We both know the reason you’re reading this. You’re reading this because you want to know why you need traditional gender roles, possibly wondering what they can do for you in the modern age. Your willingness to read this means you have an open mind and possess the ability to improve your life without caring about what other people think, say, or do. You understand that human history is relevant and important to your modern world.
Whether or not you believe in a creator or in macro-evolution, you know it’s important to take a close look at how those beliefs define your thinking. In most cases, the different beliefs will result in divergent ideas and opinions, but in rare cases rational thought will converge to a similar conclusion.
In the case of social gender roles, regardless of base beliefs, your thinking will and should come to one conclusion:
Traditional gender roles are not only natural, but necessary.
By now you’re asking yourself how the origin of man is related to gender roles. It’s easy to come up with the same tired idea that gender roles stem from the lifestyle of primitive man: males hunted and women raised children.
However, there is an hidden premise to this example. The premise is that men and women differentiated before their primitive history began.
Males excelled at hunting and similar tasks due to their specialized masculine traits. Females excelled at raising children due to their specialized feminine traits. And these traits were specialized quite some time before primitive man began to hunt, gather, or farm.
However this specialization came about, it is important to remember the following:
Our ancestors weren’t stupid. They took advantage of inherent sexual differences and specializations to increase their odds of survival.
These differences and specializations were a direct result of evolutionary processes, creative design, or a combination of both. We could discuss the why and how for each of these three cases, but the answer isn’t important. What’s important is this:
Sexual differences and specialization is superior to every other alternative.
Evolution favors organisms with superior means of survival and reproduction. If there had been a superior alternative to sexual dimorphism in humans, human sexual dimorphism would likely not have persisted to date.
Likewise, from a creationist point of view, and assuming the creator was not malicious, there would be no real reason for humans to possess an inferior means of survival and reproduction.
The conclusion is the same from both standpoints:
Sexual dimorphism is both natural and inherent to the human species.
There are very few people who would argue with this, and those few who would are not too bright. One only needs to look at a man and a woman side by side to understand that there are clear physical differences.
While our ancestors didn’t possess the advanced technology we do, they, like you, were not stupid.
Our ancestors took notice of the obvious sexual differences and took advantage of them because it was the smart thing to do.
The advantages to survival that sexual differences provided to the human race gave natural rise to gender roles. Males, as the more physically intimidating party automatically assumed positions of power and leadership. At the same time, they were more expendable than a female, meaning that males were the group that literally spent their lives protecting the physically weaker females.
In contrast, females were less able to handle more physically demanding tasks, but were more naturally inclined to tasks related to raising offspring and self-preservation. Because women could not compete with men on a level playing field as a physically weaker sex, women excelled at using psychological means to increase their chances of survival using tools such as persuasion, deception, empathy and sympathy (feigned or real), using emotion to their own advantage, and outright submission.
Gender roles rose straight from physical differences between sexes, to the advantage of both men and women.
These gender roles resulted from men and women playing to their own strengths.
Our ancestors understood that without traditional gender roles, they would not survive.
They would be wiped out naturally by a harsh environment, or they would be wiped out by a people that did use traditional gender roles. They understood that without traditional gender roles they would lose their wars, lose out economically, and lose out to the larger populations of groups who were more successful using traditional gender roles.
Traditional gender roles are far from obsolete. They are still the cutting edge.
Evolutionist or Creationist, what you tacitly admit is that humans either evolved or were designed with major physical differences that work to their own advantage.
It would be foolish to work against and ignore such a huge natural advantage. If you do work against it, you or your children will ultimately find themselves at a disadvantage.
By working against evolution, you are refusing to evolve, and you will soon not be fit enough to survive.
By working against the creator’s design, your purpose as a creation is broken, and you must fix it or you will not survive.
Our advanced technology has made it easier for men to become more like women, and for women to become more like men, but this has only been true for the last 100 years.
One hundred years is too short for evolution to reverse several million years of prior evolution.
And if you are a creationist, 100 years of evolution won’t change a thing.
The natural advantages of male and female sex differences have not changed. Traditional gender roles optimize those advantages.
