The Role Of Gender By Carolyn Huffman

1566 Words7 Pages
In our culture, gender has become a defining factor. A quality that some have come to see as increasingly ambivalent and difficult to define continues to cause assumptions to be made and conclusions to be drawn. “The belief that genes dictate our behavior has enormous appeal” (Fausto-Sterling). From the moment of birth, gender creates expectations for family life, educational and career decisions, and a person’s personal faith. When asked to interview someone about their ‘gendered’ story, Carolyn Huffman immediately came to mind. At 63, she has traveled the globe and spent thirty years in the classroom with late elementary students. Though married for nearly forty years and a stepmother, she has no children of her own. Instead, she has devoted…show more content…
“Dad was totally in charge. We hardly even knew Mom’s opinion on things. I don’t even know if she even had any. She just didn’t express any. Even simple things like buying a new dress. Dad chose things for her” (Huffman). Elmer did the grocery shopping and LaVera cooked with whatever he brought home. “He was so much the head of the household. Sometimes I think it bugged her because she would get mad, but not very often. She enabled him to be that way” (Huffman). This dynamic carried over for their whole life together. When Elmer served as President of Bluffton College, LaVera served as the quintessential first lady and hostess. She continued to defer to him until his death in 2009. Their traditional marriage roles worked for them and they hoped their children would find happiness in marriage as…show more content…
She is careful to clarify that she married because she wanted to, not simply to give in to the pressures. Jerry had grown up in a maternally-run home with his grandmother as his primary caregiver, so he had experienced few of the same gender roles Carolyn had in her home. “He just doesn’t have that ‘look down on women’ thing about him. He just didn’t grow up feeling that way. I think some men have learned not to feel that way. I think he really and truly didn’t and doesn’t. He didn’t grow up thinking that women were second class citizens and needed to have a man to direct them” (Huffman). Jerry also already had children from a previous marriage, thus alleviating any pressure there may have been for Carolyn to have children of her own. She does not remember ever feeling the same pressure to have children that she did to get married. Though, “motherhood is often perceived as the quintessence of womanhood” (Coltrane), studies show that the more educated women are, the longer they put off childbearing (Cherlin). Now with two degrees and several step-children, the any expectations for Carolyn to become a mother

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