The Limits of Gender Roles and Gender Stereotypes

I’ve been watching a ton of those Buzzfeed videos about men doing things women do and women doing things men do. They are highly entertaining, eye opening, and based on stereotypical experiences each gender has. Gender roles have never sat well with me. To me, gender roles gave way to and support stereotypes surrounding gender. Men are supposed to be masculine and strong while women are supposed to be dainty and delicate. I think it’s safe to say that I am not a fan of traditional gender roles at all nor society’s view of what men and women should be.

Note: I’m not addressing other genders because in American society, there are really only gender roles for men and women.

I’m currently living with my dad and step-mom in Virginia and I must say that they could be a poster couple for traditional gender roles. Also my dad tries to put them on me, but I’ll get more to that later. Anytime we go out, my dad always opens the car door for my stepmom. She leans on his shoulder. Pretty much they play up man and wife. At home, it’s very much my stepmom, predominantly, cooks and cleans inside the house while the men are supposed to take care of outside the house. I know many may wonder why I have such a big problem with this. Let me explain.

I am a queer-identified male who has NEVER identified with the stereotypes associated with being male. I know nothing about cars. I couldn’t care less about sports. Crazy explosions and action sequences don’t make a movie good for me. I’m not opposed to crying and violence ain’t the way that I roll. I sing. Gender roles for men play upon these stereotypes. I have spent so much of my life not fitting in with gender roles that they annoy me. If something is wrong with the house, my dad is quick to fix it. That is not me. My dad often tries to make me fit with them, but it will not happen. I remember it was my graduation day. My friend, Tia, was riding with my dad, stepmom and I to the restaurant for my graduation dinner. I went to my door to open it for myself and my dad tried to chastise me for not opening Tia’s door because she is a lady. Warning: My feminism is about to show up. This made me angry. Chivalry does not exist because it is based on the notion that women are inferior to men and need men to do things for them. I grew up in a household with my mother and older sister. Women can do just as much as men do. Women don’t need men to do anything. It would have been a different story if Tia would have asked me to open the door or I offered to be nice. The fact that I was “supposed” to do it angered me. As people, we don’t have to do anything that we don’t want to do. We have free will. Another instance is that my dad has me do yard work like mowing the lawn. Anyone who knows me knows that Ronnie does not do manual labor. I would much rather cook and clean indoors than do anything that has to deal  with outside work. Yet, this is what he expects of me. Nope nope nope. Not me. But these expectations are based of the gender roles assigned to men.

In addition to the buzz feed videos, I’m also watched a ton of youtube videos by same-sex married couples Vinny and Luke of V-Squared and Billy and Pat of BillyandPatVlog. I have to admit that they are absolutely adorable couples and I hope to one day have a relationship like theirs. However, these gender roles that my dad and stepmom have gladly accepted won’t work for them. Why you might ask. Because gender roles are based on relationships between a man and a woman. In same-sex couples, there are two men or two women AND you can’t place heterosexual parameters on homosexual relationships.

Age old question: Who is the man and the woman in the relationship? Honey, NO!!!

Being LGBTQ identified in American society is difficult, especially because of the preconceived notions of what a man and woman should be. Not everyone fits these stereotypes or gender roles. People who exhibit traits that are associated with the “opposite” gender get so much crap about it. The idea that nothing is worse that an effeminate man or a super butch woman is crazy to me. People are who they are. Stereotypes and gender roles only help to perpetuate misogyny and create more hurdles for gender equality and equity. 9 times out of 10, the love of my life will be male. Being in a same-sex relationship, we’ll base the roles we take on our strengths and weaknesses as opposed to what society says that we should be doing.

Gender roles are so limiting. I believe that everyone should be well-rounded individuals. I think back to college when the guys on my floor wouldn’t know how to do laundry because the women in their lives would do it for them. How can you be truly independent if you always have to rely on others to do things for them. I feel like every man should know how to cook, clean, and iron. In addition, I feel like women should know how to do yard work, change a tire and fix a leaky faucet. Whether or not you like to do a certain thing or want to do something is up to you and your partner. I just think that everyone should know how because everyone goes their a period of time when they are by themselves. Knowing how to get by and survive in those times is essential. I, for one, would never want to ask my mother to wash my clothes at the age of 30 or to cook all of my meals. I should know how to do that for myself. I’m extremely thankful that I wasn’t raised in a household where I had to abide by strict gender roles. Were there things that I couldn’t because I was a boy? Yes. Did that bother me? At the time no, but looking back yes. Everyone should be able to express themselves as they are.

I know this pretty much turned into a big rant, but it’s clearly something I’m passionate about. It took me years to become comfortable with myself and to develop my personal identity. I refuse to have anyone dictate what I should do or who I should be. It’s my choice and it’s the choice of each individual. It’s their personal identity development that matters. However, we live in a world where everything is gendered. From the time a person’s biological sex is revealed, everything about them becomes gendered: blue for boys & pink for girls. We’re socialized to associate things with specific genders and it shouldn’t be that way. Why is pink for girls? In that vein, why are products gendered like shampoo and body wash? It doesn’t make sense.

Let me know what you all think. Leave a comment and feel free to share.

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2 thoughts on “The Limits of Gender Roles and Gender Stereotypes

  1. Great ideas Ronnie! There are several theories on gender identity and gender roles, but I wonder about those who identify as genderqueer/agender/ (gender non-conforming). Gender roles are inherently something that we are forced into as a part of perceptions of gender expression. A small girl-sexed child is put into the category of “female gendered” and then subscribed to perform as a female gendered person (given dolls, wear pink, etc.). What then would be the case for someone who is intersex and the doctor constructs their genitalia in order to put them into a category of sex and then we assume gender identity and gender expression follows suit. So it’s actually a very complicated subject of gender roles and I see your point that in a same sex couple, gender roles are confusing because we base much on what the body is sexed as and what gender is performed, we fail to see that heterosexuality is based upon no prior model– it’s an assumed norm that we cannot undo and thus we prefer to put same-sex couplings into that mold because it’s what makes sense. All of that to say that while it’s annoying to have to say there is no “man” or “woman” roles in the pairing, it is two men or two women– and based upon our bodies’ appearances an identity, expression and thus role is assumed as well. It’s an odd ladder of assumptions that for many, it comes from a place of simply to understand as opposed to putting someone “into” those categories.

    1. I agree with you, Zack. I, too, wonder about those who don’t fit on the gender “binary.” I know that many come from a place of trying to understand when they ask “who’s the man or woman.” However, I’m anxious for the day when that thought doesn’t even cross people’s minds. I long for the day when being in a same-sex couple is just a thing. We have a long way to go, but everyday it’s getting a little bit closer to that day.
      This post kinda turned into a rant because my emotions were high and I was annoyed about things being placed on me, but I do think that the ideas presented are valid and could make life a little bit easier.

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