It is still to your advantage to act like a feminine woman, and it is still to your advantage to act like a masculine man. Doing so will increase your ability to survive, both literally and economically, and will also increase your chances of reproduction.
Embodying conventional feminine traits is the best strategy for a woman who wants the best possible man and the most resources, and embodying conventional masculine traits is the best strategy for a man who wants the best possible woman and even more resources.
If you want to maximize your life, make more money and live to the fullest, then the only option available to you is to embrace traditional gender roles. If you don’t, the poor dodos and the penniless dinosaurs are waiting for you on the other side.
**This is the first installment of a several part series. The series will progress from early man to modern civilization, and draw conclusions about gender roles, society and culture. I will post links to each part in the series as they are completed.**
The recent shootings in France have sparked quite the discussion on multiple fronts, including the controversial subject of diversity and its effects on a nation. Ultimately, however, it’s not hard to determine what those effects are on such a large scale. When powerful men with powerful armies and powerful weapons discover their differences are not compatible with other powerful men with powerful armies and powerful weapons, there are only two courses of action left, and they both run parallel to the courses taken by two pre-pubescent brothers sharing a bedroom: either slug it out, or define strictly enforced territorial boundaries which if crossed will result in the first option.
In other words, different nationalities and cultures require their own countries where they can live by their own rules. This is done out of mutual respect for the foreign nation’s (1) ability to inflict great harm or kill many members of your native land, and (2) their desire to live in peace and within their own country. If either of these requirements are not met, then one country will inevitably invade the other, and the game will only end when the stipulations are again met through conquest. The conclusion therefore is that diversity results in violence.
But this is diversity on a giant scale. What happens when it occurs on a different, smaller scale? Within, for instance, business or entertainment? In business, diversity of thought is highly valued when creating new products. In entertainment, diversity of thought is valued for much the same reason as business, but on a more fundamental level since the entertainment industry thrives on one thing and one thing alone: story.
More specifically, most writers of fiction know, at least on a theoretical plane, that story itself is based in the resolution of conflict, but that conflict can only occur when there are opposing sides. The main character must be pitted against another character, entity, force, or unsolved problem or else the reader will lose interest. This is true throughout the entertainment industry. Movies and television must have conflict and the promise of resolution or viewers will not enjoy it. Poetry, too, has conflict, as do even the barest lyrics of popular song, and the best music always evokes some kind of emotion in the listener by relating itself to universal human difficulties. Even a simple news article or television exposé follows the pattern of story writing, albeit with a more rigidly defined and drier set of rules. As such, diversity is necessary for a good story simply because it naturally compels conflict, which in turn must be resolved. Resolution is the drug that keeps us reading and watching.
But zooming in too closely does not particularly help us or give us new insight into the effects of diversity, for we are dealing with stories rather than real life. In real life, we deal with sales, and whether or not something sells depends on what your target market is. For instance, this author at Tor.com writes an article with a specific target audience in mind, one which readily enjoys hearing about Disney’s apparent inability to provide true depictions of equality and diversity. The author asserts that Disney’s more recent princess movies, Tangled, Brave, and Frozen, all make the same “critical mistake.”
Where are all the periphery female characters in Tangled, Frozen, and Brave?
Look, we’ve got two main female characters in Tangled (Rapunzel and Mother Gothel), Brave (Merida and Elinor), and Frozen (Elsa and Anna). Tangled features brief, silent, and grave moments from Rapunzel’s true mother, and all of these films show the occasional peasant woman or palace worker. There are female rock trolls that look exactly like male rock trolls in Frozen, and the whole group basically function as a chorus anyhow. There’s a short cameo by a witch in Brave. And outside of these fleeting examples, every single character of note is male. All of them. Literally.
And yes, this is a problem in practically every movie we watch.
Everyone: let it be known. It’s a problem. No, it’s worse. It’s a mistake. Yet apparently this “critical mistake” did not prevent millions of kids (and adults) from liking the three movies. The reason for this is, shockingly, because the background characters are irrelevant. The story is not about the background characters. In a curiously twisted way, however, it is this same quality of irrelevance that draws the author’s attention and on which she pins her argument. I admit, the significance of this escaped me at first, but now I believe I understand.
It is because the author doesn’t actually want a story. The quotes below should shed some light on this.
