Gender Roles, Work And Domestic Child Care Responsibilities
Throughout the years men and women have had strict and confined gender roles. Women are usually known for being meek, submissive, emotional, feminine and the main care providers for children as well as other domestic duties. Men are masculine, the bread winner, main provider, stoic and usually hard labor jobs. Throughout the year’s women have proven that they can make it in a man’s world, not only endure ridicule but thrive while, having it all. Women are encouraged to not only have a career but be a mother as well as a domestic goddess. While you find women breaking barriers, expanding their gender roles and in some cases, having it all, people seem to still see men in the same confined gender role. This leads some to ponder why is it easy to encourage women to break their mold, yet it is harder to encourage men to break theirs.
Keywords: Gender, roles, childcare
Changing Gender Roles
Throughout history women have fought for equal rights, starting with the right to vote in 1919 and leading up the feminist movement in the 1960’s. Even during these strides in history women have been in the category as care providers for their children, while the men work and provide. These roles were tested in World War II, and men were called off to war in hundreds of thousands to fight the Axis powers, and in the Pacific. While women enlisted and went overseas, those state side picked up the slack by working in dangerous jobs such as bomb factories and finding a way to maintain their home life with children. Men are still stuck in their category and it is harder to encourage them to step outside their role, due to ridicule and confinements. An example that is in recent movies is seen in Grownups one and two, Chris Rock’s characters Kurt is a stay at home dad. His mother in law, as well as friends poke fun at him constantly because he stays home with the kids while his wife is the provider. While the movie and jokes were extremely laughable, that type of reaction to a stay at home dad is common.
Strict Gender Roles
Women have been expanding the gender roles for years and not sticking to firm role, making it easier to encourage women to step outside away from caring for their children, unlike men being stuck in the same category of gender role. Women are encouraged to express their emotions, let it out otherwise it’ll bubble over. Emotions are usually considered a feminine quality, while men are left to bottle up their emotions, remain stoic and overall just suck it up (Rich). This often leads men to being unable to deal with their emotions (Rich). A fear of being ridiculed and restricted to a specific masculine gender role is another reason. Men are often stuck in a “rigid adherence to norms of a masculinity” that usually includes violence, self-reliance and emotional control (Rich). A study was performed by the American Journal of Men’s health and they found that these traits are learning through policing and fear based of not being masculine enough (Addis, Mansfield, & Syzdek, 2010). This learned behavior, makes it harder to encourage men to step up outside their confined role, and grow as women have been encouraged to do.
Easy for Women
While men have had a harder time breaking through their gender role, and views have changed drastically to encourage women to work outside the home. I myself grew up with someone who started out as a stay at home mom, but in my teen years she turned into a working mom. While the home dynamics changed some, my mom was still present at our various events, and developed a strong relationship with me as well as my siblings. At one time a single working mom was looked down upon, now they are more accepted and even given more options with their jobs. According to a survey done in 2008 mothers have less work-life conflict in the work place at 39% versus men who have about 45% conflict (Lewis). It is easier to encourage women to not only have a family, but motherhood doesn’t put a damper on their ambition or job responsibility (Lewis). While childcare is a worry, domestic chores have often fallen to women. In the same 2008 survey, men said they did at least 56% of the cooking, which rose from 34% in 1992, though women report 25% versus the 15% in 1992 (Lewis). Women have fought hard to break out of their confined gender role, making it easier to encourage to work outside the home an be able to have it all.
Paternity and Maternity Leave.
Balancing work once a child is born is a worry, labor and recovery time are something that can be over looked. Mothers have been given maternity leave, though it wasn’t made into a law till 1993 under FMLA. Mother’s can be given up to fourteen weeks unpaid leave, and fathers are given twelve weeks (Sodha). Given that both are unpaid leave, one of the two must go back to work, it often falls on the father since men typically earn a bit more and do not need the recovery time the mother needs after labor. If the father were to stay home, the family would take a financial hit (Sodha). The father going back to work, cuts into his bonding time and ties him to the provider, breadwinner role known to males. Even if a man works part-time to help accommodate child-care they are ridiculed compare to men who work longer hours to avoid that ridicule (Sodha). While FMLA givens men and women almost equal time off, the military has a drastic difference in time given off. A woman in the military is given up to twelve weeks off to heal and bond with her child, while a man’s paternity leave was recently bumped up to 21 days versus the 10-14 days previous slated. While men are allotted that time of free leave, it is not guaranteed they will get their paternity leave approved.
Throughout it has become easy to encourage women to work outside the home starting with the right to vote and the infamous Rosie the Riveter poster saying, “We can do it,” while leaving men in their enclosed role. The strides given to women, should be given to men as well when it comes to having a career while caring for their children. Men should have the same opportunity to have it all, like women do. Men shouldn’t have to fear ridicule or being considered unmasculine for being domestic or caring for their children. “Your genitals don’t define you! You are a person who is allowed to act authentically as your feelings and desires manifest themselves.” (Rich). This applies heavily since confined gender roles still have a strong presence today, especially among men and encouraging them to include child-care in their role.
- Sodha, S. (2018, March 25). Fathers want to take care of their children, too, but our very culture is against them | Sonia Sodha. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/25/paternity-leave-women-equality-gender
- Rich, J. D., PhD. (2018, March 21). Strict Gender Roles Hurt Men, Too. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/parenting-purpose/201803/strict-gender-roles-hurt-men-too-0
- Green, J. D., Kearns, J. C., Ledoux, A. M., Addis, M. E., & Marx, B. P. (2018). The association between masculinity and nonsuicidal self-injury. American journal of men’s health, 12(1), 30-40.
- Lewis, K. (2018, December 01). How Gender Roles Are Changing in the U.S. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/gender-roles-changing-in-the-us-3545177