Culture and Gender RolesMain article: Gender role
Well into prehistoric culture, men are believed to have assumed a variety of social and cultural roles which are likely similar across many groups of humans. In hunter-gatherer societies, men were often if not exclusively responsible for all large game killed, the capture and raising of most or all domesticated animals, the building of permanent shelters, the defense of villages, and other tasks where the male physique and strong spatial-cognition were most useful. Some anthropologists believe that it may have been men who led the Neolithic Revolution and became the first pre-historical ranchers, as a possible result of their intimate knowledge of animal life.
Throughout history, the roles of men have changed greatly. As societies have moved away from agriculture as a primary source of jobs, the emphasis on male physical ability has waned. Traditional gender roles for working men typically involved jobs emphasizing moderate to hard manual labor (see Blue-collar worker), often with no hope for increase in wage or position. For poorer men among the working classes, the need to support their families, especially during periods of industrial change and economic decline, forced them to stay in dangerous jobs working long arduous hours, often without retirement. Many industrialized countries have seen a shift to jobs which are less physically demanding, with a general reduction in the percentage of manual labor needed in the work force (see White-collar worker). The male goal in these circumstances is often of pursuing a quality education and securing a dependable, often office-environment, source of income.
The Men's Movement is in part a struggle for the recognition of equality of opportunity with women, and for equal rights irrespective of gender, even if special relations and conditions are willingly incurred under the form of partnership involved in marriage. The difficulties of obtaining this recognition are due to the habits and customs recent history has produced. Through a combination of economic changes and the efforts of the feminist movement in recent decades, men in some societies now compete with women for jobs that traditionally excluded women. Some larger corporations have instituted tracking systems to try to ensure that jobs are filled based on merit and not just on traditional gender selection. Assumptions and expectations based on sex roles both benefit and harm men in Western society (as they do women, but in different ways) in the workplace as well as on the topics of education, violence, health care, politics, and fatherhood - to name a few. Research has identified anti-male sexism in some areas (a concept which must be distinguished and differentiated from the traditional anti-female sexism in its ubiquity and impact) which can result in what appear to be unfair advantages given to women.
The Parsons model was used to contrast and illustrate extreme positions on gender roles. Model A describes total separation of male and female roles, while Model B describes the complete dissolution of barriers between gender roles. The examples are based on the context of the culture and infrastructure of the United States. However, these extreme positions are rarely found in reality; actual behavior of individuals is usually somewhere between these poles. The most common 'model' followed in real life in the United States and Great Britain is the 'model of double burden'.
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Famous quotes containing the words culture and, roles, culture and/or gender:
“Whatever offices of life are performed by women of culture and refinement are thenceforth elevated; they cease to be mere servile toils, and become expressions of the ideas of superior beings.”
—Harriet Beecher Stowe (18111896)
“It was always the work that was the gyroscope in my life. I dont know who could have lived with me. As an architect youre absolutely devoured. A womans cast in a lot of roles and a man isnt. I couldnt be an architect and be a wife and mother.”
—Eleanore Kendall Pettersen (b. 1916)
“Our culture still holds mothers almost exclusively responsible when things go wrong with the kids. Sensing this ultimate accountability, women are understandably reluctant to give up control or veto power. If the finger of blame was eventually going to point in your direction, wouldnt you be?”
—Ron Taffel (20th century)
“Anthropologists have found that around the world whatever is considered mens work is almost universally given higher status than womens work. If in one culture it is men who build houses and women who make baskets, then that culture will see house-building as more important. In another culture, perhaps right next door, the reverse may be true, and basket- weaving will have higher social status than house-building.”
—Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. Excerpted from, Gender Grace: Love, Work, and Parenting in a Changing World (1990)