Are gender roles really important? (x)
Kirsten Dunst recently did an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK and set off a firestorm of controversy. Her comments about gender roles appeared by many to be judgmental and close-minded. “I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued. We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mum created,” Dunst said. “Sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.”
What Dunst doesn’t seem to understand is that everyone is different. Not every woman is the same and not every man is the same. So, the quote “you need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman” sounds extremely ignorant. If a man is comfortable being the provider, that’s fine. If a man naturally fits the macho, sports-loving, beer-drinking stereotype every man is expected to be, good for him. If a woman naturally falls into the category of the caregiver, that’s fine too. She’s not hurting anybody by cooking, going shopping, and flipping through “Cosmopolitan” magazine.
I truly believe everybody should be who they are. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t fit those stereotypes, that’s also okay. The worst thing a person can do is suppress their true self. As a gay man, I grew up dealing with men who saw my sexuality as a sign of weakness. Since they were so caught up in maintaining that macho front, they reacted to me with homophobia. This taught me a valuable lesson when it came to how harmful gender roles can be.
If people suppress their true self, because it doesn’t fit how they think they should be, it not only hurts others, but themselves as well. They miss out on friendships and end up living in an environment that is incompatible with who they really are. The people who they call “friends” aren’t people they can relate to on any level. They may not even have friends. They will look back and regret the fact that they missed out on so much. They won’t be living life at all.
It seems to some that life was much better in the fifties. The “Leave It To Beaver” style household is the image most people hold on to from that time. White heterosexuals married with kids; the wife stayed home while the husband worked. At the end of the day, the kids came home from school and the mother had dinner prepared. However, appearances can be deceiving. Outside of the white heterosexual population, gay men were being arrested for simply being gay. Many gay men married women to hide their sexuality. Those men forced themselves to live the way men were expected to live. The women who stayed married to these men were also forcing themselves to live up to others’ expectations. Divorce wasn’t as acceptable in those days as it is now. They remained in unhealthy relationships, instead of finding someone that would bring them happiness. This kind of dysfunction, although it existed, was highly ignored in those conservative times.
I believe Kirsten Dunst was incorrect when she said that traditional gender roles are the reason relationships work. That might work for her and that’s fine. I think her mistake was saying that everyone should be the same way. Every human being is different. Therefore, every couple is different and will respond well to different things. We’re not all carbon copies of each other. That’s what makes the human race so beautiful.
What do you think about Kristen’s comments? Is she right in supporting traditional gender roles? Sound off in the comments below.