Gender Parity,  Life Over Books

Gender Role Reversal in Today’s Times

This morning as I sipped my coffee, a news in the local daily caught my attention. *It was the reversal of a wedding practice, in Maner near Patna. Instead of the groom, it was the bride who took the baraat in a horse chariot, to the marriage venue where she was greeted with great pomp by the groom’s relatives. This reversal of roles was planned much before their wedding was finalized. And it got me thinking. Is this just a mere inter-change of a tradition? Or is it communicating something more- about gender roles reversal? Surely it was worth a scrutiny.

What’s gender role reversal all about? Is it when we get into the other gender’s skin? Or is there something more to it?

Gender roles are predominantly rules laid down by past generations and carried forward, either in the name of tradition or culture. For generations together, with absolutely no anomaly whatsoever, men have been considered to be the best providers. To ensure the home functioned efficiently, the women were the caregivers. When decades back Smriti Irani took the small screen by storm, she was depicted as the epitome of how a woman must be. Beautiful, meticulous, a whiz in the kitchen, home and family, the sanskari bahu and the nurturing figure. More than a decade later, though soap operas have taken a modern avatar, the ambitious woman is still seen as the brash and aggressive bahu, in contrast to the demure sanskari one. Despite many brands coming out with more non-conventional themes for their advertisements, a major chunk still portrays women as the caretakers, instilling traditional gender roles in minds. Thus, it didn’t come as a surprise to me, when at a fine dining restaurant with my family; the bill was first presented to the man of the house.

Is there anything wrong with this? On the surface, it may seem to be no big deal in continuing the age old system of gender roles. But if you scratch deeper, you would find that it isn’t actually so.

A couple of generations back, men would hesitate to marry a woman with an aspiring career. Things have surely changed now, and both genders live similar lives. Both have career aspirations and seek equal opportunities. However, the equations seem to change once the child arrives into the picture. A large percentage of these once ambitious women, drop out of the work force or cut back considerably. Of course one may well argue that this is a personal choice, to be with the child in the formative years.

But when one looks at the corporate world, there is continually a wide gap with regards to women in leadership roles. This is despite the growing break down of gender barriers. So what stops women from climbing up the corporate ladder? The answer to this may lie in the fact that most are loaded with domestic responsibilities, and are entrenched in patriarchal rules. Career advancements are thus pushed into the back seat, and embracing leadership roles become far-fetched. We seem to have a double sided issue at hand here. Where on one side, society’s rule book pins down the woman to the home front, on the other side, women themselves allow their aspirations to be crushed by the stereotypical gender roles.

So does this mean the conventional gender roles must be shed in entirety? Well, it is not exactly that way. It is all about having the freedom of choice, for men as well as for women, to choose what suits their life and situation the best. Whether it is reversal or embracing traditional gender roles, or probably even a mix between the two, it should not be based on the biological aspect of one being a male or female, but the couple together must decide what would be suitable for them.

Surely, roles are changing in recent times, albeit these are mere exceptions. 

At the end of the day, we could preach and argue at stretch about the unfairness in gender roles and expectations. But we must bear in mind that cultures do not change overnight. Patience along with a progressive outlook should be the order of the day.

*News Source: Deccan Herald 26-Feb-2018

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

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30 Comments

  • Akshay Sharma

    It would be great in there is gender roles reverse where women will come in baraat, and husband waiting for her. and husband wears mangalasutra like KI & KA Movie. and he will go to wife home atlast after crying ceremony

  • innatejames

    As a very scheduled person, I love the routine tradition provides but, like you say in this essay, it is important to remember to challenge traditions, to look at what opportunities (or people) the traditions are leaving out.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Ah now thats a valid point pro tradition. Yes it does bring in a sort of discipline and schedule. But then these could be reworked too otherwise

  • BellyBytes

    I don’t think complete role reversal is possible becuase there are somethings ONLY a woman can do like bearing children. Role reversal like the girl’s baraaat to me is mere tokenism. What is really important that women are respected for being who they are not because they are women or they are special….

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Hmm yes, respected for what they are is the key, rather than highlight and segregate on the basis of differences. A valid point indeed.

  • luckygurl

    Hmmm… This made me think of how there are the more explicit gender expectations in a culture, and the more implicit roles we fall into and how hard those are to uncover and combat! I found your structure of rhetorical questions throughout the piece really helped me as a reader to “stay with you.” 🙂 And I think you could do an entire post exploring this one idea: “Where on one side, society’s rule book pins down the woman to the home front, on the other side, women themselves allow their aspirations to be crushed by the stereotypical gender roles.”!

