Contemporary society has been faced with a number of cultural myths whose basis is clearly explicated in various literature books. They offer ideologies that lead individuals to reexamine their prior conceptions about particular matters. Furthermore, young learners end up being confronted by situations that require them to defend their perceptions regarding these myths. For instance, the gender myth has been existence for a very long duration. People are struggling as they try to understand whether there are specific behaviors and attitudes that a particular gender ought to possess. Initially, women used to depend on their families and husbands in order to sustain themselves, but the advent of modernism has changed all that, and now it is possible for individuals to exist independently. In the book Rereading America, Gary Colombo begins by defining critical thinking and how it is utilized to rethink obsolete social conventions especially those that pertain to the gender myth. It is apparent that the latter is actually one of the most intricate myths which determine how people behave in the modern world.
In Chapter 4 of Rereading America, Colombo clearly elaborates how gender was perceived initially; especially when relating to women and also the extent to which this edifice has progressed. The most predominant gender role is the maternal utility which happens to be irrevocable despite current advancements in the society (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 376). Besides, technological advancements have had a significant effect in redefining sexual roles and it has played a key role in obliterating retrogressive sensitivities based on gender (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 393). Take, for instance, the situation whereby in the 19th century the number of women working in formal employment was very minimal. In the current world, the situation has changed and there are almost as many women as men who are employed in formal capacities. Besides, currently, there are many fathers who have embraced the role of staying at home as they take care of the children, which is a role that has for long been known to belong to women. In this case, it is highly unlikely that such a behavior could have been encouraged in the past.
While trying to comprehend the equality of sexes in the American society, it is evident that most of the successful women are barely at home as the situation was in the past. Instead, most of them are busy at work and in most cases arrive late. The modern lady is a career woman and not the traditional lady who used to stay at home preparing meals and doing household duties (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 376). Colombo defines the idea of a "superwoman" as one who can be able to keep up with the traditional gender roles and their career, and still end up being successful.
There is no doubt that culture plays a significant role in educating individuals on the gender myth, however, it differs from some contemporary notions. It is apparent that gender myths have the effect of misleading people in the modern world. Conventional opinions held by individuals have the tendency to misguide others. Owing to this, Colombo is very emphatic on critical thinking as a way of getting to comprehend all the cultural myths that people come across. He further advises his readers by stating, "learn to look beyond these cultural myths" (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 3). By positing this, he does not necessarily mean that the other alternative is always right, rather, it is important for people to clearly comprehend the initial roles before advocating for those that they have no idea about.
The gender myth is also responsible for establishing various ideas regarding how both male and female genders ought to behave. It has been proven that the "female and male behaviors are a result of socially directed hormonal directions" (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 394). For instance, the common perception that men are naturally competitive and aggressive and that women are receptive and passive have been held by many to be true. It is, nevertheless, evident that this is just a gender myth since either of the genders can embrace attributes thought to be demonstrated only by the opposite gender. It is obvious that the society has been encumbered by theories that go beyond the ordinary human behaviors that have been in existence in previous generations.
According to Devor (382), the society established gender defined responsibilities and behaviors. This cannot essentially be true since the author fails to consider the fact that gender roles between men and women are the ones that actually fashioned the current society. While considering early human life, the roles taken up by the two genders culminated into the behavior currently observable in the contemporary society. For example, the men were forced to cater to the needs of their family leading them to go into the jungle, hunting and gathering fruits. This behavior could be what caused them to become aggressive (Kincaid 531). Conversely, women had to stay back home doing some unadventurous duties thus adopting the trait of passiveness clearly observable in most of them.
With the current rate at which the society is advancing owing to the emerging technologies, it imprudent for the young generation to dispute gender norms previously existent without having a substantial basis for doing so. These cultures were existent way before they came into this world, and also managed to govern the way human entities coexisted. In recent times, gender myths have had negative effects, and are in most cases responsible for the squabbles among people in the current society, as they grapple with understanding the behaviors that each of them ought to portray. This has occurred especially where the women tend to perceive some responsibilities as having been outdated. According to these critics, the modern lady should not be expected to conform to socially perceived rules. They, therefore, feel independent to do as they please. This being the case, the conflict has been inevitable as people try to determine what they should do or not do.
The gender myth has indeed had significant implications on the society. Children get to acquire behaviors and traits of those who surround them (Devor 394). In the previous generations, the woman used to stay at home and take care of the children. In addition to this, she also did household chores such as cleaning and cooking. The man, on the other hand, went to work and came back later. In view of this, the children regarded their father as the provider of the household. This idea has been distorted by the gender myth whereby, individuals in the contemporary society are more inclined to role reversal. The latter depicts a situation where one gender takes up the duties of the other. These same attributes are also being adopted by the children as they grow up. In this case, there is a high likelihood that the previously assumed gender roles will be fade away with time.
Weeping and crying has for long associated with women in the society. Boys are, therefore, taught from an early age not to display emotions of such nature (Orenstein 448). Concurrently, initially, women used to be battered by their husbands and that appeared to be a normal occurrence compared to the situation currently where such a habit is considered to be a punishable offense. This depicts the manner in which the gender myth has changed people`s way of life. On one hand, this is great advancement but in some instances, there may be some implications that are likely to result from this. For example, there is no doubt that currently, women are less submissive and obedient to their husbands than they used to be initially. Besides, advocacy for the empowerment of the girl child has been advanced to an extent such that the society will in the near future by crying out for the boy child to be protected. One belief that exists is that "social changes which bring nearer to the same level the father and son...will raise woman" (Colombo, Robert & Bonnie 377). It is, however, ostensible that detrimental consequences are likely to emerge once the society has fully embraced various ideologies being advocated for.
It is apparent as illustrated in the above examples that the gender myth is one of the most elaborate myths which determines how people behave in the modern world. The ancient society held some gender-defined roles which were used to distinguish between the men and women. In the 19th century, former individuals used to go to work while the former stayed at home looking after the children. Currently, both genders are involved in formal employment. Previous conceptions about what the woman ought to do have been labeled obsolete and in most cases, people choose to follow what others are doing in the society. Colombo, however, advises his readers to seek critical thinking in order to avoid misconceiving the whole idea of the gender myth. There are also some effects emanating from the gender myth, for example, women end up misunderstanding their roles and are, therefore, not obliged to perform their roles. Besides, one of the implications resulting from the myth involves the idea that young people end up adopting the behaviors that they observe, and therefore, it is highly likely that the current notions may end becoming permanent. In the end, the formerly recognized roles for both genders may just end up being an optical illusion.
Colombo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Rereading America: Cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing. Macmillan Higher Education, 2016.
Devor, Holly. "Becoming members of society: Learning the social meanings of gender." Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality (2013).
Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." Rereading America; Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. By Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle. 8th ed. Boston/New York. Bedford/St. Martin 2010. 527-535.
Orenstein, Peggy. "Just Between You, Me, and My 622 BFFs." Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 9th ed. Ed. Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford, 2013. 446-453.
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