You’ve probably heard about that English test, when a phrase “Woman without her man is nothing” was punctuated different. Men wrote “Woman, without her man, is nothing.” And the women’s version was “Woman: Without her, man is nothing.” Well, this example shows not only the power of punctuation but the perception of women’s role in society. Is a woman still a ‘weak’ gender? Or is she a driving force for a ‘strong’ gender?
While men roles remained more or less stable through generations (being a father, a defender, a hunter and getter) the women’s roles have obviously transformed, and new ones were added so that women did not get bored while men are ‘ruling’ the world’.
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion.” ― Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden
This may sound weird but the first and foremost role for a woman is being a woman. But the question is – what are the features of the real woman today? The concept of being feminine has changed through the centuries. Now, being a woman doesn’t mean wearing skirts, playing piano and doing house chores. It also doesn’t mean being shy, modest, submissive, praising your man in front of others and keeping your mouth shut in the company of men. However, getting a masculine look, and losing the distinctive features of women is not the option. Being a woman still means having a sense of style, developing a certain degree of grace, having a feminine walk (because unlike men women can use their hips), and shaving legs. Concerning behavior – it’s not the matter of sex, it’s the matter of manners. Because acting ‘like a lady’ means nothing else than acting like a polite well-bred person today. Anyway, what women should keep in mind is that gender equality doesn’t mean erasing any sex differences between men and women. It’s okay to be a woman and to be proud of it.
Society and religion and the whole world keeps telling – a woman is a mother. It is her primary role and she should stick to it. However, modern role of a woman as mother has been modified as well. It is no more considered that a woman should sacrifice her life for the sake of being a mommy. Though women possess motherhood instinct and the bigger part of parenting process (let’s face it) is put on their shoulders, women don’t deny their general roles of human beings. Self development, career, hobbies and dreams are inevitable parts of life that should not be forgotten once you get pregnant. So the ‘natural’ role of mother learns to coexist with other essential roles, which can’t be neglected. After all a mother has always being an example to follow, a motivation force for any child, so to fulfill this task a woman should be more than just a good mother.
“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” Virginia Woolf
In marriage a woman has always been perceived as a motivator, an inspiration, a support for a man in reaching his goals. Now that a woman has her own goals the concept of wife has changed as well. A woman wants to be seen as an equal partner, a comrade that supports but wants to be supported. Thus, the decisions should be made not by a man himself, but in the process of discussion, sharing advice and reaching a compromise. Woman doesn’t want to be a reflection of man’s success only. A woman want to reach success along with her man. Her role of a muse inspiring men for various achievements, big victories, discoveries remains the same. But now it is not passive. Now a woman inspires a man with her own success, her own achievements and a certain degree of competition.
‘There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody.’ ~Florynce Kennedy
The employment question has been a sharp one speaking about gender roles. Women discriminated on job interviews. Cases of sexism in boss-employee relations. Choose men for management positions just because women can get a maternity leave. Though we live in the 21st century all of these still occur. However, women keep conquering the job market and taking the professions not considered ‘female’ ones. Of course when it comes to physical training man can be more hardy. However, in the technological era, when most of the processes are automated nothing keeps women from getting jobs and moving up the career ladder. There are numerous cases of women succeeding in leading positions, in different fields (from politics to science). A good point here is that while men work hard to achieve success at work, a woman has to balance the role of a good employee with the role of mother, wife and woman (mentioned above). And fair it is or not, but the truth was said by Clare Boothe Luce Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”
‘You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.’ ~Jane Galvin Lewis
Of course, every woman should be a bit of a feminist. Meaning not reducing the role of men or rejecting their input in society. Women today have the rights we strive for – we can vote, get jobs, and be reckoned. Feminism today lays in the fact of respecting a modern woman with her roles in society, keeping these roles with dignity and doing our best to fulfill it. Not because we HAVE to, but because we CAN!