“The Stigmatization of Gender Role Abandonment” by Ryan Turner

Gender roles are socially acceptable behavior that are based on one’s sex.  Depending on the society in which one lives, certain occupations, hobbies, and roles are acceptable for males, while others remain “off limits”.  The same holds true for females.  Throughout history, however, – and most recently in the past half century – social tensions that have held women back from performing traditional male roles (e.g. company CEO, business manager, primary breadwinner, etc.) have been dramatically loosened.

Today’s society currently views occupations customarily reserved for men as completely open to women.  However, there remains a certain degree of stigma attached to men that take on traditional women roles, such as a hospital nurse or a stay-at-home parent.  This principle is starkly found in the film, Meet the Parents.  In the short clip below, a certain man named Greg meets the family of his fiancee.  When asked his line of occupation, he answers, “Nursing.”  After hysterically laughing at what seemed a smart joke, the family quickly realizes that Greg was not fooling around.  Before their eyes stood a genuine male nurse.

One of the explanations why men and women work in the careers that they do is because of their social acceptation in society.  In other words, culture largely shapes the sexual division of labor.  Women commonly stay at home while men leave the house for work at the office.  However, in the film, Meet the Parents, the opposite occurs.  Instead of becoming a medical doctor, Greg breached his traditional gender role and became a nurse.  Gender roles are a central part of every society around the world.  To abide by them is to live comfortably and free of stigma, while to challenge them is to invite social rejection and awkward stares from all sides.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baSyYyqV2X0&feature=related 0:00 – 0:54 – “Laughing at Nursing” (Meet the Parents)

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