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The thinking of many people often describes gender roles as an inherent part of any society. In fact, some nations and populations may believe that their existing societal structure is the correct and most logical one. However, anthropologists, sociologists, and other scientists strive to prove the opposite, arguing that gender roles are as accurate for one group of people as they are false for another one. Thus, some underlying factors must form one’s personality and activities to adhere to the supposed social norm. In her work, Mead counters the idea that gender roles are ubiquitous and vital for human existence and discusses a concept of taught differences (Jacobus 237). Her process of thinking outlines the lack of necessity for gender stereotypes and proposes a new structure that would emphasize one’s individuality and achievement. Although some loss of societal values may be possible if all gender stereotypes are erased, the result of this change would bring many desirable outcomes to all people regardless of their gender.
The Erasure of Gender Stereotypes
A number of scholars have proven that various societies have their differences in gender stereotypes. Mead, for instance, shows many striking variations in behaviors and activities that are presumed to be exclusively feminine or masculine. In fact, some of these beliefs can be considered complete opposites of those, which one can summarize under the concept of Western societal values. Moreover, the desire to link one’s personality and its inherent characteristics with one’s gender is also present in the Western society, although many other nations do not perceive the same distinctions (Jacobus 241). Many different roles and limitations currently surround the concept of gender with all its descriptors. Therefore, the loss of these stereotypes is bound to bring significant change and erase a number of the established institutions. Furthermore, the loss of some societal values is also unavoidable as many people may tune their behavior to be in line with the supposed standard.
The Effects of Erasure
The potential change from the elimination of the differences in gender may affect every perceived part of one’s life. For example, the structure of a society built on a clear distinction between dominance and submissiveness of men and women respectively will lose the most of its rhetoric. One may think that people’s lives can alter substantially in this particular situation. However, the existing research proves that this change can have more effect on people’s beliefs rather than their actual behavior. According to Baez et al., individuals are more likely to assume their learned gender roles than actually portray the taught characteristics in their actions (e0179336). Therefore, it is possible to consider that the erasure of gender stereotypes can affect the societal pressure on people rather than the nature of separate persons. By eliminating the created differences between men and women, people will not be erasing a part of their personality but a necessity to be limited by some presumed beliefs. The shift should affect the society as a whole and alter the attitudes persons have towards each other.
The institution of the family may change significantly in a situation where all gender stereotypes do not exist. As Mead points out, women are often presumed to be better at raising children, while men are more likely to be restricted to the role of a worker (Jacobus 243). After erasing these limitations, the places of women in men in families may change for some people, while staying the same for the others. After all, not all individuals defy this stereotype as there are women that find happiness in raising children and men that are successful in their occupation. The importance of this change is that it can free most persons from the need to conform and allow them to explore their abilities. In a society devoid of such norms, families may become more diverse than before. The community of people will not pressure men and women to create families based on strict roles and people with different ambitions and personalities may be able to establish relationships that are bound to their personal choices.
Following the change in family structure, the education of children can also become more diverse. It is safe to assume that people most often teach the following generations according to the gathered experience. Thus, the shift in familial systems can bring further alterations to the next generations. According to Retelsdorf et al., children are often exposed to a stereotype linked to their academic performance, which states that “girls outperform boys” in the field of learning (189). Thus, the performance of young men and their satisfaction with the learning process can be undermined by the existing perceptions. In a case of stereotypes being eliminated, one’s performance may not be restricted by one’s gender. Thus, it is possible that some individuals with talents, which do not fit the current norm, will not be neglected and may be encouraged to follow their passion. The inexistent limitations may benefit both young men and women and positively affect their future.
One’s everyday life may be affected as well. It is important to remember that one’s gender is not the only existing feature that allows the society to outline standard roles and behaviors. Therefore, although the erasure of gender stereotypes can bring much change to people’s lives, some assumptions and beliefs will continue to exist. Age, for instance, may remain as a distinct characteristic of some societal structures (Jacobus 240). Such factors as one’s occupation, status, and appearance may also contribute to the creation of stereotypes. Nevertheless, gender affects one’s everyday life, and the elimination of norms related to it can alter the way people make all types of decisions. Such a sphere as advertising which shapes people’s perceptions about products and encourages them to make purchases relies on gender as a marketing approach (Eisend et al. 257). In a case where this method is not available, the marketing business would have to choose a different tactic. Therefore, even one’s regular purchases may change.
Currently, the created structure of societal values places much significance on one’s gender. This role does not only outline gender as a defining characteristic of a person but also puts some limitations on one’s abilities and personality. If gender stereotypes are not existent in a society, it may treat its members in a completely different way. For instance, some created societal values may render to be baseless, which will eliminate them and bring new ideas and concepts to the people’s attention.
The structure of a family can become more diverse than before as individuals will not be pressured to fit a specific mold to find and maintain a relationship. Such spheres as education and advertisement may influence one’s everyday life and affect their professions, hobbies, and interests. Cultural changes should also be considered as many traditions are linked to gender. The society that does not treat men and women differently may focus on other characteristics and highlight people’s achievements and personal differences. It is essential to note that gender stereotypes are not the only standards that people create for themselves and the population as a whole. However, the scope of influences for this particular type implies that its elimination can change the way people see other individuals and themselves.
Baez, Sandra, et al. “Men, Women… Who Cares? A Population-Based Study on Sex Differences and Gender Roles in Empathy and Moral Cognition.” PloS One, vol. 12, no. 6, 2017, pp. e0179336.
Eisend, Martin, et al. “Gender Roles and Humor in Advertising: The Occurrence of Stereotyping in Humorous and Nonhumorous Advertising and its Consequences for Advertising Effectiveness.” Journal of Advertising, vol. 43, no. 3, 2014, pp. 256-273.
Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. 10th ed., St. Martin’s Press, 2016.
Retelsdorf, Jan, et al. ““Michael Can’t Read!” Teachers’ Gender Stereotypes and Boys’ Reading Self-Concept.” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 107, no. 1, 2015, pp. 186-220.