For many years, there have been distinct gender roles in American society. They go back hundreds of years. These are informal guidelines for what men should do and be, just as women have similar rules.
In 2021, many of those rules have changed. Some traditionalists still insist that men and women need to behave in certain ways, but we’re gradually getting away from all that, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s always better when everyone is free to be themselves, rather than trying to adhere to strict, often illogical conventions.
Let’s examine five of the things that society once said that men needed to do.
Society once said that men needed to be rowdy or even reckless. There’s that axiom “boys will be boys.” It’s supposed to forgive all the rough-and-tumble behavior in which male children supposedly engage.
When they grow to manhood, men are still supposed to act that way. A man might prove his maleness by buying a motorcycle and riding it to and from work every day.
Doing that sort of thing can have consequences. Motorcycle accidents occur all the time, sometimes resulting in road rash, head injuries, or even amputations.
A motorcycle accident victim with a prosthetic usually needs to replace it every three to five years. That gets expensive, and it seems like a heavy price to pay to prove your manhood.
Luckily, society now accepts men much more who don’t want to engage in reckless behavior. It’s perfectly fine for a man to enjoy sitting at home and reading a book rather than doing something death-defying.
Hunt and Fish
Society also once said that men should enjoy outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. Many fathers considered it a rite of passage to give their son a rifle and teach them to hunt, even when the son hadn’t yet become a teenager.
Some of that still goes on, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but plenty of fathers abstain. They might think hunting for sport is cruel.
Fishing is the same way. If you’re going to cook the fish and eat it, that’s one thing, but if you’re going to catch and then release it, that seemly unnecessary. No fish enjoys gasping helplessly while it’s out of the water, nor having someone yanking a barbed hook out of its mouth.
Be the Breadwinner
Society said for a long time that men should work, while women should raise the children, cook, and clean the house. Some couples still use that system, and it’s fine, provided that both individuals feel happy and fulfilled that way.
Now, society feels okay about men staying home and raising the kids while the woman goes out and makes most or all of the money. Men are perfectly capable of helping to raise children, and they can vacuum, sweep, cook, and all of the other things women traditionally did.
There are many two-income households. Both parents bring in money, and both help raise the kids. There are no clear-cut gender roles, and everyone is happier and more fulfilled because of it.
Society said for many years that men should be stoic. They should never show any emotion, not when their child was born, not when someone died, and not when their favorite baseball team won the World Series. They should grunt, scratch themselves, and perhaps have a stiff belt of scotch.
It was hard for many men to adhere to this behavior. Men are human, and they have emotions. It has consequences when you smother what you feel.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that men who had to stifle their feelings often dealt with depression. They had no healthy outlet if they were feeling something. Common thought dictated that they should swallow it and never discuss it with anyone, not even a spouse or partner.
Know Everything About Tools and All Mechanical Things
Society felt that men should always know everything about tools. They should know how to fix a leaky faucet, change their car’s oil, and change a flat tire. They should know how to repair a malfunctioning lawnmower or a doorbell.
It’s great to know all those things, but many men these days will freely admit that they never learned how. In 2021, their wife might be just as likely to do it, or they might hire someone.
Generally speaking, gender roles are dying out. There’s little doubt that society will be better for it in the long run.
Featured Image by Carlos Alvarenga from Pixabay