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Traditional gender roles questioned in college

Women. Walking down West Pine one afternoon, I was trying to figure out my stance on women in the world. In full disclosure, it was not very easy for me, which is bizarre because I am a woman. I was very confused about why I could not form a solid belief on the status of women in the world. I then realized that this is because I have many different views on the matter.

I like to think of myself as a feminist. Equality among men and women, I’m all for it. I believe that women should receive equal pay as men. I believe that women should be granted the same opportunities as men, and I also believe that a woman should be able to serve as president of the United States. However, this is not how I was raised.

I was raised in an old-fashioned Catholic Irish household. My father is an “old country” Irishman and my mother is a first-generation Irish-American, daughter of Irish immigrants. In my house, both of my parents work, yet when my father gets home from work he still expects dinner to be on the table.

My mother makes my father’s lunch, she sets his alarm clock for him, she organizes the bills and she also buys his clothes. I grew up in a structure where the woman’s place is in the kitchen, even after she has put in an eight-hour workday, and the man serves as the protector of the household. If my mother were ever out of town or out late one night, then I would take her place in the kitchen.

I assumed this was how all families were run until I came to college and realized that not all fathers are totally dependent on their wives to help them survive. Since college, I have developed my view that women can be independent, strong and have a voice in society, which is why I am studying to become a journalist. However, this rationale is damaged when I return home to my traditionalist parents.

My mother instilled in me the notion that I need to get married and have a man provide for me in order to be happy in life. I am to cook and clean for him, but he will be the one bringing home the paycheck. I did not entertain the idea that a woman can be independent and self-sufficient until I began college. However, I am not ashamed to say that a portion of my observations of my parents have stuck with me.

Despite my feminist beliefs, the stigma of a woman’s role in society and in my household has had somewhat of an influence on me. After observing my parents for so many years, I have developed a traditionalist viewpoint on the subject of relationships.

I believe in chivalry. I believe that a man should ask a woman out on a date. I believe that a man should hold the door open for a woman. And I believe that a woman should not have to do heavy lifting if a man is available for the task.

Most men will never understand the slight fear that goes through a woman’s mind when she is walking alone at night, or have their friends tell them to watch their drink while at a bar. Women still have the stigma of being vulnerable and emotional creatures that need protected by men. This gender bias is taught to children beginning in pre-kindergarten.

I guess I would have to say my thoughts on the status of women are this: Women have come a long way in society. For example, women hold powerful positions as CEOs and senators, and internationally, women even serve as presidents. However, women are not yet equal to men, and I do not think that level of equality will be reached any time soon.

With that being said, and quoting the queen herself, Beyoncé, I do believe that girls can and will run the world.

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