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The events of the past decade of the millennium have had a significant influence on the gender roles. Study of gender has emerged as a central trend in sociology. Sociologists must account for effects of the millennium recession and the global patterns. This paper documents the evidence for the traditional gender roles (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). It is important to link sociological explanation of gender with other disciplines such as sexuality in order to understand the traditional concepts of gender.
Sociology is concerned with the human behavior and how it is shaped by the group life. Research on gender indicates that the social interactions in the society are influenced by gender. Explanation of gender has formed a foundation of the theoretical and empirical studies (Morris, 2006). The paper will provide evidence of constant reinforcement of the gender roles. Additionally, the paper will explain the changing gender roles in the society.
A role is an expected behavior, which is associated with the social status. Societal norms dictate the gender roles since they are the rules that determine the privileges and responsibilities that the social status accords to a person. Female and males, daughters and sons, and mothers and fathers are statuses that are attached to the gender roles. The social status of the mother calls for a certain set of roles such as loving, nurturing, home making and self-sacrifice. The social status of the father calls for the expected role of the breadwinner or the main provider for the family.
Fathers are also disciplinarians, hands on person and the highest decision making authority. The society allows for some levels of flexibility of the gender roles such that in times of rapid change, the clarity of the society-imposed gender roles is always at a flux (Morris, 2006). The most important change in the United States labor market is the increase of women in the labor force.
Mothers are moving towards employment and the traditional gender roles are always changing. The changes in gender roles leads to a situation whereby the society becomes normless since the traditional gender roles have changed and new norms are yet to be developed. For instance, the change in gender roles from home based unpaid role to permanent employment in organizations led to a norm less situation. This was particularly aggravated since the mothers with preschool children were on the forefront of the change.
Before the onset of the modern colonial family, the gender roles were specifically different from the usual. Families were larger and the concept of the nuclear family was nonexistent. Working was done in the communal manner whereby the families would work towards a common goal. If it were construction, all members of the extended family would play their role in the project (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). Everyone’s input was set even though the men were the main technical people as it is today.
However, the colonial and Christian backed notion of the family unit led to the creation of a new norm in the society, which placed the men as main providers for their family. The extended family was increasingly becoming annihilated from the decision making process since most of the economic changes did not permit them to work in a certain manner. Creation of the ideal family was solely dependent on the newly formed norms. These norms of the patriarchal society have dominated the society leading to the development of a certain perception of the gender roles until recently when their fundamental foundations have been tested.
Key concepts in gender
Statuses and roles in the society allow the people to live in consistent and predictable manner (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). The roles and statuses work hand in hand with the established norms to prescribe the behavior of the society and ease the interaction between the people that occupy different social statuses and roles regardless of whether the interacting parties have prior encounters with each other.
Predictability is insidious since when the normative roles are too rigid, the freedom of action is greatly hindered. Rigid definition of the social roles has led to the development of stereotypes concerning the gender roles whereby the oversimplification of the conceptions of the people that belong to the same social statuses leads to the discrimination of other people. However, in rare occasions, the stereotypes can include positive aspects.
Traditional stereotypes of the gender roles are developed according to the traits that the social groups are supposed to possess. Women are presented as flighty and beyond the control. This assertion is mainly developed due to biological fact that they possess ranging hormones that predisposes them to unpredictable emotional based judgments. The assignment of the aforementioned stereotypes is uncalled for since there is a tendency of developing sexist attitudes towards the women (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007).
The society is at risk of assuming that the women are inferior due to the inability of acting rationally. It is important to note that not only women experience negative gender based stereotypes. The prominence of the negative stereotypes on women comes from the fact that the social statuses occupied by women are more stigmatized than the ones occupied by men. For instance, women are more likely to occupy statuses inside and outside the home setting that are deemed inferior compared to the men. The beliefs of inferiority of women due to their biological make up are traditionally reinforced and later used as a basis for sexist discrimination.
Sexism thrives on the patriarchal systems, which have male dominance and overt discrimination of women. Patriarchy exhibits male centered norms hence it is androcentric. Sexist beliefs are reinforced when patriarchy and androcentricism combine to propel the notion that the gender norms are biological and permanent. For instance, the belief those women are unsuitable for any other role apart from the domestic chores has been a major hindrance of development among the societies in the developing world. This is the case mainly because there is a preference of the male children when it comes to education opportunities. The perception has led to the installation of the male members of the society as the authors, disseminators and enforcers of the gender based roles.
