Gender roles in society have existed for thousands of years and have been essential to the survival of humans. For instance, women in Native American tribes would go out and gather materials, care for the children, make clothing, and prepare the food needed for the tribe in order to survive. Men were expected to go out and hunt wild game, fighting in wars against neighboring tribes and colonizers, crafting tools for said wars, and building. This is only a snippet of what gender roles are in a specific society. Gender roles are very subjective in this day and age because of the progressiveness in our civilization.
Gender roles can be described as the way we act around others in our communities, speak, dress, and behave according to the sex we had been assigned at birth. In the Western culture of within the United States, females are usually expected to act with class, speak properly, be polite, and just be genuinely feminine. For men, they are expected to exert hyper-masculinity by being aggressive, showing strength, and being “macho”. However, this specific set of rules for women and men is very subjective and applies to most of the Western world. Countries in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, have strict gender roles. Women in particular are expected to conduct themselves in a certain way or they face the risk of dishonoring their family and even risk punishments as harsh as death.
Women in Middle Eastern countries rarely are able to participate in politics, walk the streets on their own, or marry who they please. These are the roles of most Middle Eastern women. Only in recent years have some of these expectations have changed. In 2015, Saudi Arabia passed a law stating that women have the right to vote and that same year they were able to run in elections like their male counterparts. Six years later a woman was finally appointed as a government minister. As for marriage, men are able to have multiple wives, but women are not. Divorce for men is as easy as saying “I divorce you” three times, literally that is how men in Saudi Arabia divorce their wives, but for women the process of divorce is long and painful. The woman loses custody of her sons and/or daughters, if they are a certain age, to her ex-husband.
Completely opposite of the gender role ideology of the Islamic society is Ancient Egypt. Women and men were equals and respected the same. Women had the same rights as men. Both sexes held similar positions of power. Of course women were most likely to cook and make clothing while men went out and fought in wars and provide food, but they were still respected in their roles. A woman could be a pharaoh just like a man could. Instead of major gender roles, there were classes. In just about each class the roles between women and men were respected equally
Gender roles definitely play vital role in my life. As a teenage female, I am not allowed to do the same things that teenage males are able to do, for “safety” reasons. Growing up I wasn’t allowed to spend the night with a female friend if she had older brothers. I always had to tell my mother of my new friend’s family members, who lived with them, and what their gender was. I understood that she was worried about me being taken advantage of, but it was honestly annoying. Girls being overpowered by men. An unfortunate gender role norm for me at that age. Another gender role norm for me is that I am not allowed to walk certain places by myself. I frequently visit North Carolina Central University on the weekends and I must admit that the surrounding area is known for being a little sketchy and dangerous at night.
I’m not allowed to walk alone around that area so I have to have my boyfriend walk me to and from certain places on campus. 91% of rape victims are female. My chances of being assaulted, trafficked, and/or abducted are too high to walk the streets alone at night. That’s my gender role norm. If I were a boy that would be different and even my mother said so. As a young woman, my gender role is much different than that of my brother’s and/or father’s. I have to be protected 24/7. I have to be alert at all times. I have to face the fact that as a female I am more vulnerable in today’s society and I have to be aware of my surroundings majority of the time just to stay safe.