Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gender Roles

     "Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet" said Camille Pagila, an American author and active feminist. This statement rings true for many who try to reach outside the bounds of normal acceptance, especially pertaining to gender conformity. As a whole, the American society expects both males and females to conform to certain roles in life based solely on gender. Less than a hundred years ago, it was unexceptable for girls to wear regular every day pants, and it was less than fifty years ago that an equal rights amendment between the two sexes was turned down. It is true in many aspects that men and women, no matter how capable and talented think and act differently from each other. Although we are all similar in our needs and the want to feel included, we communicate these wants in different ways: men tend to be more competitive, women are more articulate in detail oriented tasks, and men tend to be more interested in giving advice than in giving empathy.

     "... men's talk is more instrumental, competitive, and focused on "the bottom line." (Johnsetal 75) Boys are more engaged when they play games with set rules and less talk, this associates why men generally seem to be more interested in playing both sports and video games than their female counterparts. Women would much rather be able to communicate with each other in many different activities with their friends and why they would rather chat than becoming completely engaged in one task for hours on end. Men enjoy competitive environments where they can test their skills and prove themselves to their peers, whereas women would rather not belittle anyone who may not be as skilled as them at a task. As a general rule, girls tend to tease and make fun of fellow girls for their shortcomings in competitive areas rather than trying to physically show each other up.

     The difference between boy and girl competitiveness has been evident to me personally from an early age. It was much more common in Elementary to see boys challenging each other to races and getting holes and grass stains on their pants from competitive sports than girls. Girls can be fantastic competitors and have proven themselves to be highly capable of great physical feats, however, when they compete they generally do it to satisfy their own wants and goals. I go to the gym a few times a week, and I know from experience that men will lift more weight if they know somebody else is watching them, especially if that someone else is a female. They feel the urge to prove that they are capable. Women are a lot less likely to flex and show off their weight lifting abilities when men are watching them, because they don't want to appear manly. Men tend to be more blatant in showing off and competing, while women are more conservative and intrinsically motivated when it comes to competition.

     Women tend to be more detail oriented than men in many aspects. When it comes to planning. They tend to like laid out written plans, which in turn work as a sort of calendar or schedule. Men generally leave their time more open and are less likely to be offended if someone invites them to an activity at the last minute. Women enjoy it when their houses are decorated and color coordinated, while men, though appreciative of nice homes, tend to be more likely to care about having home improvements such as a big screen t.v. and a nice car rather than having pictures, paintings, and flower arrangements.

     My family is generally busy, and we get a lot of phone calls. I've become quite talented in telling whether it is a male of female on the other line based solely on the length of the conversations. Women like to make sure that everything is in balance emotionally and well sorted out. Men quickly convey what needs to be said, and its surprising how few details they try to remember about their other male friends. My friend Jim was teasing me about how he's a month and a half older than me. After three years and after determining that we had become 'best friends,' he had forgotten that my birthday was in fact only two weeks after his. I asked him in  good humor what the date of my birthday was, and was not surprised surprised to learn that he had forgotten even after being invited to my past three birthday celebrations. When it comes to details such as remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and little details like favorite colors, women are much more sensitive in trying to remember every detail. Guys on the other hand have a tendency to remember major details and points that they see as most significant in their relationships.

     Oftentimes men seem a lot less surprised after hearing gossip, they easily accept information and strive to find out why there is a problem and fix it. Girls are stereotyped as dramatic, because many times rather than trying to fix a problem, they will tell others what they have heard to increase bonding. Unfortunately that usually spreads the problem to more people rather than solving it. Girls would rather talk through things until they feel comforted about it, unlike guys who don't feel a sense of closure to problems through talking alone, they like to make sure that everyone involved is okay and see a final resolution to any conflict.

     An example of this is when I talk to my dad about relationship problems and ask his opinion about it. He has a tendency to tell me to move on or apologize to a guy that I've been having issues with. He never empathizes with how horrible I may feel in any given situation, and he never compares my situation to relationship problems that he might have had in high school. He sees the big picture and suggests ways that could resolve or end the conflict. My mom on the other hand offers me lots of advice, relates to me, tells me to go with what I feel is best, and tries to prevent my feelings from becoming more hurt than they already are. My dad is successful in helping me solve problems, while my mom is successful in making me feel better about how I handled problems.