A woman is expected to work at home, take care of the family, attend to their needs, the ideal emotional machine. A man is expected to be the pillar, never wavering, the bread-winner of the family, someone who stands behind them and observes, always in the shadows. Do you agree? Are these the expected roles you play or will play for your children? A few decades ago, or perhaps, a few centuries ago, yes. You would be expected to. Especially in a society like India. But what about now? Are gender roles the same as they used to be?
Changes in the 21st Century
The 21st century has brought changes along with it in various aspects of life. Open-mindedness and broad thinking are the norms. People have started becoming more accepting of things, pushing old ideas away to emerge into a much happier and fulfilling life. May it be women soaring in male-oriented fields or men being more emotionally open than they used to be, it is all changing. Long-standing stereotypes are hard to turn over but it is happening none the less. But as a society that has gone through changes more often than not, this is expected. Some might say, that culture is culture and traditions are traditions, they cannot change. But does India’s culture and tradition invoke discrimination and injustice? I certainly think not.
Humans come in all shapes and sizes, the next being weirder than the last, and allowing them to flourish is what must be concentrated on. Sure enough, the changing society is doing just that. People are exploring areas once left unexplored. Accepting new and difficult challenges proving themselves cleverer than ever. Showing behavioral modifications that were once shunned and say, feared.
The scenario of Past Civilizations
Now, if we look at these gender roles from years past of various civilizations, we see a slow but steady change, each century bringing something new to the mix. Let us take a ride back memory lane and visit ancient Greece and Egypt and see what their society was like.
Ancient Greece was, like other regions, focused on its men. They were considered to be of more importance and were regarded highly by all. They were in charge of the house and family and were seen to work in military, politics, and other areas. Even with their families, they enjoyed more leisure than the other members. Boys went to school and were forced to train for their future jobs at a rather young age.
On the other hand, women were not given many privileges and hence were thought to be not so important. Their primary job was to provide children to their husbands, take care of the household and slaves. Girls were usually seen helping their mothers in their fieldwork and learning to handle a house early on. Of course, duties were different depending on your ranking in society and where you were born. For example, women in Sparta were encouraged to train but the ones in Athens were trained to take care of a family.
Now, Greece is seeing women doing men jobs and men doing women jobs. The area that seems to be most affected is household work. Both genders have started sharing the burden of taking care of a family. Men have started taking their husband and father duties seriously.
Ancient Egypt was a bit different in their view of these gender roles. Men, as usual, were considered heads of society and inherently superior, physically, and mentally. Ancient artifacts like sculptures showed men as exaggeratingly bigger and taller than women. They were not only responsible for stereotypical ‘male work’ but also for artistic work. But women, though seen as secondary, enjoyed a much more independent life than women of the same era. Females have become Pharaohs, gaining support and respect. Most Egyptian women then were pleased with their roles in society.
India, on the other hand, has seen all kinds of dynasties and empires on its soil. It has also seen differentiation for the minutest of things. But India has also seen discrimination towards both the sexes. Though hard to believe, in some way’s men have been made a victim of gender discrimination as well. Women, need-less to say, have been suffering throughout the history of mankind.
A lot of the changes in these norms are seen in how women are perceived, which to-be-honest, was inevitable. Girls encouraged to pursue higher education and slots pre-booked for them in the parliament and government jobs are some of the ways the government has tried to eradicate gender discrimination. Masculinity is still celebrated in many places but it has come down a notch in certain areas. Many people’s opinions are backed by centuries of stereotypical bias and hence seeing the leaf slowly turn green is rather refreshing.
Women of the present era have become more independent and self- sufficient. They have the courage and steadfastness to go after their dreams and live the way they want to. And men are encouraged to show their emotions and open up. Showing your true feelings is not considered feminine (once translated to weakness) but as true strength. They are now comfortable with who they are. I believe the area that was the most affected by these changes was the household. Men and women are more comfortable sharing chores and kid duties. Men can be seen being househusbands, and women as CEOs, a complete 180 from what it was once.
The world is changing, people are opening their eyes and society is improving. Are you?