I believe in gender roles (but not in the way you think)

I absolutely believe in gender roles. There are simply some things men are better at, and some things women are better at.

But do not quote the above out of context with the rest of my view on gender roles.

Roles are things you audition for when you believe they suit you, not things you are born into. That count for gender roles too. More men than women, for example, audition for the work role of plumber, so it is fine that more men end up as plumbers. But those men chose the role of plumber, and a woman could, if so inclined, learn the same thing.

A role is something you leave when you get off the stage. The actor who plays Hamlet is not Hamlet any more when he gets off the stage. A mother may choose with the father, say, a stay at home role while her children grows up, but she may want a paid employee or small business owner role again when they are grown.

You can play very different roles consecutively during a movie career.  An actor who isn’t versatile, is a poor actor. Men are not meant to take the role of leader, protecter and provider in every situation. In fact, some of life’s movies does not have such a role in the cast. Women are not born to follow, to obey, and squash their own personality and gifts in every situation.

A gender is usually better at its own roles, but Linda Hunt won an Oscar for playing Billy Kwan in “The year of living dangerously. It is fine to note that, on average, men does better at some jobs- say disciplining teens-, and women better at others -say nurturing little ones, for example. But there are certainly great single fathers out there who nurture their little ones well, and great single mothers who’se teens are well-disciplined and well-mannered with a will to succeed in school. There are no hard and fast law that only one sex can be succesful at any given task.

Mostly, you would rather cast a woman as Cinderella’s stepsister, but in a pantomime you could cast a man. People often have reasons for choosing a certain person for a role- even if that is not how most of us think the actor for that role should look.

There are few, if any, laws about who the director should cast in his movies, but common sense keep him from casting a 74-year old man in the role of a 28-year old kindergarden teacher. Even with all the previous statements, nobody claims all actors (both sexes) are the same. With no hard-and-fast gender castes, gender roles will still exist. As people gravitate towards roles which suit them, there will always be more men in some tasks and more women in others. But that is no reason to make laws barring any gender from any institution, nor reason to make equity laws to help one gender.

One actor could replace another. A boy may originally have been cast as only one of the multitude of angels in his church’s Christmas play, but get the role of Joseph when another boy suddenly need to go to the hospital. In real world, a mother who used to stay at home could need to get a job when her husband lose his, or for any of a number of reasons.

It is foolish to underestimate an actor/ actress because he/ she plays only a supporting role in the current show. And a woman who seem to look right in a minor supporting role could still get large roles in God’s work in future.

In short, I believe in gender roles – flexible parts that you pick up when you are the best person for the job- but not in gender castes.


Note: The idea for this article comes from here: http://nolongerquivering.com/2010/01/27/the-god-card-subordinate-but-equal/


About Retha Faurie

Attempting to question everything, reject the bad and hold fast to the good.
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4 Responses to I believe in gender roles (but not in the way you think)

  1. Natasha Swingfield says:

    It was extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on this site soon.

  2. KR Wordgazer says:

    “Roles but not castes.” I like that.

  3. Karen Burch says:

    Lovely! Thanks very much.

    As my philosophy professor (a Christian) and I were discussing the other day, there seems to be a far healthier flexibility in the more egalitarian view of gender.

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