By: Alexis Smith and Nathan Petithomme
It is thought by some that each subsequent generation is becoming more liberal, attributed to the different experiences in life each generation has. For example. when asked about his upbringing, Mr. Michael Bucholtz, PE teacher, said, “I was raised in a traditional household where my mother did most of the house work, and my dad was the…breadwinner.” However, he later stated that the gender roles present in his upbringing do not reflect on his life with his wife, where they both share equal responsibilities and approach tasks with the mindset of things needing to be done to keep up their house and not by defining them as male or female tasks.
Overall, people are becoming more open-minded, and gender roles no longer have a dominant position is people’s lives. The idea of not adhering to society’s expectations of what constitutes as being masculine or feminine is gradually becoming more accepted.
Many youth today in society, though, still feel pressured to act in a way that matches societal gender norms. When asked about the words generally connected to being a male, Mr. Tim Patula, PE teacher, listed words like “tough,” “extreme,” and “manly.” The reality of today is that males often feel pressured to act in ways that embody these words, and if they don’t they often face ridicule and are labeled derogatory terms implying their femininity. Similarly, females are expected to act in a feminine manner, ladylike, mild mannered, girly, polite, subtle, and motherly. Ms. Jill Simon, English teacher, spoke about how these expectations become apparent in the classroom where “there is an expectation for female teachers to act maternal with their students while there is no expectation that male teachers act paternal. When [female teachers] do not act this way, students sometimes label [them] as ‘mean’ or ‘unfair.’” Pre-existing gender roles have led to people adhering to what they were taught is acceptable for their gender, but it is imperative that we understand that it is acceptable to fluctuate in your gender expression and that you’re not confined to a gender binary.
Every day, people are defying gender roles. Ms. Molly Myers, social studies teacher, shops in both women and men’s departments for clothing. Mr. Corey Morrison, math teacher, owns a pink phone case. Mr. Isaiah Peachey’s female partner handles car mechanics while he cleans. Ms. Melissa Beemsterboer, science teacher, loves and studies Physics, regardless of it being a male dominated field. Mr. Zachary Linderman’s wife is the “breadwinner” in their relationship, and he would elect to be the stay at home father if they had to choose. Society is changing, and people do not have to confine themselves to traditional gender expression.
To everyone that may be struggling with not conforming to societal gender roles, Ms. Beemsterboer had a message: “You have to have the confidence, even though it’s sometimes hard for you depending on what your gender role is, to push yourself be proud of yourself and do the things you want to do.”