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Anonymous asked in Social ScienceGender & Women's Studies · 1 decade ago

Traditional gender roles: men got the better deal?

According to traditional gender roles


1/ Go out to work. Could be dangerous (e.g. coal mine), stressful, or if you are lucky - just boring. Often involves the stress/inconvenience of commuting.

2/ Drafted to fight in wars, unless already a professional soldier. Either way dangerous and tough work.

3/ Don't get to see much of their children as they grow up.

4/ Emotionality dicouraged e.g. can be shot for cowardice in wartime.

5/ Education for some in the privileged classes (exam pressure, lots of books etc)


1/ Clean the home, which is boring, repetitive, low skilled.

2/ Bring up the children. Taking care of infants can be stressful.

3/ Are expected to express emotions (e.g. cry etc).

4/ Have crafts (e.g. embroidery or music) instead of education.

In many ways both roles are valuable and perhaps a sensible division of labour. If these are the only roles available, can we say that men clearly have the better deal?

(Please feel free to add to the lists).

16 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think you need to hop back in that time machine.

    1. First, as to women "clean the home"- men do that too, and housekeeping services are now affordable and readily available.

    2. Most kids spend at least part of their day in day care or early childhood education.

    3. When, exactly, are we doing all this crying? Have you ever MET a woman?

    4. There are more women in college, grad school and law school today that there are men. If education and crafts are the options, I think you should take up needlepoint.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    This is one of the most interesting questions I've seen here. The answers are also interesting, accurate, and even surprising. It's been my small observation that many men still think they have the better deal and "women's work" is boring. One thing that surprised me in reading the answers is how many women said positive things about the work they do and how satisfying it can be. I've worked outside the home in high tech industries that housework can't hold a candle to as far as complexity, and interesting subject matter and I like the stimulating environment. I would go bonkers trying to raise kids. I would also go bonkers with fear if I had to fight in a war.

    I agree that roles are changing, but there is still a lot of social pressure for people to look or act certain ways. For example, women can wear just about anything, but a man could lose his job, family, even his life, if he wore women's clothes in public. I think I'll ask a question about this sometime.

    I also see how men can benefit financially from their education and work. Many women still try to marry someone who can support them. Even so, if they don't benefit enough financially from the marriage, and outlive their spouse, then they may have little money, or education to rely on when they get older. She may not have had good paying jobs long enough to get social security so she may face poverty.

    It's a tough question to answer, but a good answer can help many people. Perhaps the best way to get by is to not worry about things you can't change and learn to get along as well as you can with what you have available (i.e. talents, knowledge, possessions, whatever.)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Gender roles are always changing though - if you go back to before the Industrial Revolution you find that most families were home centred with everyone pitching in - it was only when a) work moved to the cities and b) women were barred from working the same hours / jobs as men in the 19th century that you begin to see definite gender role division - before that it was a bit of a free for all. I would say there's nothing wrong with either role, so long as it's freely chosen. If you want to work, not working will devastate you, and if you want to spend time with the kids, not being able to do that will devastate you. I would say the 'men's' role does accord greater economical and status rewards, but the 'women's' role has less risks such as negative performance review, pay cut or being sacked - so swings and roundabouts (although I personally would prefer the men's role, if I had to choose, as I hate to not work) :-)

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  • Karen
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    My greatest preference is crafts as well as education; but as I have been less fortunate financially, the education I've had access to is independent study. I gain as much knowledge, but I don't get the pretty piece of paper to legitimize it.

    If the traditional path is all that's available, I'd rather have the feminine role. I like to express my emotions and raising your own children can be rewarding.

    Caring for the home is only low-skilled if you forget that before there were doctors, mothers were healing ailments with what they had in their kitchens. Home-making is every bit as much a skill as anything else. How many people know how to get concrete out of a cotton t-shirt? I do.

    I could go on for quite awhile about how home-makers are every bit as important as everyone else, but nobody would bother to read it anyway as I seem to be the only woman who sees the value in it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's not a better deal for either. Sure, the way that you've listed things it makes it seem as though women did pretty much nothing but you forgot the fact that women had no options. You could get married, be a school teacher or a nurse and that was about it. If you want to go even further back to the 19th century your choices were even more limited than that. Many a woman found herself in an untenable situation because of that lack of options.

    There are pitfalls and obstacles to overcome no matter your gender, socio-economic standing, etc. There's no way to qualify who has it "better."

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  • 1 decade ago

    I agree that the old system was also bad for or hard on men, in many ways.

    No, the whole point is that is is NOT a sensible division of labour. Why SHOULDN'T men be allowed to be part of their young children's lives, and why SHOULDN'T women be allowed to persue education and careers of their choice?

    If it works out better for a given couple, why shouldn't the man be home taking care of house and babies?

    The whole point is that people should have some freedom and choice.

    Oh, and being shot for cowardice is just one tiny aspect of the "emotionality discouraged" (one that happens to only a tiny fraction of men). "Boys don't cry" from an appallingly early age -- no matter how cry-worthy the situation, for instance.

    It's wussy to love or show love in certain ways.

    You have to be ready to engage in violence in certain circumstances (hitting and being hit in the face, and such).

    You aren't allowed to express uncertainty or fear.

    On the other hand, women aren't supposed to have minds or opinions; or are to keep them to themselves.

    Man works from sun to sun on weekdays, minus vacation and sick-leave; but women are on-call 24/7/52.

    Why should two poorly divided up sets of roles be the only roles available? And why should they be divvied up on completely irrelevant grounds, rather than personal likes and aptitudes?

    Besides, in today's economy, it's not possible for a man to meet his entire family's financial needs.

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  • Done
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I think that the division of labor is changing with the times; more men are cleaning the home, staying with the kids.

    I think expectations of these divisions should be discussed with said couple as to what would ultimately benefit them. Most people I know are two-income families, so the traditional roles aren't there any more.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    nobody has a role they play n their gender. People can b whatever they want to b and u forgot to put being used as sex objects, treated as second class not long ago, and stoned to death if they cheated even if their husband did on the womens role list. No guys don't have a better deal we haveto put up there crap even now! Women r just as smart as men were not blind and we know that guys today r trying to make us nieve. We r more than skinny sex objects used to carry kids. If u ask me they should have drafted us n the Korean and Vietnam wars we can bleed for a week out of every month and still survive.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Looking at that list, I have to say, men have it harder.

    Back in earlier times life was a lot harder and there was not much work around. Men worked such terrible and dangerous jobs in conditions that people could not even begin to comprehend, often risking their life and limb, for very little pay(if any at all). It would not have been fair for one household to have two working adults. Due to the fact that women have babies, men took on the resposibilty and went to work.

    Even nowadays, all of the dangerous and risky jobs are still being done by men.

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  • 7 years ago

    As a woman (who likes being a woman) i'd rather have the "men's deal" because if i was forced to become a housewife i'd stick my head in the oven. I do not understand anyone who would like such a thing, it doesnt seem something even worth breathing for. Sad, bored, uneducated, pointless life... no thanks.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If you read up on social history of the poor you will see that either was pretty crap. I tend to think that life was pretty crap for all of them, but I would say that men have had more freedom, and I would rather live in a hedge than live in a gilded cage. But then I would probably die of pneumonia... oh choices, choices...

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