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Femininity versus Masculinity

By Monique Marshall

Society has certain standards of how men and women are suppose to act, dress, talk, etcetera. The expectations society has for men and women are called gender roles. They’re a set of rules that are a vintage way of thinking in this modern society. Many people break these rules of what's expected of their gender almost everyday without realizing it. Women are starting to obtain powerful positions in the workplace and men are starting to become more domestic. What really is the definition of feminine and masculine? What do they mean and what do they represent in our society?


Femininity is sometimes used as a code word for this mythical standard which suggest that women and girls are always gentle soft delicate and nurturing…” says Lynn Peril from her essay pink think. Women are often viewed as delicate, fragile creatures who must be taken care of and protected. Women and girls who step out of this stereotype of femininity are seen as ‘breaking gender roles’. An example of this would be “Hillary Clinton running for office” says Alex Wilson, a student here a Shaw High  School. Clinton ran in the presidential elections for 2016. Some people claimed she would be too emotional to handle the stress of being president of the United States; they implied that she too was weak and fragile. Some people went on to say that only a man could carry out this job because  men are strong and powerful. This idea of thinking is an example of traditional gender roles in our society.


Gender Norms not only apply to women but also men. Men are expected to be tough and rugged. Men showing “feminine” emotions, feelings, and characteristics such as gentleness, anxiousness, and kindness are looked down upon. Nowadays you see reversal gender roles almost everyday. 18 year old James Charles became the first male model for CoverGirl, an American based Makeup Company. But you don't have to be a male model or run for president to break the societal standards. In fact breaking societal norms has become such an everyday thing that some people do it without even realizing it. “I think breaking Gender roles should be a normality” says Katie Turner. But if breaking gender roles happens so often why do some people still feel uncomfortable by the reversal roles?


Even though the origins of traditional gender roles aren't necessarily pinpointed to one specific time or place it is very evident they've been around for a long time. Gender roles have been expressed  in ancient time periods through literature, movies, ect. The 1950s was a time where traditional gender roles were being expressed on television and in stores to ensure men and women were staying in their gender norms. Women were expected to be domestic, clean the house, take care the children, and cook dinner while men were expected to be the leader of the household, take care of the money, have a well paying  job, and take care of the family including, the wife. People from older generations remember society being a certain way but now with our modern society becoming more accepting, “partially due to social media”, said Alex Wilson, is starting to change the way people especially teenagers are expressing themselves. “Society rules us all”, said Katie Turner. These four words couldn't be more true. The more welcoming, and evolved society becomes the more people will start to destroy these ancient and broken down ideas.


Gender Norms are always going to be a part of culture. Whether these standards of thinking become stronger or water down over time. They will always be a part of our society. We can raise younger generations in the belief that feminine and manly are just words not labels. We ourselves can be examples by expressing ourselves in whichever fashion we please. Women can be strong powerful fierce and dominant while still being a woman. Men can be domestic submissive compassionate and gentle while still be a man. Our gender does not define us, we do.