Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Feminism - but is there some truth in the stereotype of gender roles?

(297 Posts)
loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:34:42

I understand that feminism has its place, 100%. The way women are treated in some parts of the world, (and I will agree), in the western world to an extent, is wrong. And feminism is needed to that effect.

What I can't get my head around is that on some level, generally speaking, I believe women are more suited to the stereotypical 'woman's jobs,' and likewise, men are suited to their jobs. I embrace the fact that I am the one staying at home and look after my kids while my husband works (and this is coming from someone who has a very successful career and earned pretty much the same as my husband). I love cooking his dinner and cleaning the house. I don't feel oppresed. I am also attracted to my husbnad because he embraces his stereotypical male role of the breadwinner. I feel proud of my role as a women and I am proud that it differs from my husband's general role.

I know that the point of feminism is that everyone should be free to do what they want, male or female, and that men, if they want, should have the right to stay home with the kids.

But does anyone agree that on some basic level, instinctive almost, that for the majority of people (again, not all), that women do have women desires that are typical of a women, and the same for men?

ie. women are generally better at cleaning and tidying and naturally take the reigns, men prefer heavy lifting and DIY, women will be more motherly with kids than men, etc. NB. I know this is not always the case, but I am speaking generally. I believe stereotypes in this instance, are based on natural differences between men and women that we will never get away from. (Again stressing that there are exceptions).

Lottapianos Thu 18-Jun-15 16:40:48

To answer your question - no no no no no no no and no again! I have fairly strong feelings on this subject grin

It is just simply not true to say that women are 'better' tidying, cleaning, cooking etc. and men are 'better' at heavy lifting etc. If more women are taking responsibility for the cleaning in their homes, its because they are judged waaaaaay more harshly for it than men are. Similarly, many men struggle with being seen as unmanly for not having an interest in 'man' stuff like DIY, gardening, and all that jazz. It's 100% socialisation.

Ditto with child rearing - I have worked with mothers who had zero empathy for their children, and fathers who were so in tune with their children and obviously delighted in them. How empathetic a parent you are depends on all sorts of stuff, not what sort of genitals you have.

And if these differences are 'innate', where does that leave women who have no 'maternal instinct' or men who dont' give a fig about being fit and strong and sporty and re-wiring plugs and all that? Leaving like they're not 'real' women or men, that's where.

AND..... ever noticed how the 'woman's role' things are stuff that has to be done every day or even several times a day (cooking, cleaning, taking care of children) whereas 'man's role' things need doing rarely (mowing the lawn, taking bins out, electricity, plumbing etc)? Coincidence??? no smile

Twinklestein Thu 18-Jun-15 16:45:45

Yeh I naturally take the 'reigns' across the business in own (and set up). The reign of moi.

I hate cleaning and tidying and am lousy at it so we have a cleaner.

SusanIvanova Thu 18-Jun-15 16:47:18

I nearly choked laughing at this post.

Thanks OP I needed this.

CultureSucksDownWords Thu 18-Jun-15 16:48:57

No. Definitely nothing innate about it.

Roles/tasks perceived as being typically female are worthwhile and useful. They are not innately better suited to women over men. Women and girls are very often socialised into these roles and duties, and men and boys are socialised into stereotypically male roles/tasks. It happens from birth in the way that male/female babies are treated differently - sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle ways. The effect of this socialisation is to make it more likely that each gender will choose roles/employment/tasks that are stereotypically assigned to their gender, rather than go against the social norms for their gender.

loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:49:11

Thanks for your reply!

I completely see where you are coming from, however, I can't help but think that a tendency to 'want' to do these things is on some level natural. I can't think of anything worse than having to do DIY or move furniture around etc. dont get me wrong, I would HATE it if I wasn't 'allowed' to do these things, but I feel that in terms of the lifting, for instance, men are physically built to do these things with more ease than women (not ALL women, granted).

I enjoy doing the things that have to be done everyday, and the majority of my friends feel the same way (with a few exceptions). My H also says he likes feeling like he is 'looking after us' as a family and therefore bringing inthe money etc and advacning in his career suits him the same.

I know that's not the case for a lot of relationships, but from my circle of friends it seems to be the situation and both parties are happy with it and seem proud to have those defined roles... I just wondered what others thought.

The freedom aspect to me is being allowed to swap the roles without discrmination... but I'm quite happy with it as long as the freedom is there!

noblegiraffe Thu 18-Jun-15 16:49:29

Socialise girls into cooking and cleaning when they are children, then be surprised when they grow up and do the cooking and cleaning?

loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:50:05

culture but men and women ARE different. so there will be differences, surely?

Squigglypig Thu 18-Jun-15 16:52:20

You don't speak for my strengths or my husbands or those of my friends OP, but I'm glad you are happy with your set-up. smile

Lottapianos Thu 18-Jun-15 16:52:45

'but men and women ARE different'

How? Apart from the obvious biological differences and attachments, how are we so different?

Twinklestein Thu 18-Jun-15 16:53:09

What about having a dick makes you bad at cleaning?

