Gender roles have played an integral role in humans successfully becoming the dominant species on the planet, populating the planet and in creating modern civilization. They have become less and less useful as society has evolved, now the vast majority of western society believe we have no use for them.
Feminism would have you believe that gender roles are an entirely learned behavior foisted upon us by our parents, media, and society in general. Feminists will say that they are a part of patriarchy and part of the subjugation of women.
This is a very convenient explanation as it absolves women of any responsibility in the creation of gender roles and of any responsibility to change them. This is patently absurd, for the vast majority of human history gender roles have been of great benefit to women, and they were complicit in creating and propagating them. There are however some grains of truth in their assertions.
There are two clear ways gender roles are enforced by society. In family court and through the paternity/maternity leave gap. The latter plays a larger part as women have already carried the baby for nine months are full of hormones and their natural instincts are telling them they want to be their child’s primary caregiver. When you add on top that women are entitled to up to a year off, and it’s no small wonder, they end up being their child’s primary caregiver in the majority of cases.
For the record, I strongly believe that families should be able to choose which parent gets to take paid maternity/paternity leave.
Media plays a role in both reinforcing gender roles as it tends to depict society as it is and in breaking them as there are many independent, powerful female characters in books, movies, video games and television and many strong role models in sports and media in general. I would say overall it’s a wash.
Now to the people we love to blame for our shortcomings, our parents. The majority of parents will encourage their daughters to do whatever makes them happy and tell them they can be whatever they want so no problems there. The only way I can see that parents enforce gender roles is that children like to imitate their parents and will tend to identify with the parent of their own gender.
When young girls see their mothers doing their makeup, cooking and taking care of children they mimic this behavior, they ask for easy bake ovens and dolls and makeup sets. Again I would say parents influence in enforcing gender roles is pretty close to a wash.
This leaves the final part of the puzzle that feminists like to ignore, the part I have already touched on in this article and the driving factor behind gender roles, biological imperatives. Men are driven to attain resources and power as that is what makes them attractive to women and will give them the widest choice of mating options.
If a man wants a good chance of passing on his genes, he must at the very least, be capable of supporting a family. As has always been the case it is what women want or need that drives men to fulfill the roles they do in society. Men don’t care what women do for a living, they don’t care how much money their potential mating partner makes, they simply want a woman who is nice to them, and that displays outward signs of good health (good complexion, healthy weight and other signs of genetic health and strong genes).
Women have all the choices available to them as nothing is expected of them, and when all those choices are available, they tend to follow their biological instincts. They choose a healthy work/leisure balance, choose careers that are fulfilling rather than lucrative, take more holidays, work part time and choose to be the primary caregivers for their family more often than men. The IQ distribution of the sexes is also a factor in career choice as men occupy the majority of the highest IQ bracket they will be more successful in the hard sciences, mathematics and other careers that require extraordinary brainpower.
It is clear to me that biology is the major driving factor behind gender roles, so now to the key question, do we need them?
Until women decide to become risk takers, get their hands dirty and do physically demanding jobs such as construction, waste management or car mechanic then yes we most certainly do. The way forward is plainly obvious to me; we educate both genders about their biological drives and instincts so if they so choose they can override them.
The earlier in their development they are taught about these drives and instincts the better as children and young adults’ drives and instincts are still developing, and the sooner they learn about them, the sooner they can recognize them. Trying to force society to abandon gender roles, making people go against drives and instincts that for the most part, they don’t fully understand, a sure-fire way to create a confused, unhappy and less productive society and is most certainly not the wisest course of action.