Gender vs. Sex
There has always been a considerable level of confusion regarding the differences between sex and gender. However, increasing research has led to the development of more awareness on the major aspects that distinguish sex from gender. Sex is biological since it focuses on the anatomical features that distinguish a male from female and vice versa. The biological definition of the females and males focuses on the genetically make up, hormones, anatomy and other features that come from the physiology.
Gender is a social construct. It is the social and cultural aspects of the male and female that have been propounded though the different social contexts. Sex only applies in the distinction of the male and female while gender determine who is masculine or feminine. Sex is ascribed to the person at the time of birth while gender has to be learnt from the norms and practices of the society.
Evidence reinforcing traditional gender roles
Gender roles are evident in the mainstream media. Media prays women as nurturing and gentle since they have to take care of other members of the society. They are often concerned with their appearance and that have to ensure that they have the right appearance and poise since it is required of them to ascribe to the norms imposed on them by the society. Women are also depicted as emotional and they make their decisions according to how they feel even when the evidence points out that the decision based on feelings is unattainable.
Men are depicted as logical since they try to attain the best outcome out of the situation that they are undergoing. Competitiveness is a major aspect of the male gender role that comes out in the media. For instance, men watch and participate in rough sports to display their competitiveness. Men are also displayed as aloof in that they work alone towards the attainment of a certain goal. However, when they work in a group, there is always a high degree of dominance of the group decisions by a certain member. This member is the alpha male and is independent. The media also sells the proposition that men are more dominant over the women. The media portrays the women as emphatic more than it portrays their male counterparts.
The media is more likely to display women as sex objects as opposed to the men. Media is awash with necessary images of women that create a surreal expectation. The female body is normally used to advertise things that are sexual in nature. For instance, the video games display women with large breasts and attractive. Their role to the development of the plot is usually limited since they are only in the video game for their sexual aspects (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007).
There is also constant pressure among the women to attain certain standards of beauty due to the constant reinforcement of some perceptions of what makes one beautiful. Some of the media content places pressure on women on not only their bodies but also their attractiveness and marital status through content full of beautiful, young and single women (Morris, 2006). Women often dress in a provocative manner compared to men due to the media imposed stereotype that the women have to maintain a certain appearance.
Media programs display the teenage girls as overtly passive. The teenage girl in the media is concerned with her appearance, shopping or relationships, which are superficial topics. The teenage girls that stray from the norm always end up being outlasted since they chose better topics such as career development. The irony of this stereotype is that the girls are the ones that are responsible for hindering their own development while the society seems innocent (Morris, 2006). The reality is that the society has engineered the societal norms with accuracy and there is no way that one can distance the society role in the media stereotype creation.
Media also reinforces the traditional roles of the women and men by indicating the men as the better-paid employees in the organization. The media has the ability to come up with the right approach to the women but it seeks to propound the real life experiences of the women. The job positions displayed in the media are better paying and more prestigious when they are occupied by men (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). The occasional strong woman figure is juxtaposed with a lower cadre employee with a sense of amiability and social acceptance. The media will make the lower cadre employee look better in the audience compared to the executives. The executives are always displayed as sad members of the society whose life rotates around the work situation.
Their distinction from the job is highly unlikely since they exist only to work since they cannot fulfill the traditional roles (Morris, 2006). The conspicuous effort of the media to display the women in certain manner has led to the propulsion of the notion that there are some roles that the women have to fulfill failure of which they have to accept the description accorded to them as empty mechanistic people (Morris, 2006). The homemakers in the media are lauded for their selfless efforts in the sustenance of the family unit and their knack for performance. This leads to the reinforcement of the traditional gender role for the women as the homemakers due to their nurturing role. Downplaying the input of the single executive in the workplace is a sexist move meant to propound the notion that women re inferior to men.
Effects of exposure to media
Media is a major influencer among the young generation members. The children that are exposed to multiple gender images will most likely adopt the stereotype since it is a norm. Fewer children will work with the counter stereotype. The stereotypes have negative effects of lowering the self-esteem and dignity of women. Some of them are changing their outlook since they have mounting dissatisfaction with their bodies (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). Images of lonely and isolated executives have the effect of hindering the career development among women.
