Gender Roles Essay

Gender Roles Essay

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The term gender roles refers to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered appropriate for individuals of a certain gender. These roles vary between cultures. Gender roles, unlike gender itself, are socially constructed. They may reflect the natural aspirations of the gender, or they may be manipulated, resulting in the oppression of a gender.

Historically, gender roles have not always been consistent with those we have today. Though in many ancient societies men have been dominant to women, there are example where women have been considered equal to men, and where women have been dominant over men. In hunting and gathering societies, such as the ones of early humans, males and females were considered equal. Because of the harsh conditions, both genders were needed to maintain the tribe and gather food. Women could not be restricted to just reproduction and child care because the tribe would be limited, and lack the skills of these women. With this evidence, anthropologists can conclude that male dominance and strict gender roles came later in the development of humans and are not the result of biology.

Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest advanced human civilizations, and is therefore, studied extensively by anthropologists. Before the time of Christ, Egyptian males and females were relatively equal. Men and women of any social class, aside from the slaves, shared the same legal status. Although men were considered the head of the family, they treated their wives and female relatives with respect. Women could inherit and run private property (which included land, slaves, and livestock). This property remained the woman's after marriage and could not be taken away by the husband during a divorce. Egyptian w...


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Social Roles. (n.d.). ThinkQuest Library . Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/01443/dc_social.html
Societies With Gender Equality: Ancient Egypt. (n.d.). ThinkQuest Library . Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/01443/nps_equal_egypt.html
Societies With Gender Equality: Ancient Sparta. (n.d.). ThinkQuest Library . Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/01443/nps_equal_sparta.html
Somerville, C. A. (n.d.). How Children Learn About Gender Roles - Associated Content . Associated Content. Retrieved June 4, 2010, from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1928876/how_children_learn_about_gender_roles.html?cat=25
Women Warriors in Ancient Times and Mythology. (n.d.). ThinkQuest Library . Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/01443/itow_ancient.html

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