Gender Role Reversal

What’s The Point?

In society, men and women have been slotted into specific categories.  Each gender is given a set of stereotypes which they must adhere to, or else they are seen as “weird” or “gay/lesbian.”  Men and women who do not perform their traditional gender roles are called “sissies” or “tom boys.”

Male Stereotypes

  • Men work in “dirty jobs” (e.g. construction, mechanics, plumbers)
  • Men are good at math and science
  • Men are strong
  • Only men can be doctors, engineers, scientists or work with technology
  • At home, men perform the “dirty jobs” of mowing the law, taking out the trash etc.
  • Men play sports and video games
  • Men enjoy camping, fishing, hiking and hunting
  • Men are lazy and messy
  • Men are in charge of their wives at home or are the manager, CEO, or owner in the workplace
  • Men do not cry or show emotion

Female Stereotypes

  • Women have “clean jobs” (e.g. secretaries, teachers, librarians)
  • Women weak and need rescuing or saving
  • Women are not good with technology
  • At home, women raise the children, cook meals and clean the house
  • Women like to sing and dance
  • Women are flirts
  • Women are to be submissive to their husbands or male co-workers
  • Women are not politicians, doctors or lawyers
  • Women are supposed to be pretty
  • Women are full of emotions and cry all the time

I don’t know about you, but not every man I know is an “Overly Manly Man” and not every woman I know is a 50’s Housewife.  There are many women who enjoy sports and video games, hate cooking and cleaning and are practicing doctors, lawyers and scientists just as there are many men who enjoy staying at home with their children, know nothing about cars and are professional ballerinas.  Therefore, the point of this blog is to help break traditional gender stereotypes by showing that males can perform “female” roles and females can perform “male” roles.

Gender role reversal occurs when a male or female performs the traditional role in society of the opposite sex, for example a female construction worker or a male stay-at-home dad.  Gender role reversals are not always accepted in society however.  A study done by Costrich, Feinstein, Kidder, Marecek and Pascale in 1975 showed that when men and women performed a gender role reversal, they were less accepted than those who performed their traditional roles.  Gender role reversals are seen to have an effect on self-esteem and self-identity as well, as your gender role plays an important part in the relationships you form.  When you perform a reversed gender role, you are less accepted into society, resulting in low self-esteem and a lack of self-identity.  Male gender role reversals are seen as being more damaging for men than for women.  Society is more accepting of a more masculine woman thanks to the years of work performed by feminist works for equality.  Effeminate men are less accepted however and are typically labeled “gay” while masculine women are not always labeled as “lesbian.”  It is important that gender role reversal is examined to shed light onto these falsities found in society.

Judith Butler talks about what it means to perform your gender and the damaging effect role reversals can have on a child.  Her point about “sissy boys” and “tom boys” as being a stereotype that are harmful, especially to children, is relevant to the idea of gender role reversals as a sissy boy would be a boy who is considered to be effeminate while a tom boy is a girl who acts more manly.  Both labels are associated with a person who participates and performs in a gender that is different from the one they were “born with.”

Works Cited

Brewer, Holly.  “List of Gender Stereotypes.”  Health Guidance.  28 February 2013.  <http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15910/1/List-of-Gender-Stereotypes.html&gt;.

Wentworth, Diane Keyser and Robert M. Chell.  “Gender Identity at Home: Comparing the Role of Househusband to Housewife.”  Psychology of Gender Identity.  Ed. Janice W. Lee.  New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2005.  28 February 2013.  <http://books.google.ca/books?id=gt3vtp3dcvMC&pg=PA117&dq=gender+role+reversal&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dHcvUevqFa2-2AXy04DABg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=true&gt;.

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6 thoughts on “What’s The Point?

  1. Pingback: A Woman In A Man’s World…And Vice Versa | What's My Role?

  2. Your post on gender role reversal was very insightful! By expressing that it is perfectly normal if a man is feminine or a woman is masculine, you have broken societies ‘traditional’ outlook on the topic. The inclusion of the Judith Butler video does a great job of supporting your argument and is very interesting to watch! Good job!

    • Thanks Talia! It’s such an interesting topic (as you know haha). I think it’s great that the class is able to recognize the difference in gender stereotypes and are able to refute them as being wrong.

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