The media reinforced gender roles regarding the behavior of men and women leading to entrenchment of the practices of the society along the gender roles. Studies indicate that TV viewership can reinforce the attitudes of the women towards themselves and subjects such as career. The consistent messages passed through the mainstream media have two effect, in the first instance; the consistent messages can reinforce the traditional beliefs such that the women that were trying to work against the grain are forced to conform to the traditional perceptions of the gender roles. The second effect of the media is the creation of new perceptions of gender whereby there are new aspects of gender that all the women learn. Changing perceptions can alter the gender roles if they are strong enough.
In conclusion, traditional gender roles persist due to the increasing reinforcement of the said roles by the media. Media depiction of the two genders leads to the reinforcement of the traditional gender roles whereby the boys are termed to be different from the girls. The media also portrays what becomes of the women or men that do not work according to the gender roles since they become pariahs in the society (Aalberg& Jenssen, 2007). In order to be a member of the society, a person is forced to conform to the gender roles.
Aalberg, T. & Jenssen, A.T. (2007). Gender stereotyping of political candidates: An experimental study of political communication, Nordicom Review, 28, 17-32.
Morris, P. (2006,). Gender in print advertisements: A snapshot of representations from around the world. Media Report to Women, 34, 13-20.
In comparison with other works by Jane Austen, there are several aspects revealed in Mansfield Park that differentiates it from the rest of her works. Apparently, the book, written in the 18th century when feminism came to existence in the west, has a strong incorporation and demonstration of the social aspect through the characters (MobileReference 23). During this period, women suffered low social statuses while compared to men. In addition, during the period, women were under chronic oppression caused by men. However, a time propels and the great work by Jane develops, female begin developing a cautious point of view with respect to men where they believed to share equal rights with males. Henceforth, it is during the 18th century when female begin their strong quest of striving for their rights.
In the book, women have a thorough rough time. As demonstrated in the great work, women only have a choice of either saying yes or no when male proposes to them. Apparently, as developed in the book, it can be perceived that they have an obligation of getting married. Consequently, it is obviously outright that their future lives are strongly dependent on their nature of men they marry. In Mansfield Park’s society, fairness and equality does not exist. The inequality prevails not only in the position and in role played by the individuals in the society but also by the social rules guiding the cohesive existence in the society. In addition, gender roles face great influences from class, age and wealth of individuals in the society.
In her work, the author demonstrates her hero by placing females in a solely feminine society that is not considerate on equality and fairness of the occurrences. The discussion below focuses on developing a comprehensive analysis of the position of women in Mansfield Park.
Apparently, as developed earlier, the author depicts women in the book as inferior in comparison with men. Supporting the argument, considering the relationship between Mrs. Norris and Fanny, a strong revelation of dominance. In other words, the author describes the relationship as having aspects of dominator and vassal (MobileReference 27). A great aspect of oppression develops in the relationship where Mrs. Norris appears sterner and high-demanding character with a strong quest of dominating over Fanny. Additionally, she oppresses Fanny’s mind thereby forming a conflicting personality trait to Fanny’s trait. The aspect of oppression depicted by these characters are just some mere examples from the great work, contributing to the overall harsh conditions that women are in the Mansfield Park.
Women struggle is versatile in the book. This demonstrate the great intentions of surviving under long periods of oppression and henceforth they cannot express their thoughts and ideas to the dominators and other males in the society. It is due to the vast effect of the struggle that Fanny develops a unique manner of adjusting to the difficult environment in the Mansfield Park. The aspect of feminism is strongly significant in the analysis of women contexts in the book as it demonstrates a response mechanism used for coping with the hard environments. In the women’s quest for freedom, a strong aspect of cowardice is evident. As in the case of Fancy, she takes a significantly long time before responding to the oppression. She compromises the oppression from the dominators where she hides all her unwillingness to the oppression and develops methods of satisfying the high demands from the oppressors. In other words, women in the Mansfield Park are seemingly compromising in nature. Conversely, vassal characters such as Fanny have great perspectives of understanding her oppressors where she develops mechanism of avoiding irritating the dominators.
Compromise aspect of women in the society is prevalent. Vassal characters know and understand their oppressors more than they understand themselves (MobileReference 35). The pursue of understanding their oppressors is mainly focused at ensuring that they protect themselves and ensure that they do not get into troubles with them.