  • writershilpa

    The scenario is surely changing slowly and steadily, but the role of the nurturer still belongs to the woman. Looking after the family after returning from work is still considered a woman’s duty. Changing that mentality of the men is what needs to be done, or needs to happen. And, that is going to take quite some time!

  • Synna Coal

    I always try to live by the philosophy of doing what makes you happy as long as it isn’t harming someone else. I had a customer one time relent to me that his son with a Master’s degree was currently living overseas in London being a stay at home dad to his children. It was bothersome to my customer which happens with parents sometimes, but I couldn’t help but think maybe his son was really happy to be doing so. Interesting share. Thanks for writing about it. 🙂

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Agree that it’s best to work on the philosophy of doing what makes one happy. It’s sad on how there are opinions on stay at home dad’s. But well it’s his choice, and maybe that’s best on their situation.

  • Neha

    Freedom to choose should be at the core of this! I think the role reversal is happening and it will continue, but I guess both the genders need to be taught survival skills.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Agree Neha, freedom to make a choice is the core of all things in life. Let’s see the future generations are better equipped with skills to handle any role.

  • Shirley Corder

    Thought-provoking post, but as others have said, there’s a long way to go. And yet, there must surely be a limit? I don’t WANT to play a man’s role! I’m happy to be a woman. But I strongly object being regarded as inferior or a lower class because of my gender! The Crown of Africa

  • Alice Gerard

    That cultures change slowly is definitely true. But it is really hard to wait for this change to occur! Thank you for a great description of gender roles and changes that have happened, as well as changes that have yet to happen.

  • the bespectacled mother

    I feel this is an unending debate. It should be about choice – free choice and not the forced one where a woman gets pinned to the wall.
    The silver lining is that the change is happening. It may be minuscule but it is there.
    I also read that article in DH and wanted to know whether it was really a change or was it simply for fun?

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Yeah it is surely an unending debate . And I don’t think we should let it die down either. The article was indeed true.. and that’s what got me thinking. Hope they sustain their progressive thought.

  • Shalzmojo

    I think Gender roles are not changing but have changed! Its been sometime now that the women have stepped up and taken reins of their lives and arranged others around it. Women have proven to be the stronger of the two gender, especially with our multi tasking abilities – managing home office and kids, sometimes even elderly parents/in laws – Women seem to be balancing it all really well. Now our families are respecting this fact and giving us the support we need to function easier. There are so so many instance of stay-at-home-dads who have let their wives pursue their careers and are happy to stay at home to look after everything else.
    Like you said, this role playing was handed down through history/culture to us and we had been following it but not without some resistance. I think its more to do with what suits one’s capabilities and interests, than the role assigned by default! That in my opinion is the big change!

  • Rajlakshmi

    Interesting news about bride with her baraatis. A lot of women do drop out or switch their fields to something that isn’t as demanding… But it’s not always due to lack of support but due to guilt. Sometimes even with enough support, the guilt keeps them more inclined towards taking care of family instead of spending that energy in their career. There is nothing right or wrong… It’s just the way a human behavior . The problem lies when someone’s freedom of choice is clipped and no option is left for them. That itself will need a long time to change. A developing society like ours, where the traditional values are constantly clashing with modern lifestyle, it will take time before we see a widespread change.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Agree the problem arises when someone’s freedom is clipped. That’s why the liberty to make a voice must be there irrespective of gender

  • Natasha

    Flexibility in the work scenario for women would be an ideal situation to have. That way more and more women would stick to their careers.
    Finally it boils down to freedom of choice, what the men and women want out of their lives. I agree with Soumya, we don’t need role reversal, but actually suitable roles for both the genders. That’s when a balance will be achieved.
    This is a thought provoking post, Ramya. Thank you for writing.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      You are right Natasha, we need to bring in flexibility, equip both with skills in a similar way, and accept that traditional gender roles need not be stuck on to.

  • Soumya Prasad

    Gender roles are changing yes, but we are very very far away from achieving it fully. Women need to stand up for themselves and not put down the other women who are already doing it. Men need to support their women more and help them rise.

    Maybe we don’t need a role reversal. We need roles that are suitable for both the genders. That’s when try equality would be achieved.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      So true Sowmya… We need both genders doing any role that units their situation best… Equip both the skills to live life the same way.

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