CultureSucksDownWords Thu 18-Jun-15 16:54:20

Men and women are different, biology will tell you that. Generally the genitalia of men differs to that of women, both internally and externally. Adult men tend to have larger bodies and more powerful musculature on average than women. Pubescent teens and adults have differing hormones depending on their gender.

None of that tells me that people need to be socialised differently as babies, children, teens or adults, or that any one activity is more "natural" or innate than any other.

loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:55:45

Because biologically, women are more attuned to looking after their children, that's just a scientific fact, for instance.

Look at a boy and a girl from birth... my parents let me choose whatever toys I wanted and my brother the same... he often played with barbie dolls and I often played with a train set...but our 'favourite' toys were clasically boy and classically girl, respectively. this was NOT forced on us by my parents in any way.

I do believe that gender does naturally give men and women a different out look on life, to some degree, and that degree differs from person to person.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Jun-15 16:56:11

OK OP, I absolutely loathe DIY and any mention of flat pack furniture breaks me out in hives. That's not because I'm a woman though!!! It's most probably because I have very limited spatial awareness, and I know this, and I know I would be no good at all at these tasks, and I like a quiet life and so thinking about doing them stresses me out. My DP (who is a man) is really good at all this stuff - not because he's a man but because he's had lots of opportunities in his life to get good at stuff like this, and develop his spatial awareness, and he gets satisfaction from completing a practical job. We have different experiences and different skills - nowt to do with biological programming!

loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:57:30

twinklestein i see your point re cleaning and completely understand what you mean, but I still feel on some level that women enjoy these tasks more than met, AND, more importantly, feel a desire to have things clean than men do!!! hence why they are more incliend to do it - not because they want to do the task perhaps, but beacause it means more to them to have the end result!

pompodd Thu 18-Jun-15 16:58:33

I'm a man and think that, other than those which might relate to the biological differences which have been referred to already, there is no innate difference in ability/aptitude between men and women when looking at different roles.

So, as a general rule of thumb, men's physiology tends to allow them to be physically stronger than women. But the massive jump to: therefore men are innately better at "heavy lifting" is, in my opinion, entirely socially conditioned.

OP - you are failing to draw a distinction between your experience of liking traditional gender roles and then assuming that your liking of them is innate rather than socially conditioned. You can surely see the difference?

noblegiraffe Thu 18-Jun-15 16:59:36

If cleaning is so enjoyable, why do a lot of people who can afford to hire someone else to do it?

pompodd Thu 18-Jun-15 17:00:45

OP - you're still doing it!!

You say: Because biologically, women are more attuned to looking after their children, that's just a scientific fact, for instance.

Tell me more of this "attuned" to looking after children, and tell me why it is definitely innate and not simply a product of social conditioning.

JAPAB Thu 18-Jun-15 17:01:00

All throughout the animal kingdom the sexes of the species behave in different ways. But it seems the human animal is different. There is no different "hard-wiring" or "genetic programming" or anything else going on under the hood. No, any differences between men and women are entirely due to socialisation and cultural constructs.

Well I think that is the party line anyway.

Regardless however, individual people should be free to make their individual choices rather than being pigeon-holed into something based on a generalisation about there group, irrespective of whether there is any truth in the generalisation.

CultureSucksDownWords Thu 18-Jun-15 17:02:16

I disagree that it is a biological fact that women are more attuned to looking after children.

And in contrast to your anecdote, I was given a wide variety of toys to play with as a child. I used to carry my doll around by its hair, naked, using it as an implement to fight with my siblings! I played with Lego, building things, model aeroplanes, swordfighting and so on. That was natural to me. What does that say to you about what is "natural" and innate?

captainproton Thu 18-Jun-15 17:11:58

All the positive role models I had when young were mainly men, they showed me plumbing, carpentry, wall-papering and basic engineering. I found it immensely interesting and never once longed to do the housework instead. I am sure if there weren't 7 grandaughters and no grandsons things may have been different. It's not just the toys you played with but the things you heard and witnessed that conditioned you into believing women are better at cleaning.

Saltedcaramel2014 Thu 18-Jun-15 17:12:32

I disagree very strongly indeed and I think these kind of views keep the women who don't love domestic life (of which there are many) trapped in an expectation that they should care.

I hate cleaning, and tidying and making house. My other half is naturally tidy and neat. When we go out he's usually the one who remembers the things the baby needs - not me.

I can of course deal with cleaning the house, and doing the laundry , because it's important for family life.

But the suggestion that most women innately like it - it absolutely infuriates me.

tabulahrasa Thu 18-Jun-15 17:12:56

People enjoy cleaning? I thought that was some sort of joke that some people actually like it.

pompodd Thu 18-Jun-15 17:14:24

Agreed, captainproton.

There are very interesting scientific studies on how parents and others unconsciously condition their children into gender stereotypes. I think there was a recent one looking at how parents play with boys and girls differently from a very young age and in so doing reinforce gender roles and stereotypes.

loveyoumore2 Thu 18-Jun-15 17:15:40

captain and pom perhaps you are right and i've been conditioned into thinking this way!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now