Another aspect about women portrayed in the book is the confined lack of choice. In a perfectly free society, love is free and women have rights of making choices of the men they want to marry. However, Fanny meets herself in a dilemma where she declines Sir Thomas marriage proposal. In his response, Thomas considered her as ungrateful. He was using his wealth as an attractive mood for Fanny. As a revelation to the position of lack of choice, this instance reveals an inferiority aspect and poor conditions attributed to women. On the other hand, Fanny wanted to be with Edmund. Despite her love for Edmund, the society places her at the center of influence from everyone else surrounding her where she understands that everyone else in the society has as well a significant input to the overall decision of getting married. Her refusal of Thomas makes her feel guilty and she is partially reluctant while making a consideration whether Thomas’ claims she is ungrateful are actually true. These aspects of life engagement choices strongly indicate that women in the Mansfield Park are precisely short of choices and their lives are under dictatorship from men.
Poor social statuses are other attributed positions of women in the Mansfield Park. According to the ideas highlighted by the author, Fanny’s family faces a great aspect of poverty. Hence, when she moves to Mansfield Park, life standards require her to put more effort in the quest of adjusting to the new life. As observed in her struggles, the adjustment is a great challenge for her as she faces complex manners in the high society and as well accommodating herself to the high standards in the Park. Throughout her struggles, she barely gets support from her relatives. However, Edmund realizes her struggles and assists her (MobileReference 36). It is during such instances where the author highlights that relatives have less or nil care and concern over their female relatives. On a different perspective, it the society can be perceived to be segregate women when out of their view. That is, it appears no relative cares for Fanny once she moves to the Park.
Lastly, on an evaluation basis, the author demonstrates women as enemies of themselves. Surprisingly, women do not support each other. As developed earlier in the case of Mrs. Norris and Fanny, it is obviously evident that the characters lack some sense of gender support. Despite both being female, Mrs. Norris oppresses Fanny. Similar instance appears when Maria and Julia start gossiping about Fanny once she moves to the Park. In their gossip, they view and tease her for lack of knowledge. Adding to the critiques is Mrs. Norris who strongly develop negative attitudes against Fanny that she loses her self-confidence thereby making her develop aspects of cowardice henceforth not brave enough to speak for herself. The case and challenges faced by Fanny increases when Mrs. Norris refuses to take responsibility when told to take care of Fanny.
In the book, women construct their identities through oppression and reliance on decisions made by other society members. Their continued struggle for freedom and position in the society is massively evident in Jane’s work as she outlines them as consistent inferior than males in the society. A comprehensive evaluation of Jane’s aspects regarding women’s role in Mansfield Park reveals that she is strongly against them. She strongly emphasizes a strong negative attitude on the oppressive moments experienced by women in the society. The picture developed is critique in nature as it significantly induces a negative attitude in the reader on the oppressive situations faced by certain female characters in the society (MobileReference 55). These aspects of commenting on the position occupied women reveal a strong feminine heroism of going against the perspectives developed by the society regarding women.
In conclusion, as developed in the review paper, the society places women on an inferior scale in comparison with other society members. In comparison with the real world, since 18th century, women are continuously striving to raise their social standards. Their struggles are evidently demonstrated in the Mansfield Park through Fanny, who despite the long-term oppression, figures out on the possible solution strategies of ending her oppression and struggles. Manipulation is a common aspect facing many women in the society (MobileReference 67). Their decisions remain prone to influence from men and social rules. Therefore, it is essentially for feminists to have a strategic approach towards ending their oppression.
MobileReference, . Mansfield Park: By Jane Austen. Boston: MobileReference.com, 2008. Internet resource.
The extract features a number of characters, but only one is actively involved. These characters include fanny, Sir Thomas, Mr. Crawford Julia and Maria. Sir Thomas is quite disappointed in fanny over her willfulness temper, self-conceit pervasiveness and great tendency to independence (Austen, 2012). According to Thomas, such behavior was unacceptable especially in a young woman. Apparently, fanny had made he own decision not to take Mr. Crawford’s hand in marriage without consulting anyone. In this context, she fully exercises her freedom.
In this context, the author brings up the theme of family relations. According to Sir Thomas, fanny has neglected her family and does not consider them in any of her decisions. in a harsh tone, sir Thomas says to Fanny, “ you have shown me that you can and will decide for yourself, without any consideration or deference for those who have surely some right to guide you, without even asking their advice” (Austen, 2012). From this statement, it is clear that fanny had kept her distance from the rest of the family. Conventionally, it is expected that a young girl such as Fanny should seek advice from the senior members when faced with a controversial situation like the one that was facing her.
