Traditional gender roles have existed for many centuries. Throughout the history of humanity among various cultures and eras, there are pieces of evidence and traces of unfair treatment of women. Women have a role of a wife waiting for her husband to return from the war, a mother of the conquering hero or a great scientist, or a daughter who is destined to marry the prince of another country in order to consolidate the alliance between the two countries. Life of a woman was determined by the man, whether it be her father, husband or son.
It is not surprising that such a position in society led women to fight. Starting with the suffragettes and finishing with the third wave, feminism has become an integral part of the society. Women opened new potentials the existence of which was previously questioned. Feminism gave them a choice and an opportunity to decide their fate. It is reasonable to say that women’s position in the society has changed drastically to the positive side over the last couple of decades.
Prominent women like Olympe de Gouges and Marry Wollstonecraft have paved a road for such changes. However, the system that existed for several thousand years cannot collapse in a century. Traditions maintained for centuries do not disappear so effortlessly, especially when they are supported by a majority. Respectively, the issue of gender stereotypes is still a relevant problem in the modern society that has to be solved in order to establish the true equality between genders.
At the first glance, it might seem like women received all the rights they were fighting for: access to education is available to anyone despite their sex, they have a right to divorce their husbands or not to get married in the first place, and they have a right to vote; therefore, they now recognized as individuals who play an important political role on the global arena. Olympe de Gouges agrees, “Male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally eligible for all honors, positions, and public offices according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents” (2).
Alexandra Kollontai adds, “There is no escaping the fact: the old type of family has had its day” (4). Indeed, the world transformed into a safer place for women. However, it is a generalized statement for not each county has gone through the same process and, therefore, solved these problems effectively. To say that gender issues are no longer relevant is to ignore the troubles the woman have to face outside of the first world countries; therefore, to ignore the experiences of the majority of women of this planet.
Moreover, even in the United States and the most “progressive” European countries gender stereotypes still exist: generally, girls are expected to be more polite, well-behaved, and calmer than boys, and gradually it leads to girls being more passive and less assertive, which, in turn, results in women not caring as much about reaching higher levels in their chosen careers. Virginia Woolf wonders, “[I]n a hundred years, I thought, women will have ceased to be the protected sex… Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation, I thought” (7).
Indeed, as Woolf predicted, it is not as easy to surprise a modern man with a woman “driv[ing] and engine” as it was a hundred years ago. However, across the world there are beliefs shared by man and women alike that some jobs are done better by men and some jobs are created to be done by women. Moreover, men’s jobs are typically considered to be those that require to be active and assertive and, in many cases, the ones that depend on mathematical abilities and the ability to apply logic.
Respectively, women’s jobs –considering that a person believes that a woman can work in the first place – are the ones that do not require applying science and being assertive. Such jobs usually directed on nurturing, like a nurse or a nanny at the kindergarten. Naturally, these jobs are paid less and imply less career growth opportunities. Moreover, in some countries, like Russia, there are lists of professions that women cannot access. Alexandra Kollontai argues, “[Such measures are needed to insure the happiness of women themselves.
The list of such professions was first introduced in the thirties of twenties century in USSR, and this list only includes professions that can harm women’ health. Women are the stronghold of the society because of their ability to give birth to new citizens of this country. ] Communist society wants bright healthy children and strong, happy young people” (3). Olympe de Gouge objects, “Woman has a share in all the duties and in all the painful tasks; therefore, [it is only fair if a woman can share with a man the duty to work in the areas that require physical strengths and might be considered dangerous].
Social distinctions can be based only upon the common utility. [However, the common utility does not mean that all the women are incapable of a specific tasks and society will benefit from them restraining from doing it]. Woman is born free and remains equal to man in her rights [and duties]” (1). Besides, there is a belief that if women indeed want to be equal to men, they cannot merely work in the mine and serve in the army but absolutely have to be ready to do it and take a punch from a man whom she might have offended as well.
Virginia Woolf says, “[These are the laws of the man’s world, the world where women cannot exist as individuals]. Women have served all these centuries as looking–glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. [Therefore, when a man says that since a woman is equal to him now, he can punch her, he does not see a person who is, in fact, equal to him; he sees a reflection of himself, a man who is accustomed to violence and brutality and whose male friend and relatives share this world view.
Moreover, he might be afraid of a new women’s power for if a woman can perform the same tasks as he can], she [is no longer] inferior [and a man] would cease to enlarge” (4). Thus, gender stereotypes can still be encountered in the modern world, and they can be explained in different ways. However, Marry Shelley decides to join the discussion, “[It was previously mentioned that women’s role in the society is usually directed on nurturing; nevertheless, I think that it is not necessarily a bad sign. Nurturing a child is just as important as building bridges and driving an engine.
Moreover, nurturing is what can help create a better society where everyone is equal for if a nurturer teaches a child compassion, love, and empathy, such child, who will eventually become an adult, can spread the lessons of sympathy among other members of the society and teach their own children the same lessons. The unfortunate truth is that, indeed, many men are brought up to be aggressive and consider themselves superior to women. They are less tied to the domestic matters and their families than women; however, I think it is wrong and man and women must cooperate and mutually depend on each other.
Victor’s ego brought his miseries on him as he became less and less involved in his family and more and more in his harmful researches. Then, he was not able to nurture his creation not only right but at all. The only things that the creature knew were violence and rejection; therefore, he became a monster for he was treated like one. Victor has failed his creation, his child. However, there is a possibility that a compassionate woman might have changed the course of this story.
If she were to give the creature a loving home and protection, he would have been nurtured a different way and there would not have been a disaster for Victor’s family. Naturally, women must not be treated unfairly; however, jobs like a nurse and a nanny are just as important for the people as any other more masculine professions]. ” However, although nurture is indeed a very important part of becoming an individual, a woman must not be pressured to become a stereotypical nurturer, who is here when a man needs an advice or a warm hug.
There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to become a nanny; nevertheless, women are still pressured to choose between working and being a mother and are condemned if they spend more time working than nurturing their children. Olympe de Gouges adds, “Woman… remains equal to man in her rights [; therefore, their duties are equal as well and men should participate in nurturing children equally to women]” (1). Respectively, the stereotype of a woman nurturer still exists and must be addressed; however, a woman who wishes to be a housewife and a woman want to build her career must be respected equally in this debate.
Some people believe that gender roles have purely natural background, meaning that the fact that women are seen as inferior takes roots in their natural inability to behave rationally, think logically, and be physically hardy. However, it can be argued that gender roles and stereotypes were socially constructed and exist up to today because it is not easy to escape centuries of false beliefs in a matter of a hundred years. Jean Baudrillard says, “It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. It is a hyperreal, produced from a radiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere.
Gender stereotypes are a simulacrum because their existence fully depends on whether or not people believe in their existence. This simulacrum is so deeply ingrained in the society that it come to represent the actual reality for people of all genders]” (2-3). Therefore, for a person to stop acting referring to their gender roles is to accept that they are, in fact, socially constructed hyperreality. Naturally, it can be extremely hard to do considering that a person was brought up with such values and behaved in accordance to them. It requires some knowledge and willingness to accept gender stereotypes as a simulacrum.
Whether or not people agree that gender roles are the example of a simulacrum, they exist and they are harmful. Frequently women are being treated unfairly because of the gender roles traditionally ascribed to women that they do not display. In other cases, women are not being taken seriously because they do display gender stereotypes. Therefore, each woman’s experience is valid and must be considered. However, a woman must not be pressured to decide her destiny by anyone and only she must be in charge. Thus, gender roles and stereotypes must be addressed in every sphere of life starting with ones family.