of life. 1) Kennedy, J.
(1999, November, 1, ), Rock hard guise. Retrieved November 11, 2002 web > 2) Blake, S. S. (1995), What’s Wrong With The Men? Retrieved November 11, 2002 web > 3) Justice Kourlis, R. L. , The Feminine in Feminism Retrieved November 11, 2002 web.