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Gender Roles of Men and Women

Transition in the society has been a universal factor in the human history. Changes in a particular field have an impact in other realms of the society as well. Each society had rigid roles for men and women. Men were the bread earner and women child bearer and caretaker of the family. The flexibility in gender roles that we are witnessing today has its roots in the changing social structure. Economic factors have contributed to a preference for a nuclear family doing away with the large structures of joint families. The ambit of economic and household responsibilities has changed. In the joint families there was a clear demarcation of responsibilities with the women looking after the domestic matters and the men taking charge of financial matters. In today’s time no such demarcation is needed. The flexibility in gender roles has been mainly due to economic compulsion. The increasing cost of living has led to the need for an extra earning member to supplement the financial resources brought in by the man of the family. The woman was thus required to earn as well so that the domestic demands could be met. She performed both the supplementary role of an earning member and her natural role of a housewife. Gradually with changing time men are beginning to don the role of women when compulsion to do so arose. The changes in the economic patterns vis –a –vis responsibilities and duties of men and women have been hardly smooth rather they are accompanied by strife and contention. While the acceptance of men’s gender role has been taken up the women the same does not always hold true for men. While the woman is groomed to become an efficient career woman as well as an efficient house maker men are expected to excel mainly in professional fields. Men do not have to struggle hard to prove their worth, women most of time have to work harder to prove not just that they are efficient but that they can render more than men in a similar position. The traditional notions about gender roles are undergoing transformation due to education also. An open and educated society is paving the way for role swapping which seems to be gaining grounds in the highly demanding developmental social structure. The demanding career of one parent forces the single parent to perform the gender roles for the child. In the urban society men are beginning to shed their inhibitions about working in the kitchen, women are found working late hours. Yet another proof of the emergence of flexibility in gender roles is that of the changing face of advertising. The products that were once advertised with women as the potential buyers are now being targeted differently and both men and women are considered the decision makers. The flexibility in gender roles needs to be taken to the extent where finally the concept of respective gender roles is done away with.