Running a house…becoming a wife….

Gender roles in a traditional old-english marriage.

I have been doing a little research recently into the roles of men and women within a marriage. Although modern-day roles seem to be more integrated I was intrigued to find out how different gender roles were back in the ‘good old days.’

According to my research the roles of a male and female within a marriage setting derives from the social construction in which such beings grow up. In 1955 Parsons created two family structures. Structure A shows total segregation between male and female roles; males would be the breadwinner, they would go to ‘the office’ per say, and would be highly education and very qualified. Women however, would take on the responsibilities of the family home; cooking and cleaning; looking after and educating their children. As far as decision-making would go women would take on this responsibility as they were the sole provider of care for the house and their children.

Structure B highlights integrated roles between men and women. Both men and women would be allowed to work and both would equally be educated and would take care of their home and their children. Decisions would be made together with neither gender dominating the other partner. This structure is, what I believe to be, the common structure of gender roles in our society. Why then do so many marriages end up in divorce? 

Lets travel back to the 1920’s where men and women joined together in holy matrimony very aware that a marriage signified their union as a couple, but highlighted their roles as individuals.

The role of a male and female in the 1920’s was exactly how Parsons describes it in Structure A Men would go to work and earn money to support their wives and children whereas women would stay at home. World War II saw a change in these gender roles however. With men away at war many women were allowed to take on employment roles. Yet when the war was over and many men returned from battle the majority of women were forced back into their original positions as homemaker. It was mainly only widowers that were allowed to regain their positions of employment in order to support themselves and their children.

In August, 1920 women were given the opportunity to vote. They were also allowed to work. This change in roles saw the beginning of an era in which traditional family structure adapted; men and women would start to become equal regardless of their gender.

Men and women still to this day do not have equal rights but there is a vast amount of equality between them in many countries. What I find difficult to comprehend is why marriages are less successful now that women are seen as equal to men? Before women’s equality took force marriage was a sacred act that would legally and emotionally (and by emotionally I mean that both men and women would actually attempt to stick with their marriage partner – adultery was less heard of in those days than it is today) bind a couple until ‘death do us part’

I don’t think I am saying that the change in gender roles is the reason why marriages don’t last or are even brought into the relationship equation, but I do think that such a change in gender roles is a factor as to why marriages don’t last as long now-a-days. I cannot help but feel that if gender roles, maybe not as extreme as the early 1900’s, were still in place today marriages would last a lot longer…but this thought does come from an up-bringing of black and white movies portraying segregated gender roles. Such movies implied that with segregated gender roles homes were happier; a man and women both new their place within their marriage and their lives were happy, not content, actually happy.

My research has been interesting and has, being honest, brought out the little traditionalist side of me that is kept hidden away and often over-looked…but in researching this topic it has brought to my attention that a change in gender roles does in fact highlight the lack of long-lasting marriages. In saying this I am now wondering what actually is a marriage?

Back to the research I go……..

P.S. I would love to hear your views on this topic. Comment away =D

Published in: on March 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Rattling nice pattern and excellent articles, practically nothing else we need :D.

  2. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

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