Gender Role

Many in religious conservative communities still see value in distinctive, but complementary roles for men and women - in both society broadly, and especially within families. One faith community, for instance, proclaims thatBy divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

This kind of language is typically framed as rigid and leading to negative consequences for women, and even for men. Religious conservatives insist that positive consequences ensue - including for women - and point out the nuance and context this overlooks in their position. For instance, that same faith community adds, “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

Progressive communities see gender roles as a relic of the past that are limiting to both men and women - and consider any such pre-defined model or ideal as an unnecessary constraint. They also point out that our understanding of gender roles is nested firmly in cultural, rather than religious, ideals.  For instance, in some cultures, women are the hunters and gatherers, while in conservative understandings of gender roles, women are more suited to caring for children and allowing the husband to provide for the needs of the family and home.  Progressives subsequently laud alternative roles and formations - including many that defy the conventional way of seeing male and female roles.

 

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