Gender Roles in Jeopardy

Erica Ahern Eng 102-09 Essay 3 November 4, 2009 Gender Roles in Jeopardy Traditional gender roles are being threatened in today’s economy, the out-dated stereotype that men are better workers than women is now absurd. Although, the stereotype that women can take care of the household better than men has not changed. For as long as human behavior has been documented there have been strict ideals of the different gender roles in parenting.
These hunter and gatherer sub sequential gender responsibilities have fundamentally defined what the correct social position for men and women are, yet recently in some households those traditional gender roles have become reversed. The Movie “Daddy Day Care” is about the plight of a man named Charlie, played by Eddie Murphy, who is laid off at his job when the health division in his company is shut down. Charlie had worked in product development at a large food company, and was the main provider for his family.
Charlie’s unfortunate employment situation left his wife with the responsibility as breadwinner of the household. Due to the new financial strain put on his family and no job possibilities on the horizon he and his friend Phil, played by Jeff Garlin, are forced to take their sons out of an exclusive program called The Chapman Academy and become stay at home fathers. Desperate for money, Charlie opens up a day care center, which offers reasonable pricing and flexible hours. Unfortunately for Charlie his business doesn’t exactly take off with the popularity he had expected it too.

Charlie thought that with his tremendous competitive rates that he would have an overwhelming starting success. Unfortunately for Charlie and his friend Phil their potential customers were very patronizing about two men taking care of their children, due to this typically being a woman’s occupation. The idea that women are better than men at maintaining a household and carrying out domestic responsibilities is rebutted by Laura Vanderkam in her article “What Moms Can Learn From Dads; Stay-at-home Men Find More Time for Leisure, Less Time for Chores and Present a Healthier Picture of Domestic Life. Vanderkam’s article makes a point to explain that as more men are taking on the primary parenting role, that research has shown that they are undertaking the household responsibilities better than the more traditional families today. (Vanderkam 1). She conveys that with men, domestic work and child care are considered two separate jobs. That men believe that the task of caring for children is reasonably different from doing the housework. (Vanderkam 2). Men are seeming to have a better strategy for dividing the responsibilities with their spouses, and giving themselves more time for leisure.
Peg Tyre and Daniel McGinn explain in “She Works He Doesn’t” that the unemployment rate has recently hit six percent. They explain that several million families are experiencing dads coming home from work with a severance package, especially white-collar men due to corporate downsizing. Tyre and McGinn also state that women are currently earning more college degrees and M. B. A. s than men, which is making them better equipped to pick up the financial slack. (Tyre 51). Although, gender often shapes the work opportunities and experiences that men and women often have in industrial societies.
They also mention, though, that the shift of the wife becoming the breadwinner can be very difficult when families are forced into it. (Tyre 56). It is pointed out in Hilary Potkewitz’s article “Daddy and Me! ; Newly Jobless Fathers Discover Ups and Downs of Stay-at home Life,” that due to the recession most layoff’s in the New York industry have been male dominated. This predicament leaves more and more men having to undertake the responsibility as primary caregiver to their children. This role can often be intimidating for men due to the fact that most child activity networks are more geared towards women guardians. In a world of Mommy and Me groups, breast feeding workshops and ballet classes where the aesthetic is overwhelmingly pink, there are few programs that reach out to fathers. ” She explains that fathers new to the role of caregiver are easy to spot due to their lack of experience with pushing strollers, that they often bump them into inanimate objects. (Potkewitz 1). Stay at home dad’s also often feel rejected by nannies and mothers in child care classes, that women make them feel inadequate as primary caregivers. (Potkewitz 2).
If a husband loses his job and is having trouble finding work, the wife can be justified in threatening to leave him. However, consider the arbitrary reaction if a husband threatened to leave a wife who was in the exact same predicament. He would probably be crucified. If a man loses his job, the woman is justified in resenting the fact that the financial burden is then thrust on her. Nevertheless, a man is not permitted to resent this very same dilemma. If a man is laid off and cares for the household and kids, while the wife is working, he can be accused of not pulling his weight.
Yet this is exactly the same situation that women demand more recognition for. It’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to demand a man make a certain salary, to be deemed “marriage material”, and provide stability. Likewise, if a man demands the wife do the cooking and cleaning, he can now be labeled a sexist hater of women. If he asks her to carry her weight financially, just like he does, he can be criticized as an inadequate provider. In conclusion, with the recent recession in the economy more men are being laid off of their jobs.
With women now becoming more educated and being able to achieve jobs of higher pay and better achieved status than in the past they are now able to assume the role of breadwinner. Women’s and men’s participation in paid work and the nature of that work often determine their social value, and overall status in society. This reversal of habitual gender roles is slowly becoming more popular, and hopefully more acceptable in today’s society. The ideals of the different gender roles when it comes to parenting are now in jeopardy as women are now earning higher salaries than that of the past.
Men are also proving themselves adequate as the caregivers of their children, and reshaping the generic belief that only women can be domesticated. Work Cited Tyre, Peg. McGinn, Daniel “She Works, He Doesn’t. ” The Changing World of Work. Ed. Marjorie Ford. New York: Pearson 2006. 50-58. Potkewitz, Hilary. “Daddy and Me! ; Newly jobless fathers discover ups and downs of stay-at-home life. ” Crain’s New York Business. (March 16, 2009) Vanderkam, Laura. “What Mom’s Can Learn From Dads; Stay-at home men find more time for leisure, less time for chores and present a healthier picture of domestic life. ” USA Today. (June 24, 2008) Ahern

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