In the current day U.S., we live in a society and culture that discourages men and women from embracing healthy tendencies. Behaviors and characteristics that have traditionally been commonplace among women are now looked down upon, and women are shamed for wanting to take on the role of being a mother and a homemaker while maintaining their femininity. On the other hand, they are applauded for becoming career women, surrounding themselves with pets to fill an emotional void instead of having children, and ultimately casting off the traditions of the past because of their so-called oppressive nature. However, more and more evidence stacks up to suggest that this new role modernity has pushed women into is anything but fulfilling, and if anything, gender roles are ultimately the most beneficial in terms of ensuring not only stability within a society, but overall happiness as well.
Most forms of media nowadays portray women in forms where they have adopted masculine traits. The independent career woman who “doesn’t need a man” is praised for her strength and ability to do so. Not only is this alienating to men, especially when men and women should be working in conjunction with one another to balance out each other’s weaknesses and strengths, but it also does not pan out as it seems in movies and on social media. Studies have concluded that although opportunities and the financial well-being of women have gone up in the past several decades, this does not necessarily equate to an increase in quality of life, and women often find themselves overwhelmed as a result. By opting to take on the stress of both the male and female gender roles (sometimes mainly opting for the male role of providing), this naturally decreases one’s satisfaction with life. While women may think that they can have it all, the result is often that they end up choosing one thing over the other, even if it is to varying degrees. When the decision is to prioritize the career, the children get the short end of the stick. This is short sighted thinking; it puts the next generation at a disadvantage.
Women have the full potential to tend to the most basic, but essential, unit of society- the family. A successful nation cannot be built unless strong families exist. Women are indeed the ones who must cultivate the children of the nation, not only by way of body but mind. The best way to understand the gravity of child rearing is to look at it from the perspective of Republican Motherhood, an idea popular in the 19th century. The thought was that it is a woman’s duty to instill the nation’s values in the next generation to preserve the most essential pillars of civilization. As a precursor to this ideal, civic leader and “Founding Father” Benjamin Rush highlighted the importance of female education in connection to their duties as members of society and future mothers in the late 18th century:
“The state of property in America renders it necessary for the greatest part of our citizens to employ themselves in different occupations for the advancement of their fortunes. This cannot be done without the assistance of the female members of the community.”
“The influence of female education would be still more extensive and useful in domestic life. The obligations of gentlemen to qualify themselves by knowledge and industry to discharge the duties of benevolence would be increased by marriage; and the patriot–the hero–and the legislator would find the sweetest reward of their toils in the approbation and applause of their wives. Children would discover the marks of maternal prudence and wisdom in every station of life, for it has been remarked that there have been few great or good men who have not been blessed with wife and prudent mothers.”
Many women back then adopted this as a goal because it made them realize their unparalleled worth they have to society. Perhaps it would do modern day women well to end the egocentrism that is children hating and self-indulgence, and instead start thinking in these terms. Women have the potential to inspire within children a love for their own heritage, culture, and history; this is a priceless contribution to one’s nation.
This all being said, not all women will perfectly fit into these roles. The average woman, however, does to some degree gravitate toward these behaviors.The point is not to glorify a lifestyle that, on a larger scale, ushers in instability to the greater society if enough people adopt it. Because MOST women are in fact naturally suited for this duty, the nation should operate with this norm as a fundamental basis, since the family is the building block of society. Women are needed to fulfill this role because they are, by biology, the best suited for certain necessities in raising children. That alone places inherent value in the feminine nature. I’d say that is more empowering than anything feminism has to offer.
“‘Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.’ There is no fame in the world equal to this, nor is there a note in music half so delightful as the respectful language with which a grateful son or daughter perpetuates the memory of a sensible and affectionate mother.” -Benjamin Rush