August 8, 2011

On the Inequality of Switching Gender Roles

Caveat: I'm not saying this is how EVERYONE thinks. There are wonderful, open-minded, and thoughtful writers and readers out there. These are simply my observations about the vast majority of many blogs and articles I've read.

You see a lot of applause given to female characters who defy the conventions of traditionally female roles. Example? Katniss Everdeen, the consummate hunter. The provider, breadwinner, protector. Practical. Aloof. A little emotionally constipated, which only seems to make her more endearing.

But why is it that, when a male character (particularly the main protagonist) falls too far from his traditional roles, it doesn't garner the same level of applause, if ANY? Make a male character sensitive and a bit clumsy and, suddenly, he's just not MANLY enough. Or *gasp* he's a WIMP. And he will only shed that stigma when he goes out and kills something with his hands! As if a man's character should be defined by his physical prowess and little else.

If the male character in question is a side character, then he's relegated to comic relief. B/c we all know male characters who exhibit traditionally female traits are SO FUN TO LAUGH AT, RIGHT? (note: sarcasm)

But what does this mean then? That traditionally female traits are undesirable in a protagonist? But that's both ridiculous and insulting. And not at all true considering the number of female protagonists who do not kick any butt at all. To stick with the Hunger Games characters, Prim was a stark contrast to Katniss in every way, but her strength, although quieter, was just as significant as her sister's.

Well then the next logical conclusion is that traditionally female traits are undesirable in a MALE protagonist. But... why? Why the double standard? Why are women applauded for not having perceived female traits, but men are considered emasculated for doing the same?

Is this a symptom of a larger issue? (Yes) Has the historical efforts of women to obtain equal rights with men given us the notion that only qualities found in men are what we should aspire to? INTELLECTUALLY, we know this isn't true. Then why is it socially acceptable for a girl to play with toy trucks, but so many parents throw a fit if their boy wants a doll?

(And by men having perceived female traits, I do NOT mean anything that women have been fighting for hundreds of years to overcome--the inequality, the diminished sense of being simply for having a different sex organ, the lack of civil rights, etc.)

I'd love to know what you guys think ♥

I say we just do away with the notion of gender roles :)

Have a great week, all!

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