” Her goal was to show that the sex-specific roles we in western society consider appropriate and “natural” are not universal, and that gender expectations are subject to as much variability,” as stated by Mark Moberg in his book Engaging Anthropological Theory. Margaret Mead believed that your role in society as a male or female is malleable and culturally-determined and this was something she argued against the American view on gender roles. Americans believed that male and female roles were inevitable, that the males were seen as the breadwinners and females were seen as playing domestic roles.
In America, those roles seem to be switching. I myself work with a man who works part-time and stays home to take care of both his and his wife’s children. He even says he prefers this. He works nights, where-as his wife works during the day. His wife herself works a fairly decent job and they are able to afford a home. For the husband to be considered the breadwinner these days seems kind of far fetched and a notion that is disappearing some what. Wives are becoming extremely successful with more opportunities now open for women in the job market. Men seem to enjoy staying home with their kids these days as opposed to working a job where they rarely get to see their own families.
However, Margaret Mead’s idea of your gender role is not so far fetched either. I believe there is a mixture of culture and just a personal choice that goes on when it comes to gender roles.
“One in three men surveyed do not allow their wives to wear the clothes of their choice, 66 percent of the men believed they had a “greater say than their wife/partner in the important decisions” that affected the family and 75 percent of men expected their partner to agree to sex.” This quote I took from an article that speaks of a study done in India. This article proves as just one example that shows culturally how men view their women in society and who plays a larger role when it comes to decision making and basically who “wears the pants” in the relationship. In India, the women are looked down upon and are not seen as being capable of making important decisions within the household, let alone their own decisions on what clothes they would like to wear for the “Day. In a sense it kind of looks as if the women are treated as children.
Moreover, 52 percent of the women surveyed reported they had “experienced some form of violence during their lifetime,” while 60 percent of men claimed they had “acted violently against their partner at some point in their lives.””
In this culture, violence is seen as normal in this society and it is usually brought on by the male role asserting their dominance within the marriage. Not only is violence a huge way of asserting the male dominant role in this society, there is also a larger preference for the son’s. This study also showed that within the society, due to the lack of females in India and such a boom in male births, women are normally shared among brothers. There is more sex trafficking that goes on and a higher amount of abuse that occurs.
A major thought that occurred to me and question was, why do men see themselves as the “masters of the Universe”? Why do these men treat the women so poorly within the Indian culture? Though lets not forget how women are treated in the Middle East as well. Is it because these countries are considered some what poor and incapable of taking care of their own? Poor living conditions can lead to stressful situations, including poor working conditions. When someone brings home a meager paycheck and is expected to support a family with it, the money only goes so far. Certain amenities cost a lot of money. This can also lead to theft and sometimes even worse. When a woman stands up to abuses and the “cultural norms” they are considered a traitor and must be punished. Punishment can be seen as “putting someone back in their place” or in the middle east, it can also be seen in a form of death; death by stone. (Throwing stones at someone until they are pummeled to death.) Women over the years and even men within a society that have been seen as the “lesser stag” are kept down and expected to keep silent and just do what you are meant to do day in and day out. Women are expected to bare children, cook, clean and keep their heads down. This is also an expectation of some men in western society these days and can even be seen in politics. Bullying and stating women belong in a kitchen is very male chauvinistic. There are men who do not think women can be a part of infantry within the military, though they have proven time and time again they can do what men can. They do not think a woman can shoot a rifle or a snipe without fear. They have also been very wrong about that. Is it possible that men fear women in a way? If so, why do they fear women? Why is change such a big problem? Women have ruled, women have run for President now, women are lawyers and so on. The same can be said about men switching up roles. Men can be stay at home fathers and take care of their children, men CAN be nurses and do a great job of it, men can sew, men can cook and that list goes on! Why is it so hard to believe that gender roles can be switched up between males and females?! It has been proven time and time again that people are capable of doing the unthinkable and they are more then intelligent enough to perform a task just as well as the next person.
http://www.borgenmagazine.com/gender-roles-india/ – Gender Roles in India. Reedy, Katrina. January, 29th, 2015.
Engaging Anthropological Theory. Moberg, Mark. Page 162-163.