Whether these so-called “gender roles” are small ideologies or huge differences in lifestyle, society has set a mark for women and men to live and act a certain way. Coming from a traditional indian family with a sister and a mother, I, personally, am affected and shown to many indian gender roles daily. No matter the absurdity or complete sexism on some of these roles, gender roles have been a part of my life since I was born. Born and raised in America along with my sister, we are accustomed to a completely different lifestyle than my parents (born and raised in the villages of India), and with dedicated perseverance, I can attest changing these ideologies is more than difficult. Social norms and gender roles keep our society in a sort of check. When people or even organizations try to change these norms, people get uneased, unhappy, and ultimately, uncomfortable with the situations. But will these completely absurd gender roles ever change? Do we even need to change them?
Gender roles, in my opinion, are the most prevalent in India than anywhere else in the world. Our narrow-minded or conservative view of the world has caused a complete classification of what men and women are allowed to do (and they are completely okay with it). I grew up in a household where these gender roles became norms. The girls cook, clean, and take care of the house. The boys work, make money, and perform any physical labor necessary in the house. No room for change, no reason to argue.
One day, my mom came home from a long day of work to cook dinner for the next hour and a half, while my dad (also came home from work) was watching television in the family room. I yelled at my dad for not helping my mom with dinner (albeit he would not be able to help much). My mom came over and yelled at me for yelling at my dad. I was shocked that she chose my father’s side over mine. I thought the fact that she cooked and my dad just relaxed was completely ignorant and unfair, but no one else seemed to think so. The gender roles overcame the unfairness of the situation. That is just how life was, and no one wanted change. The paternalistic, conservative views meant no room for change or liberal thinking in culture in my family. I was very angry that night, but it made sense in retrospect. My mother did not know any better.
This little anecdote of my family is very similar to the gender norms associated with sports. Whether it’s the controversy with Danica Patrick, Brittney Griner, Sam Gordon, or even Caster Semenya, women in sports has led the top stories of news for decades. Danica Patrick, one of the most successful women race-car drivers, has faced constant criticism for her decision to race with the “guys”. In Brittney Griner’s case, her controversy came when Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, alluded to the fact that he might draft Brittney Griner, the world’s top woman basketball player, to the NBA. People all over the world started to question his mind and argue that Griner could never play on the same level of these “guys”. Lastly, Sam Gordon, a nine-year old girl football “phenom“, was criticized for being better than all the “guys” on a pee-wee football team. Her success on the football field spread worldwide and she became a household name for girl football players in 2012.
Whether it is exceptional talent or just acting male-like (like Caster Semenya or Susie, a female officer for the US Army), people feel uncomfortable with having to deal with these situations. Semenya’s sex issue caused much controversy in the world’s track and field department as she flew past some of the best male and female runners of the world. Susie despite her trials and tribulations on and off the “battlefield,” she continued to fight the constant sexism involved with her patriotism. Currently, gender roles are present and thriving and NEED to be changed.
Overall, I feel that the current ideologies of society will only change with the constant fight from women like Caster and Susie. And for that, I commend Caster Semenya, Susie, Danica Patrick, Brittney Griner, and Sam Gordon who chose to fight for change and give strength to other women and hopefully, my mother to change the conservative views of the world.