Gender Role Changes from the 1950s to Today Essay

Gender Role Changes How does time influence gender roles? Gender is defined as the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex, and gender role is defined as an overt public presentation of one’s gender identity. In the book, The Catcher in the Rye, the strict gender roles defined the way people were expected to act and how they were viewed. Compared to what we see today those expectations have changed since the 50’s, for the better.

During the 1950’s men and women were viewed contrastively different, as males had the upperhand in society, and they were both expected to do different things. The men were the breadwinners, for example Holden’s father, who works as a corporation lawyer (pg. 107;172) and Mr. Spencer and Mr. Antolini, who both worked as teachers. But we don’t get to see what their wives work as, and considering the times, they most likely didn’t work at all. Men took care of their women.

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Like Holden wanted to do for Sally Hayes (pg. 132), when he said that they should run away, that he would get a job when the money they had ran out and they would maybe get married and live in a cabin. It was never said that she would also get a job. Or after she declined his offer, saying that they were too young and that he needed to go to college first, there was no mention of Sally going to college either. The women were expected to act as the homemaker and take care f children and men were expected to work and take care of the family in a monetary sense. Our 21st century views on gender roles have changed since the 1950s, people now have more freedom. As years have passed, the general views on women are the ones that have changed the most. Due mostly to the many protests over the years, women are now seen in a more equal way to men, they have more opportunities to work, educate themselves, and even be the main breadwinner in the household.

Some men even stay home and do some of the jobs women normally did in the past, although this is still rare. But there still continues to be some discrimination and oppression. Sometimes women who have the same qualifications as men get paid less or don’t get the job at all because unfair bias. The views and such on men have changed though not as much as those on women but the job opportunities have increased, as there are now more male nurses, male secretaries, and previously stated househusbands. Something that is also happening in our ulture is homosexuality, it affects gender views and expectations of the past because many lesbians tend to act “butch” or a bit manly and many gays tend to act a bit more feminine, although this is not always true. This challenges the past views and expectations because femininity is seen as only for women and masculinity as only for men. The strict gender roles that defined the way people were expected to act and how they were viewed have changed since the 1950s in a way that allows people more freedom to express who they are. This makes me wonder how gender roles will be like in the future.