For example, what if Merida had triplet sisters? They would have been young enough to keep out of the fight between their older sis and Queen Elinor, but it also would have meant that the people Merida felt closest to in her family weren’t all male. She could have had a strong relationship with her young sisters, which actually would have helped to soothe the entirely gendered aspects of the argument she and her mother are having throughout the film. What Queen Elinor really wants is for Merida to accept some responsibility in her life—but when the entire fight gets codified using terms like “ladylike” and “graceful,” Elinor seems like a parent who is disappointed at her daughter for not fitting into the stereotypical gender boxes. It weakens the whole narrative.
Do you see what I see? If not, here’s another one about Tangled:
So… how to counter these female leading ladies and make certain that boys will still find themselves represented into the tale? Surround them with bands of men, of course! When Rapunzel and Flynn leave her tower, they wind up at a tavern filed with a variety of surly guys who want to turn Flynn over to the crown and collect the reward on his head. Rapunzel sings them a song about following your dreams, and the haggard crew reveal that they all have softer sides. Later, they come to Flynn’s rescue so he can run back to his lady love. And the two accomplices to Flynn’s recent crime, stealing the lost princess’s tiara? Two burly twin brothers.
For Tangled’s part, it would have been pretty adorable if Pascal—or Maximus the war horse!—had been lady animals. Or even better, that band of gruff ruffians at the tavern? Women. Just, the whole lot of them. Why not? Or if Flynn had been pulling his heist with twin sisters. And I’m sure someone is saying “But if they were ladies, he would have flirted with them!” But you know, he could have just… not. He doesn’t have to be interested in every age-appropriate female with a pulse just because he’s a scamp.
You see, what if Merida in Brave had had triplet sisters instead of brothers? Just as the author says, it “would have meant that the people Merida felt closest to in her family weren’t all male. She could have had a strong relationship with her young sisters, which actually would have helped to soothe the entirely gendered aspects of the argument she and her mother are having throughout the film.” Meaning, that the mother-daughter conflict that is the essential basis for the story no longer exists. I mean, gee, if Merida had a better relationship with her mother, then she would have never had the witch turn her into a bear, and everything would have been sooo happy!
And in Tangled, what if the crowded tavern had been full of women instead of men? For one thing, the beautiful Rapunzel would not have been able to charm them at all, and would more likely have been met with icy indifference or cruelty by the lesser female beauties such a place would attract. The story may not have halted in its tracks with such a change, but the roles would most assuredly be reversed, with Flynn flirting his way out of a jam instead of Rapunzel, or else physically cowing the women. But then who would have dared save Flynn in the end? Probably not the women—their nature would not lend itself to such an act. Instead, the story would have ended with Flynn’s execution and Rapunzel back in the tower, ergo, no story at all. Nor would it be in Flynn’s nature to avoid totally seducing twin female accomplices, not to mention making for less than terrifying bad guys. Flynn is, above all, a scoundrel, who likes pretty women and probably isn’t intimidated by less than terrifying bad guys.
In other words, the author’s assertion that “It weakens the whole narrative” is not about the story’s narrative. she doesn’t care about the story. She doesn’t want story. What she wants is grey putrescence because real story subconsciously reminds her too much of the greatest story of all. And when she says “it weakens the whole narrative,” what she means is “the story is too strong.” For such a person as the author of the article, forward is backwards and backwards is forward, and a blunder is preferable to success.
Ultimately the fact remains that the peripheral characters are just that: peripheral. They do not make the story. Nor is their gender an issue for children watching the movies, whose focus will be almost solely on the main characters. The peripheral characters genders will not teach children that women matter less or women matter more. After all, when was the last time that a girl said she wanted to be the background character and not the heroine? When was the last time a boy said he wanted to be the nobody instead of the hero? It is only the twisted mind of a twisted adult who replaces success with blunders and prefers ugliness to beauty. If the author had her way, there would be no true diversity in these stories, effectively removing their status as stories. Each character would think and act the same, and telling such a tale would not be a story at all, but a monotonous and never-ending description without conflict and without resolution.
And that would be a hell to be pitied for anyone who had the misfortune of watching or reading it.