In the extract, there is continued use of first person narration. This style of writing is used to stress the message being passed. Sir Thomas uses personal speech to stress his message to Fanny. Apparently, he is very disappointed with Fanny for her inappropriate behavior. He expresses his concerns with great bitterness to an extent that Fanny starts shedding tears. Use of first person narration also creates suspense that motivates the reader to find out what will happen after the great tension.
The extract features five characters; lady Bertram, Chapman, miss price, Fanny, and Mary. Mary is congratulating lady Bertram’s for the look she had put on Mrs. Price. Lady Bertram explains that she did not choose the clothes for her but instead sent Chapman to help her in the choice. Prior to the extract, Miss. Crawford and sir Thomas was engaged in chat about how fabulous fanny was in her dancing (Austen, 2012). As Sir Thomas watched her dance, he felt proud to have been a man who guided her and instilled good moral values in her. Despite the fact that Sir Thomas had wronged Miss Crawford severally, she was also impressed by the performance that fanny put across. She walked up to Sir Thomas and at least tried to say something agreeable about Fanny.
In this extract, the author again brings up the theme of negativity through Miss Crawford. She had withheld great negativity against him since he had wronged her severally. The author confirms the existence of negativity among the character but also portrays their ability to stand up above their negativities. Although Sir Thomas may also have had negative sentiments about Fanny owing to her withdrawn behavior, he was proud that she put up a good performance.
In this extract, the author introduces the theme of culture. The members of the community are taking part in a dance where Fanny portrays an outstanding expertise in the area of dance. Dress code that is an element of culture is introduced the discussion between lady Bertram and Mary creates an impression that the society have a particular dress code that is associated with the dance event (Austen, 2012).
The extract feature two characters in the story; Mrs. Thomas and Norris, Fanny’s aunt. They are discussing Fanny’s act of going out of the house without the consent of her aunt. Mrs. Thomas claims that if only fanny had told her that she was going out, she would have sent her with some orders for the nanny. She finds fanny’s act inconveniencing since she would have to undertake the chore by herself now that she never gave the orders. Prior to the extract, fanny was very worried that her aunt would quarrel her for not informing her that she was leaving the house.
The extract demonstrates the problematic relationship that exists between fanny and her aunt. Norris expresses her concern about fanny’s behavior that she defines as a little spirit for secrecy, independence, and nonsense. Although it is normal for teenagers to be withdrawn and distant from the family members and seniors, Norris comment is rather negative. Sir Thomas had similar sentiments about Fanny a while ago, but he also found Norris’s statement unjust (Austen, 2012). He tried to change the conversation that turned out to be a hard struggle. Finally, he succeeds in convincing Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Thomas to quit the discussion.
In this extract, the main style is flash back. Sir Thomas recalls some earlier sentiments that she had about fanny’s behavior. Coincidentally, Mrs. Norris her aunt also thought the same thing. Most of the events in this extract are presented through flashback or thoughts. The author introduces the theme of teenage rebellion in the story. Fanny is not only withdrawn but does not want to be instructed on what to do. This is a common change that occurs in teenagers.
The extract features two characters, Edmund, and Fanny. The conversation depicted in the extract is between Miss Crawford and Mary. The characters are having a discussion where Mary is requesting Miss Crawford to commend her for a job she did to the nurseryman. This discussion takes place at the wee hours of the night. He says she wants to be or feel rich. He associates a large income with happiness that is similar to what the rest of the society thinks. He believes it is in his capacity and power to be as rich as he wants (Austen, 2012). The one thing he detests most is poor.
Edmund abruptly puts on a stun that implies seriousness to Fanny, who is also following the discussion. Apparently the people whom Mary wants to be commended too, do not exist in the Mansfield Park
Miss Crawford has a different perspective towards wealth. Unlike the rest of the society, she does not envy the rich but has great respect for the rich and honest. She advices Mary that it is better to be honest and poor. According to Crawford, it is the only way through which a person could earn respect from others. She totally disagrees with Mary on her idea of yearning for a decent life during the hard economic times.
In this extract, the author introduces the dialog as the main style of writing. The two do not necessarily seem to be at peace with each other, and that’s why Fanny at some point thinks about leaving The Mansfield’s Park despite being late at night. The author introduces the theme of poverty and wealth concurrently through the perspectives of the actors towards the two (Austen, 2012).
Austen,.J. (2012). Mansfield Park. Retrieved on 9th December, 2014 from: http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/j-austen/mansfield6x9.pdf
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