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If you ask someone from the early 50’s to compare the gender roles from the past with the gender roles today, they would probably come up with a lot of differences, which is because a lot has changed since then. During the early 50’s, gender roles were simpler, men goes to work and women stays at home. Today, both genders are equal when it comes to their own rights and choices. In the essay “The Men We Carry in Our Minds”, by Scott Russell Sanders, he discusses his own view on the gender roles.
Sanders grew up in a lower class environment where men worked hard and labored with their bodies. He states that “The bodies of the men I knew were twisted and maimed” (p.1). He also states how men worked hard and physically suffered from all the responsibilities that had to be done for their families. On the other hand, Sanders shares his view on how women lived easier lives than the men he grew up with.
Sanders view on gender roles is completely based on his own experiences.
He clearly shows support and sympathy towards men because he had witness the hard work his own father had to go through just to be able to give his family a better life. Sanders father worked his way out of being a laborer to a white-collar worker. This shaped his perspective that men are progressive and women will always have the same responsibilities, which is to take care of the household.
I would say that my view on gender role is different from Sanders. I grew up in an environment similar to Sanders, where the lack of opportunity forced men to explore different possibilities in life. When I was young, my parents got divorced, so my mother had to raise me and my siblings single handedly. Although my father supported us financially, I never really saw how hard he worked, or the kind of work that he had. Being raised by my mother gave me a different perception on gender roles. In the environment I grew up in, women can chose to work if they wish to.
My mother had a job when she was raising us, and she would leave the responsibility to my older sister while she was at work. My brother and I would do some household chores including chores that often women are expected to do like laundry, dishes, and even cooking. Because I have a brother and a sister, my mother taught us how to treat each other equally regardless of our gender. Later on, Sanders will find out that the women, whom he studied with, in college, were not so different from him because they too, needed to hold such position, which they found difficult to achieve because of the assumption that men are more powerful than women. In his essay, Sanders divided men he knew into three categories which are laborers, soldiers, and bosses. He describes the men he grew with as hard working men, who were physically worn out from working all day and night. “They got up before light, worked all day long whatever the weather, and when they came home at night they looked as though somebody had been whipping them”(p2). The men I grew up with were kind of similar from Sanders’.
When I was young I used to spend the summer with my grandparents in the Philippines. My grandparents owned a rice mill in a province where mostly men and women were farmers. Every time I was brought to the mill, I remember seeing men unloading hundreds of sack of rice out of the truck, and farmers planting rice seeds manually piece by piece with their hands. I did not realize how hard their job was because I was too young to understand the kind of work and responsibility they had. Every time I had dinner with my grandparents, I would get scolded whenever I left even a single grain of rice on my plate because they would remind me that every grain of rice comes from blood, sweat, and tears of their hard working men. The second kind of men Sanders mentions are Soldiers. According to him, soldiers were men “who did not sweat and break down like mules” (p.2). Sanders also added that soldiers were lazy, never worked, and bored.
Despite Sanders view on soldiers, he knew that when their time comes, they would be ready to kill and die for their country. “This was what soldiers were for, just as a hammer was for driving nails” (p.2). I disagree with Sanders view on soldiers, because I believe that soldiers have greater purpose other than to kill and die for their country. In the country where I grew up in, soldiers play a big role in the society. For example, whenever there’s a disaster or calamity, soldiers are responsible of making sure that the citizens are safe and that they are prepared for any critical situations. The third kind of men Sanders mentions are men who give orders.
Having seen the life of the men he grew up with limited his views on the possibilities of a better future for himself. Sanders states that men were destined to become laborers and soldier. However, Sanders view changed when he was fortunate enough get a scholarship that enabled him to attend college and meet women who shared a different perspective towards men. Sanders saw a different kind of men beyond his expectations, men who were greedy and powerful. Sanders views on women completely changed when he went to college.
He found out the men and women share common struggles in life. He thinks of men as the decision maker and women as the follower. But as the society changes, the equality between men and women are given more importance. I do not completely agree about what Sanders says that women had it easier, but I do believe that men are naturally born to show women more respect and accommodation. In the end, men and women are equal human beings that have the same abilities and opportunities in life.
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