Why Breaking Gender Roles Is A Good Thing
Written by
Raven Huffman
January 2015
Written by
Raven Huffman
January 2015

Gender Rolesa theoretical construct involving a set of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex.

Application: Gender roles are seen as the idea that girls should be great mothers, unselfish, and typically like the colors purple and pink. On the other hand, boys have manly jobs, are emotionally distant and like to get dirty from hard work. 

** This next section holds spoilers over the movie, Frozen. If you do not wish to view them, skip the next paragraph.**

Gender Roles In Culture: As mentioned previously, main female characters are always seemed to be presented with a fatal flaw of needing a man or romance or some type of need to be loved by someone else. Frozen is a Disney film that is now being dubbed the "you don't need a man to save you" sort of story, which holds some validity. Still, Anna (the main heroine) falls in love with two men and in the end finds the one that is better for her. WHY? Why did Kristoph and Anna have to fall in love? Personally I feel that Kristoph's role could have taught Anna that friendship, and loving yourself comes first. They could have ended the story as being friends. THAT would have been a great ending. The gender role of romance always needing to be found within writing is getting slightly disappointing. This shouldn't be confused with Anna's character though. Anna was a girl who needed to find a way to learn what love is, and how she should see herself rather than what others see in her. She wanted to fall in love, get out and see the world outside the castle walls. Anna falling in love with Hans (the bad guy) is totally in her character, which helps the story flow. While falling in love with another man, who treats her better, is a great great thing, it could have been omitted. Kristoph could have taught her the value of friendship and adventure while Elsa (her sister) shows her that not every love story involves love interests. Simple rewrite, could have empowered women everywhere.

Why I HATE Gender Roles: The idea that every person is expected to fit in a cookie cutter lifestyle has always been deeply resented by me merely for the fact that every person deserves to be themselves. I am a woman, who has always loved being independent (bossy as some would put it) and an individual (rebellion as some would also call it). Growing up, I never, ever wanted to married nor have children, which was met with a great force of resistance. No one could grasp the idea that I didn't want do, what some would consider, my main goal in life: the American dream. I was always told that once I met someone and fell in love that I would change my mind. That made me resist it even more! Books that had ditsy, confident young women as heroines no longer would interest me because of that fact that every women was expected to be a damsel. Mainly I blame Hollywood. But I leave that rant for another day. The point is, not every one is the same. Just because a girl is a "tomboy" does not make her a butch lesbian. Simply, that is her choice and what makes her special.

A store ad breaking gender roles for children by allowing

boys to be pictured playing with "girl" toys.

How To Change It: When writing a story, it always starts with a good strong character (not always physically or mentally) but strong in the sense that every piece of them flows naturally. The reader doesn't have to guess at how the character reacts, or feels, or talks. They KNOW this character inside and out. By simply creating a sensitive male character, or a strong dominant female (who are good in the sense of the story line) can take hold of a gender role banishing story. It doesn't even have to be drastic! For example, making a man love children, or yearn to be approved by women, can create a character to break the gender role expected of them. Having a man being a male nurse is even odd because women are typically seen as nurses. It really is that simple. 

It's not like I am requesting everyone take out their typical characters and replace them with funky, masculine women and emotional men; tiny tweaks to a person's character can create a totally different story with a strong moral fiber that will speak to the readers. Showing the readers, especially young adults, that it is okay to be who you are even if it isn't the norm. The story line doesn't have to be monumental, nor life changing, for the reader either. Little tidbits of information, and acceptance can go a long way into changing gender roles by letting people be themselves. Allowing boys to play with dolls so that maybe they grow up to be good fathers, or girls playing with trucks in the mud so that she doesn't believe she needs to be a porcelain doll. It can speak to your reader, and even yourself, in the message your book leaves on a person. Perhaps even helping their eyes welcome sights they aren't used to rather than resisting. 

Click here to see Disney princess looking NOT like your typical princess.

Click here to view it on Writer's Block..

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