Traditions, Values and Young People

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Changing Gender Roles



Two students from the German school at Mülheim investigated the change of gender roles and how it has affected families. They wrote:

"There are no known cultures without gender roles. They have always developed historically and undergo constant changes.

The various possibilities of how the sexes can share their tasks have almost all existed at some place and at some point in time. However, there are gender roles which are widespread and common.

Traditionally it was claimed that there were "natural" and clearly separated gender roles, the male and the female one, which men and women automatically held. The men were the heads of the family and the breadwinners; they always had outside contacts. They were, to a greater extent, the strong, rational, aggressive and sexually active persons. The women were subjected to a female protector (father, husband); they were in charge of social relations within the family. They were, for the most part, the weak, emotional and sexually passive or uninterested persons.

Today this old distribution of gender roles is not so dominant any more. Both men and women have jobs, not just the men. Men look after the household and the kids more frequently than before. However, a man who takes the role of the househusband for a longer period because the woman has a better education or a better job will meet with little appreciation from many men and women."