Gender Roles: What Part Do You Play?
Over the last few decades, our ideas about traditional gender roles and the role women should play in relationships has evolved. Today, female breadwinners are becoming a part of the norm, and women attend and graduate from college more than men. Despite these accomplishments, a new study from Refinery29 shows that 70 percent of millennial women feel their individual rights and liberties are being threatened right now; yet, only half of millennial women identify as feminists. While we know the evolution of women's rights is a a direct result of the civil rights and feminist movement, the role women see themselves playing in relationships is still constantly changing.
A couple weeks ago, I was at a going away happy hour with a group of friends and we started started talking about relationships and gender roles. The group consisted of both men and women and the question, "Why do black women give men such a hard time when they don't have to?" was posed.
As we got deeper into the discussion, there was a recurring theme among the group: Black women are used to doing for themselves.
Beginning at birth, black women are taught to be self sufficient and independent. We're also taught to carry relationships, families and entire communities on our backs. In my experience, when black women are in relationships, we have to make adjustments to compromise and be vulnerable with our partners. By being taught to be completely independent , typically in relationships, we want to be seen as a decision maker without the added pressures to have to play a specific, traditionally female role in the relationship.
As our discussion began to wind down, we came to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer. It can be difficult at times because a lot of us were taught traditional, relationship values. Men are supposed to lead the the household and women are in a supportive role, taking care of the home. We know that relationships work best when people figure out what role they will play in the partnership. Black women want to make rules with their partners about what role each should play by recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of one another and create a healthy and balanced partnership. As a single woman, there are certain things that I hate doing but I have no choice in doing. I'd love to have someone deal with car maintenance, taking out the trash, or fixing things around the house, but, the ability to do or not do, should be decisions that partners make together.
Gender roles aside, your significant other should be your source of peace. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where women can make decisions about what role they want to play in their relationship. Playing to one another's strengths will yield better results in your partnership.