Essay about Gender Roles

Submitted By thepiedpiper831
Words: 757
Pages: 4

Trevor Cleworth
Prof. Roberts
Sociology 1
The Man The manly man, the American soldier; outfitted in Camo, wielding battle rifle, a KABar strapped to their side. Man or woman, what do you picture? I picture a man. I get the image that we have many of us have come to know as a man in American culture. The man that is a brute, the man that doesn’t back down - the man that fights for his country. But what about the women? In this day and age it is shocking that women were not allowed to fight on the battlefield until very recently. In her article, “Women in Combat: Is it Really That Big of a Deal”, author Darlene M Irska addresses the recent decision by Leon Panetta to allow women in combat. Irska is a veteran U.S. military diver, a position that at one time only men were allowed to hold. Irska presents her article from the viewpoint that if women can perform the same tasks as men at the same rate, why should they be barred from the same activities. Irska does a good job of describing her experiences but fails to provide a sociological background as to why this might be. I can think of a few factors. First, the culture of America, which has greatly enforced masculine values, has kept women off the battlefield. We are a culture that prides itself on masculine/feminine norms and some sects of society aim to keep it that way. Secondly, there is the nature/ nurture debate. Aren’t women biologically weaker than men? Then surely they couldn’t perform the same tasks as men with the same level of skill! Another sociological factor I can attribute this situation to is the idea of social norms. The norm of society in America is that women are girly, they like make-up, and stuff like that. You don’t belong on the battlefield, woman, you belong in the kitchen or gossiping with your girlfriends! Why don’t you just go be a good normal girl and do that! Irska’s experience in military training presents the example of punishment for stepping outside societal norms. Irska asserts that she was not given any leeway in training and was in fact given a harder time than the men. The combination of the overarching culture of America, along with the biological nature/nurture debate and the enforcement of social norms has kept women off the battlefield regardless of if they are qualified. In American culture it is a fact that men do not like to be shown up by women. Being show up by a woman, especially physically, is one of the greatest defeats to a man in America. So how could men in their right mind let women on the battlefield and compete with them even if they can perform all the same tasks at the same level. It’s not