Gender issues in terms of family care have experienced a severe transformation with the outbreak of the feminist movement in the middle of the past century. The modern movement introduced a change in people’s perceptions about family roles as well as self-perception.
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Women started to recognize themselves as not only performing the service roles for children and husbands, but as independent breadwinners and professional works, and men have expanded their outreach beyond the measures of a professional career. As Athenstaedt, Heinzle, and Lerchbaumer (266) stated, gender-traits and self-categorization have become more mixed and blurred between genders.
Clifton, Mcgrath, and Wick (135) supported this finding, stating that there are many more subcategories for the definition of women’s nature appearing in response to their richer social roles and life. Thus, it is possible to suppose that the past century has served a breaking point in the reconceptualization of gender roles, with more freedom given to women, and more transcendence of home and family responsibilities between genders.
There has been much effort dedicated to the struggle for the rights of women; they used to be very much stereotyped, and their social role was rarely seen beyond a house and a family. The essay of Judy Brady proves the point, showing the sarcasm and bitterness about the conventions women got used to and, which is even worse, in which men got used to seeing their women.
There are much irony and repetition in Brady’s essay – the author tries to resemble the style of a small child speaking about his wife and a family to compare his cognition and considerations with the low level of a child’s development. The metaphor Bray may be trying to employ with the usage of this style is to show how primitive and unreasonable the men’s assumptions about women are.
To understand the point, one can consider a couple of citations from the essay. Justifying the point of giving a wife, Brady states that the ideal woman for her is “a wife who will work and send me to school” (Brady 275), “a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to the children…who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school” (Brady 276).
The present fragments show how arrogant and selfish the imposed duties and characteristics of women look from a detached viewpoint. The author shows how hard it may be to be a woman, to cater for the needs of the whole family, to ignore one’s own needs for the sake of others, and to sacrifice a job, free time, and self-realization for one’s husband.
The essay of Judy Brady was published in the 1970s; Glenn Sacks is a writer who touched upon the same point in gender issues thirty years after the call for equality in home and family matters made by her. Glenn Sacks is a male writer, which distinguishes him from the majority of writers on gender issues – there is rarely a man found who protects the standpoint of women and speaks sympathetically about the social change as it manifests itself for men.
Sacks published an essay “Stay-at-Home Dads” in 2002, reflecting on the ability of a man to become a caregiver to children staying at home and letting his wife become the primary breadwinner. Sacks (277) noted in his essay that men commonly refuse from being primary caregivers and make women sacrifice their career in case the family couple decides to have a child.
However, Sacks does not approve of this choice, since he is a living example of a father who decided to take the majority of household and child-rearing responsibilities for the sake of his wife’s professional development. His feedback about being a stay-at-home father is very positive, but Sacks still emphasizes a set of challenges that society imposes on such choices and stereotyping as well as disapproval that community members have towards stay-at-home fathers.
The main idea of Sacks’ essay is to show that despite the fundamental transformations in the family roles, society is still living with old-fashioned beliefs and stereotypes.
Despite the strength of the feminist movement and the granted equality for women, they are urged to refuse from their professional aspirations for the sake of their families, while men, even making the conscious choice for staying at home and taking care of the family issues, remain even more isolated than women since they have no mates in this ‘profession’.
Women are perceived as inferior to men at the workplace even in the third millennium, and the reason for this is not in the legislation, but in people’s heads – even the writer confesses to thinking disapprovingly about a man who sits at home with children, even despite the fact that he performs similar functions at his home.
The present two essays have some similarities since they both refer to the family roles as perceived within one family, and their social roles perceived at a broader scale. Both Brady and Sacks indicate that much inequality exists between men and women even despite the overall movement for equality, and stereotypes about women associated with housewives, and men as breadwinners, are still active in the modern society.
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However, the essays have several distinctions; first of all, they are written by the representatives of opposite genders, and the time difference between their publications is about 30 years. Brady focused more on the inner feelings of women being discriminated, and men manipulating and dominating women, using them, and distinguishing them in all aspects of family and social life.
Sacks, in contrast, concentrated on the hard process of change and transformation of social roles, and the challenges that both men and women face on that way.
Sacks indicated the tough position of men staying at home, which did not diminish the women’s life complexities, and imposed even additional responsibilities on them as breadwinners not free and flexible in making career choices. Hence, the article of Sacks is more realistic in terms of adequate, objective assessment of both domains for both genders, and more informative in terms of potential obstacles both men and women face in the effort of change.
The present paper shows that gender issues have become popular in the past century, but they are topical nowadays as well. Women suffer from inequality, and men taking female responsibilities are misunderstood. The progress in gender roles is evident, but still, there is a long way to cover to establish full-scale equality for genders.
Athenstaedt, Ursula, Heinzle, Cornelia, and Gudrun Lerchbaumer. “Gender subgroup self-categorization and gender role self-concept.” Sex Roles (2008) 58: 266-278.
Brady, Judy. “Why I want a wife.” The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Ed. Kirszner, G. Laurie, and Stephen R. Mandell. New York: Prentice Hall (Pearson), 2011. 275-277.
Clifton, A. Kay, Mcgrath, Diane, and Bonnie Wick. “Stereotypes of woman: A single category?” Sex Roles (1976) 2.2: 135-148.
Sacks, Glenn. “Stay-at-Home Dads.” The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Ed. Kirszner, G. Laurie, and Stephen R. Mandell. New York: Prentice Hall (Pearson), 2011. 277-280.