The Pros & Cons of Gender Roles

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Times have changed significantly since the 1950s when men "brought home the bacon" and women focused on good housekeeping and child rearing. Gender roles have experienced significant alterations, such as "Mr. Moms," or men who stay home and take care of the children, while the woman acts as the main breadwinner. There are both pros and cons to these gender role modifications.

A Disadvantage for the Male Gender Role

In the past, men were traditionally socialized to be the "breadwinner" of the family. Men have had to make adjustments to the fact that, in today's society, their wife may earn more income than they do. Some men struggle with their male identity and self-image in this respect while other men come to terms with the fact that women can be independent and financially secure without their assistance.

A Positive Change in Male Gender Roles

Historically, men have been been seen as aggressive, competitive and taught that it was okay to use violence to settle disagreements. The expression "rule of thumb" came from English law where men were allowed to beat their wives with a piece of wood as long it wasn't wider than his thumb. In the past 20 to 30 years, there has been a significant anti-violence movement. Violence against women is no longer accepted or tolerated and men have become involved in campaigns to end abuse as a positive example.

Cons of the Female Gender Role

While women have integrated significantly into the workforce in the last several decades, few women hold positions as chief executive officers. According to a study by economist Stephen J. Rose at the consulting firm Macro International Inc., women only make 44 percent of what the average man earns. Heidi I. Hartmann, the president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, agrees that while women have made great strides in terms of employment, they are still discriminated against in terms of salary compared to men.

Postive Female Gender Role

According to therapist Dr. Beverly Block, if a girl was raised in a family where her father was abusive, the girl would typically grow up and marry a man who was also abusive. Women have learned over the past several decades that any kind of abuse should not be tolerated. That includes verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Women have learned to respect and love themselves and to terminate any relationships that are unhealthy for them.