The gender roles, or the fundamental behaviors assigned to women and men in a society, have been changing more rapidly since the industrial revolution. Yet as much as these roles have transformed over the last several decades, conflicting expectations and pressures still exist within our society that confuse societal interactions. While men and women are being pushed toward more equal roles within relationships and marriage, both are also being pulled back by more traditional values that are still strong today.
[...] These gender roles do not seem to be inherent to the person, but a social construct created through the observation of how one's parents divide the general family labor (Walsh, 2003). A study done by Mead in 1935 observed that gender roles differ within each society. So gender roles are something that is taught throughout one's life and learned from all around us. Our society needs to provide more opportunities to educate our youth in an alternative type of male-female relationships to those traditional within our society. [...]
[...] As a society we tend to encourage women from an early age to be attractive for men. Women who chose a professional life over a domestic one were “disparaged as unfeminine and neurotic” (Olson p. 129). Not only are young people influenced to fit into a proper gender role by media and parents, they are constantly confronted with these expectations by friends. Kerr points out the affects of these messages on young women of dating age by stressing the lengthy time spent on grooming themselves to attract prospective dates (2000). [...]
[...] Our American society needs to put more stress on the benefits of an egalitarian relationship, “those in which the partners have mutual respect for each other and share the power and the work of the relationship” (Kerr p. 148). The shared experience would balance the relationship better and perhaps result in increased happiness and less conflict. The social contradictions in the rules created by our culture inhibit the egalitarian nature of both public and intimate relationships. We must endeavor to overcome these perplexing inconsistencies, which only muddy the waters of gender interaction. [...]
using our reader.