| By Naheed Israr |
“Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”
― Matthew Henry, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament
Women are expected to be emotional while men “should manage and suppress their emotions”. These can lead to many problems. These expectations force people to change who they are and shame them if they do not. Trying to change or not accepting one’s personality can lead to internal conflict and unhappiness with the situation that the person is in. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem can be caused by the oppression of emotions or putting oneself in situations that one is not comfortable in. The belief that all men are aggressive leads to acceptance and normality in relationship abuse.
Gender roles are a major factor in the roles that men and women have in a family setting. Most families are set up where the father works and is the head of the house and the mother stays at home to take care of the house and children. This can be linked to the idea that women are more nurturing and gentle. Society places pressure on women to have and raise children, even when most are happy without them
Since the dawn of civilization, society forged a happy life of family togetherness in which everyone had a specified role. Women were considered domestic caregivers, with sole responsibility for the home and child-rearing, while men ‘brought home the bread.’
Gender construct in all societies brings about a certain stereotype about women where they are supposed to perform their jobs according to roles specified by man-made society.
As soon as a baby’s gender is identified we start developing a certain picture of life around them, filling up their room and closet with frilly clothes (in case of a girl) building up a setup of potential homemakers to manipulate their thoughts. We are teaching her that girls are supposed to wear dresses, serve food, and take care of babies; the biggest and most common stereotype put on women.
In the past, women were supposed to fulfill certain roles, such as a caring mother, a diligent homemaker, and an obedient wife. The perfect mother was supposed to stay home and nurture so society would accept them. A diligent housewife had dinner on the table precisely at the moment her husband arrived from work. A wife was a “good” wife only if she carried out her man’s every order and agreed with him on everything. Even if she wanted to voice an opinion, his education, or rather lack of thereof would not allow it. Always dependent on her husband or any male figure in her life to fulfill her needs and bail her out from any distressful situation. Women seeking otherwise were considered a shame to womanhood.
Her intellect, energy, talent and thrive to achieve something on her own had been disregarded and shunned behind the walls of the household.
However, most studies indicate that while women triumphed in other areas in today’s world, they still feel it necessary to adhere to the domestic ideal as much as possible to maintain their identity as a “good woman, mother, and wife.” So while women in effect achieved great leaps of liberation during past decades they are still bound by the oppression of the domestic ideal.
The societal expectations of today’s women are more demanding than in the past, making their lives stressful due to keeping the balance between work, family, and motherhood, while no such expectations are attached to their male counterparts.
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