The world is vastly different than it was 50 years ago, especially in the United States at the time when a wife stayed home, tended the house, cooked the meals, watched after the children, while the husband worked all day and came home to quiet, clean house, a hot meal and a slim, very subservient wife. She met him at the door in her apron, just after he closed the gate of their white picket fence. And if he didn’t come home right away from work, it meant he was out carousing with friends, co-workers or clients, maybe even getting involved with other, single women after long drinking bouts. And why shouldn’t he do all that? He was the man of the house after all, he paid the bills, put in long hours at the office, sacrificed his time for the good of the family. And his wife was supposed to take care of everything else. She answered to him, and not the other way around.
This was the accepted norm, and any couple that lived outside this norm was considered radical sinners against the American way and probably even Communists.
Boy, has life changed. Now, a woman are often the breadwinners of the family, supporting their children and even their husband who stays at home with the kids, fixes the meals, cleans the house and generally takes care of everything the wife doesn’t have time for. Or, in most cases the husband and the wife both work full-time jobs. They share all the responsibilities, they both cook the meals, together they look after the kids, and they share financial obligations and other responsibilities.
No particular way is better than the others when it comes to gender roles. But what matters most is how these roles are changing and becoming accepted by the American people as a whole. The old ways of doing things, when the way woman stayed at home while the husband worked, implied women were only meant for the home – and not meant for the job force. We all know now that this mentality is quite preposterous, misogynistic, oppressive and even cruel. Women can do anything a man does in terms of job performance. They are quite often better at the jobs men used to do, especially ones that involve patience, sensitivity, listening and empathy.
And if this country wants to progress and compete with other countries, and even one day surpass other countries in terms of quality of life, social equality, economics and other elements, it’s important we adopt a habit of acceptance.
Some men may want to continue the traditional gender roles out of insecurity; maybe it’s an ego thing and they feel emasculated because their wife is supporting them when their entire life they were told to “be the man of the house,” to be the big, brave lion and support a family. It’s quite pathetic to think that some men are so insecure and afraid of what people think to the point they are willing to disempower their female companion, their wife. Traditional gender roles masked the oppression of women who otherwise would have been productive, spectacular working members of society. This continued because men either thought women were inferior in intelligence and skill, or men oppressed women because they feared the women would become too powerful and control them.
Perhaps the men who openly upheld these gender norms were afraid of looking weak and not fulfilling their duty as a “man.” But the notion of what it means to be manly and strong is changing, too. Men are no longer considered good, strong men because of the mere fact that they support a family by working long, hard hours at the office. Nowadays, what constitutes a strong man and a good husband is having the strength to support a woman, their wife, in whatever endeavor she pursues. It means being tough enough to put his ego and emotions aside and encouraging the wife to be the best person she could possibly be.