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Do Gender Roles Exist?

The Evolution of the Gender Role Definition
Gender Equality
The Effects of Family Structure on Gender Roles
Gender Identify


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Yolanda Brown
Mrs. McKinley
English 111
May 8, 2016

Gender Roles
There is so much controversy today surrounding gender equality, especially with the new
House Bill 2 (HB2) law that has gone in effect in the state of North Carolina. House Bill 2, the
Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, puts in place a statewide policy that bans individuals
from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex (Tal Kopan and
Eugene Scott). This means if you were born a woman but identify yourself as a man now you
must still use the womens bathroom and vice versa for a person who was born male but now
lives their life as a woman. Having such freedom to express gender in any way one chooses gives
off a suggestion that gender roles may not exist in todays society.
Gender roles do still exist but under different terms and conditions. According to the
Oxford dictionary a gender role is defined as The role or behavior learned by a person as
appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms (Oxford Dictionaries).
Further assessing the definition, the term has evolved over time to adapt to the opinions and
expressions of todays society. In comparison to Darwins Theory of Evolution, where organisms
evolve and adapt to their surroundings in order to survive, the gender role definition takes on
some of the same techniques.

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We are living in an Era of equality, where everybody has the right to vote and express
their freedom of speech. This puts a stipulation on the gender role definition evolution because
before the 18th century women had no say in the voting process. They had no freedom of speech
and what their husband said was the final verdict. It was in 1920 when women were granted the
right to vote. When we fast-forward to 2016 we see the equality amongst men and women and
the stereotypical views of the past no longer exist.
One way the definition has evolved is through family structure. In the past family
structure was pretty plain and simple. It consisted of a father, mother, and children. The proper
terminology for this type of family was called a nuclear family. The father was the head of the
household. He made all the decisions and was the sole provider. The mothers job was to
maintain the house, do all the cooking and cleaning, and to oversee the children. In todays
society there are a variety of different family structures such as is the single parent family where
one parent is absent from the home; leaving the other parent to raise the children on their own.
Two or more adults who are related and living in the same home is referred to as an extended
family. There is also a childless family structure where couples reside together but have no
children. Individuals who choose to remarry gain a stepfamily, which also makes for a blended
family. And then there are grandparent families where grandparents are raising their
grandchildren for various reasons. According to the American Psychological Association, Over
the past 20 years single-parent families have become even more common than the so-called
"nuclear family" consisting of a mother, father and children. Today we see all sorts of single
parent families: headed by mothers, headed by fathers, headed by a grandparent raising their
grandchildren (Kopan, www.apa.org). All of this information shows how the definition is
affected. Raising another question, what is the norm?

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How a person identifies themselves is another factor that changes the definition. This is
because there are many variations to gender identity. Transgender or transsexual people, for
example. Transsexuality is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression
is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being
transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (Human Rights Campaign). A
persons sex (male or female) does not define how they feel about who they truly are and
because of this their role in society differs from the norm. There are people who identify
themselves as having two or more genders and there are also people who consider themselves as
a-gender meaning they are without a gender. Because everyone lives their own life we can only
judge what we see, many times it is an assumption and not actual facts. That is what makes
knowing ones gender role such a broad and diverse subject. Therefore, the definition changes as
the cultural norms that are accepted in society change.
In conclusion, todays society is more accepting. A man having a wife and children were
the cultural norms of the 18th century. As time progressed people became more open and
accepting to things that were forbidden and frowned upon such as gay marriage and sex changes.
Because of this evolution the cultural norms have changed and are viewed in a different
perspective; because of this I believe that gender roles still do exist.

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Works Cited

Kopan, Tal and Scott, Eugene. North Carolina Governor Signs Controversial Bill. CNN.
Turner Broadcasting System Inc., 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, 20016. Web. 01 April 2016.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions. Human Rights Campaign. 2016. Web. 27
Apr. 2016.

Single Parenting and Todays Society. American Psychological Association. 2016. Web. 27
Apr. 2016.

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