The Issue of Gender Roles in Society

Category: Gender Roles
Last Updated: 11 Mar 2023
Pages: 4 Views: 23

Gender: The Abstract Specificity

In the shifty moral guidelines of today’s modern society, the specificity of gender is no longer a rule in the game of life that deals out specific roles to those who were dealt the gender they were born with, as much as it is a specific set of psychological and physiological traits that we choose whether or not we as individuals care to follow. Now obviously, there are huge differences between a man and a woman, however, there is no reason to assume these differences with everybody, for we are all individuals and thus all completely different from one another. John Gray, in his book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, John Gray discusses these gender differences but fails to understand the concept of individualism, especially in today’s culture.

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He writes, “A man’s sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. A Woman’s sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships”. It is the use of the word “defined” that causes Gray to incorrectly label these generalizations. Although men and women both possess very specific and necessary traits that distinguish differing emotional conclusions, it is incorrect to “define” one gender from possessing one dominant emotion that differs from the other gender, because women are often reliant on achieving results in order to stay successful, men frequently find themselves in positions where they are not able to achieve results and yet do not feel any less as a result, and women and men are often demanded to carry out acts inconsistent with their gender with little or no negative effect to his/her personal view of his/her own self-worth.

Often times, women are put in positions where their ability to achieve results is worth more than their emotional or relational capacities. In Fitzgerald’s classic, “The Great Gatsby”, he writes these characters that are synonymous with the 1920’s in the way that their actions directly contradict what one would expect of their genders. One of Fitzgerald’s creations, the golfer Jordan Baker, is one of these contradictory characters. Nick, another character in the novel, describes Jordan Baker. “She was a golf champion, and everyone knew her name” (Fitzgerald 62).

Jordan Baker was a moderately scandalous player, as she was known to cause controversy by discretely moving her ball or otherwise altering the game. She was dishonest and aggressive. Now, these are not particularly traits that would associate so much with social and emotional reasoning as much as a direct way to achieve results, which is directly contradictory to Gray’s thesis. Baker is a sports player, a seeker of results, and that is how she finds her worth, and thus cannot be put in a box as to how her gender should enable her to act.

Often times, men fail to find results in their work, and yet it does not alter their personal definitions of themselves. Dave Barry is one of these men. Barry’s essay, “Lost in the Kitchen”, humorously reflects Barry’s inability to utilize the kitchen. “I would no more enter that kitchen than I would attempt to park a nuclear aircraft carrier” (Barry 73), states Barry, implying that the results of entering the kitchen would rival the disaster of an attempt to park an aircraft carrier. If his self-worth was completely reliant on the results that he achieved, then he would force himself to learn how to create the necessary results in the kitchen, but instead he is content to watch football. Clearly, this is contradictory to the traits assigned to his gender, and further pushes the fact that individual people are not restricted by the labels placed on their gender.

In the same way males do not always need to create results to find their self-worth, neither do women need to rely on their emotions. In fact, both genders often find their worth in things that are completely inconsistent with what is expected of them. In Sojourner Truth’s famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, she highlights some very unfeminine acts of hers that she was forced to do, and yet she uses them to define her worth as a woman. “I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?” (Truth 247).

She had done all of this incredibly difficult work, all while enslaved. There was no room for finding emotion or self-worth to value herself with. Whatever work she did in the day is what she had to be proud of. If her self-worth was dependent on what was required of her as a woman, then she would not have survived. Therefore she cannot be a supporter of gender labels, and thus nor should we.

All of us, being assigned a gender, are subject to specific necessary physical and psychological differences from the opposite sex. However, especially in today’s society, these boundaries are no longer as culturally significant as they used to be, and the gender of an individual does not dictate how they feel and what they think. Gray may think that women are different from men because they value their feelings and men value their results, but this is a gross generalization and should only be considered lightly, because clearly it is not hard to find men that identify with feelings and women that identify with their success. Gender is a factor in how we think, but is not an ultimate factor in how an individual chooses to find their identity.

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The Issue of Gender Roles in Society. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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