Gender roles in America
Gender roles in America doesn't exist so much so as a standard but as an idea, the idea of a woman to be submissive and for a man to be dominant, the idea that masculinity equates to dominance and strength while femininity equates to weak and fragileness. The idea that “behind every great man is a woman”because her only place must be behind the man and not next to him or in front of him. Throughout history, women have been depicted as nurturing and dependent on men while the men have always been seen as the breadwinner and the protector. In Jamaica Kincaid story Girl, The author uses hostile language to explore the relationship between a young girl and her mother. Through the use of her mother's sexist rhetoric and the commands given to her daughter Kincaid attacks traditional gender roles. The rhetoric utilized through the story towards the girl is sexist and demeaning. The language the mother uses with her daughter furthers push the gender roles placed in society and the expectation of woman.
Language is used to communicate, it is used to label and classify things and it is used to bring people together. However, In Jamaica Kincaid’s story girl, the mother does the exact opposite. Instead of connecting with her daughter and forming a relationship with her she pushes her daughter away and creates distance between the two. The name of the story is called girl and throughout the story the mother never referred to her daughter by her name. By calling the story girl and not giving the girl a name it takes away her identity and reduces her to a thing. In the story the mother tells the girl to “walk like a lady and not like a slut”. It is impossible to walk like a slut because there is no wrong or right way to walk. Everybody walks in their own way. In society words like “slut” and “hoe” are used to belittle women. These words seem to only apply to women, a man doesn't get called a slut for sleeping with women. For a man having sex is expected and glorified, while for a woman it is judged and criticized. For women, it is a walk of shame and for men it's a rites of passage. "how to behave in the presence of men" young girls are taught to be ashamed about how they grow into their bodies. They are taught to hide it from men. In schools, they are taught that the clothes they wear can be a "distraction" for boys and showing something as simple as a shoulder can be a violation. Girls are getting sent home from school because of sexist dress code rules while boys are still in class with their pants sagging.We live in a society where girls have to travel in groups at night or at a party. As girls we text each other when we get home safe and it does not occur to us that not all of our male friends have to do the same. Parents beg their daughters be careful, to be safe but tell their sons to go out and play.
However girls are not the only ones to fall a victim to these impossible gender roles and expectations. Toxic masculinity tells boys that showing emotions is weak, it tells boys that they should grow up and take no for an answer. Toxic masculinity defines manhood as"violence, sex, status and aggression". Little boys grow up thinking these ideas defines them as a man so when they grow up and become men they become men who can't process their emotions, take rejection and do acts of violence. For example, In Connecticut, a 16 year old girl named Maren Sanchez was brutally stabbed by 16 year old Christopher plaskon for saying no to his prom proposal. Young boys are told that they are entitled to a girl’s yes but a girl isn't entitled to say yes. Boys who aren't taught about rejection become grown men who don't know the meaning of no. Toxic masculinity also tells boys that having emotions and being vulnerable is a feminine trait, and to be a man is to carry yourself strong and unbreakable. Little boys grow up in a society where if they show emotion they will be deemed as weak and get bullied by their peers.