In order to be able to effectively discuss about gender roles and it’s effects in our society today, we must first define gender role.
Gender role is a set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality. Gender roles are usually centered on conceptions of femininity. The specifics regarding these gendered expectations may vary substantially among cultures and religions.
It is therefore possible to say that gender roles are cultural and personal. They determine how males and females should think, speak, dress, and interact within the context of society.
The gender roles adopted during childhood normally continue into adulthood as people have certain presumptions about decision‐making, child‐rearing practices, financial responsibilities at home. Gender role also play a major role in our work place as people attach certain roles and professions to gender. None of these however, is suggestive that gender roles, in themselves, are good or bad; they just exist and it’s left for us to choose wisely.
****Gender role in our today’s society****
Sometimes last year I boarded a bus from Onitsha to Lagos where I met a woman who said she lives in Ijebu Ode. During discussions with her, gender role came up and she told me that she can never let her husband wash the dishes even if she’s hospitalized. Wow, I thought to myself.
My cousin’s husband will pack his dirty clothes aside when my cousin is sick pending when she gets better and she doesn’t see anything wrong with that, even though she disliked it. Another wow!
You see, in our today’s society more women are the bread winners of their various families, a woman will wake up 04:00am, cook for the children and the husband (who is unemployed by the way), get them ready for school before setting off for her daily activities. She has also by the way subscribed to after school club to enable her pick the kids late.
This same woman will get home by 18:00 or 19:00, enter the kitchen to cook dinner after which she serves and wash up. While the husband stretches on the sofa and watch football or has gone out to drink with his friends. When he comes back he wants to wake the woman up to perform her wifely duty in bed.
Wow!!! Do I have a feeling that this woman is a machine?
So with this little narrative, isn’t it time for us to actually revisit gender role? Why can’t the man in the above story help the woman at least take care of the home front, while the woman concentrates on other things. Why do we have to keep thinking that men should not be allowed to do certain things or that women are not allowed to do certain things.
When men are bread winners, they do nothing else’s at home other than work, eat, watch tv and have sex. Why can’t it be that way for a bread winner woman?
As a result of gender role many women do not even know how to change an electronic bulb, which I found funny because if you live in a country where everything is DIY(Do it yourself) trust me you’ll learn. I also think that environment plays a major role in enhancing gender role. Everyone should learn how to do various things as no one knows where they’ll find themselves tomorrow.
The effects of gender role has given birth to a bunch of youths who think it’s ok to enslave another because the society, religion, culture and traditions say so.
It’s given birth to a society where people keep quiet when evil is being committed because certain gender are not allowed to talk about certain things according to culture, tradition and religion.
It has given birth to all forms of evils in our today’s society which in turn has given birth to a lot of domestic violence or even untimely deaths. It’s this same gender role that makes some people think it’s ok to come on Facebook and tell a woman what women are supposed to write and not write on their wall. Isn’t it funny how people think that because they control the subject they have at home, they can also come to the public and dream of doing the same to strangers they’ve not and may never meet in their lifetime.
Just the other week a 7 months pregnant woman was beaten to death by her husband simply because she did not wash the clothes he brought out for her to wash. Why couldn’t the man wash the clothes himself, why couldn’t he give her time to wash it in her own time, she’s pregnant remember?
We can go on and on but the truth is, what good has gender role done for us in our society? I personally do not think that a man should be bearing the cost of the family alone neither do I think that the woman should be single handedly caring for the kids and doing the house chores. There should be division of labour in everything, that way there will be happiness in the relationship but whereby there’s so much stress from one party, there’s always resentment, anger and frustration which in turn can lead to domestic violence, Illness and death.
In conclusion, let’s all help each other and build better relationships and in turn build a better society. It is a very dangerous, wicked, vindictive and malicious act for anyone to even have the thought to maltreat another because of gender, culture, tradition and religion.
In conclusion gender roles, is not healthy, and not ideal for today’s society.
Mrs Perpetua Ibeh is a Nigerian, lives in England. She is a registered nurse who specializes in adult intensive care. She is also a passionate women advocate.
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