Being a woman or being a man used to mean that you had a certain code of behavior that you had to follow especially when interacting with the other sex. It meant that you had a particular set of responsibilities, a list of DOs & DON’Ts and that your lifestyle had to reflect those ‘rules of engagement’. This is what we call gender roles. Men had to be this way and women had to be that way.
Of course, the gender roles would vary across different cultures and across different generations. But within every generation they were quite clearly laid out.
Today, in western industrialized societies, gender roles are still present but they are far less pronounced and people are generally free to decide for themselves what code of behavior they will follow.
But some gender codes remain with us and are unlikely to change anytime soon - particularly those that have an evolutionary background. For women, physical beauty is and probably always will be a deciding factor in her social status. Likewise, for men, their social status is highly dependent on their performance of useful tasks. In short, a woman’s status is heavily dependent on her beauty and a man’s status is heavily dependent on his productivity. And no amount of campaigning or awareness-raising will change these things. But that doesn’t mean you have to live by those rules yourself nor does it mean that you need to let them affect you though it is hard to ignore them entirely.
Reversing Gender Roles
First of all, I love the idea of gender role reversal. It appealed to me since I was a child and wanted to play the “boys games” and had no interest in dolls. And that’s enough about me already. Let’s talk about why I think gender role reversal can be a great thing for anyone and the possible down side for going down that road. Firstly, monotonous traditional lifestyles are, well, kind of boring and uninteresting. It’s hard to imagine a more dull society than one in which everybody follows the same lifestyle. I mean, even if you love your ascribed gender role, surely you would want to try alternatives once in a while. Diversity rules and makes everything better because young people can learn from different views and lifestyles about gender roles and they can incorporate various elements into their own lives. Today, you can choose what kind of gender role you want to play - well mostly. The down side is that, if you have a less common way of life, then you might have a harder time finding somebody with a lifestyle that matches yours. One of the problems in the modern dating world stems particularly from a lack of clear rules of engagement. So dating is a lot more complicated - but that also makes it more exciting because there is much more diversity of dating partners.
Women taking up men’s roles
there are more female breadwinners than ever and the percentage is growing.
Women are averagely better educated and better qualified than men so this trend
will continue and perhaps accelerate. Regardless of what you want, the female
breadwinner is clearly something that’s becoming normal and practical for both
men and women. After all, if you’re on the higher paying career path, then it
only makes sense to be the one who makes her job a priority. So female productivity is sharply on the rise. But you have to wonder, with regard to what I said about men being defined by their productivity, what the implications might be for men. Or imagine things the other way round, if men were to become more and more physically 'beautiful' such that their beauty surpasses that of women (how society perceives it) in many cases, how might that affect women? I'll have to leave that for another article.
It goes without saying that the traditional female gender role is left only for those who really want it. Personally that way of life isn’t for me but that doesn’t make it wrong or bad. Having the freedom of choice between female or male gender roles or any mix between the two is one of the advantages of being a woman in today’s times. But be careful of one thing: That freedom of choice gradually disappears as you get older.
Men taking up women’s roles
More and more men are beginning to see that the traditional male gender role isn’t desirable for everyone. They are realizing that they could have a more fulfilled life if they’d free themselves of the pressure to fit in the gender roles that others impose on them. Of course, this is not for everyone, but I do think everyone should give it serious thought at some point in their lives. Otherwise how can you be sure you’re not missing out on a lot that life has to offer you?
Gender roles are overrated anyway
What we call gender roles, are mostly determined by simple pragmatism of past generations carried over for little other than traditional reasons - a kind of archaic leftover. There is nothing inherently “right” or “good” about living one gender role as opposed to any other. So for us this means we can choose our own lifestyle or gender role and we don’t have to and shouldn’t make our biological sex an issue in that choice.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
tom on June 28, 2019:
I was a stay at home dad and my wife was the prime earner. I am big and strong and tough and manly and she is small and smart and rules. I act like a manly man and she acts like a woman but the roles are reversed in so many ways. She dominates me or has and has had me accept her doing things to prove my submission and i know how she trained me to submit
Katie on May 07, 2019:
We are living a role reversal, FLR lifestyle. I even had my name legally changed to Katie last July.
Looking forward to reading from your blog.
Dionn on September 09, 2018:
This is a wonderful blog with a very interesting topic. I believe that many men are heterosexual and would like to play a feminine role next to a woman with more masculine traits. It seems a no-go zone for women to talk or think about and a kind of embarrassment for men to admit. That's why so many people choose the dark-side of pornography where they channel their real desires while they maintain their privacy. It seems that FLR, cuckolding or other forms of female dominance or role reversal still alternative lifestyles mostly are promoted, initiated and encouraged by males.
ALWJ on November 08, 2017:
Lucy83 ive read 3 of you articles and you're awesome. Im not really into 100% role reversal. I still want to be the bread winner with my future family but its just nis to see a woman (not trying to be sexist) with an open mind when it comes to this. I never see that where i live. Your awesome
Marty on July 22, 2017:
Looking for a women who loves to feminize a man.Breasts in cluded .
Carl on March 22, 2017:
I think men taking up women's roles is fine. But remember, Women are now the productive bread-winners in our society. Once we start down the road of role reversal, women will ultimately control the standards of society, and steer us toward Matriarchy. This would be a welcome change, but men must become accustomed to total female authority, female role models, and domestication.
Lucy83 (author) on May 01, 2013:
thanks for sharing your interesting experiences.
Doug on May 01, 2013:
I am mix gendered. Many years ago I was in a relationship with a man and I really enjoyed expressing my soft, nurturing side. I allowed him to take the lead in the relationship, and since he happened to be working and I wasn't at the time, I happily took on all the cooking and housework and doing little things for him to help him have a good day.
I often wore women's clothes and was open about our relationship and our roles in it. I loved it when he took charge in the bedroom and I would make a point of making myself attractive to him.
I had several women friends who accepted me as one of them and we would share the joys and frustrations of living with our boyfriends.
Unfortunately, the relationship didn't last. He had some issues that made me realize I needed to get out, plus he started wanting a more masculine guy.
I know some feminists would criticize me for acting out an oppressive stenotype of women, but that was what worked for me and Everyone should have the freedom to be who they want to be.
Now that I am married to a woman, I feel that this experience has made me a much better spouse. I am not locked into a pre-conceived gender role, and my spouse and I don't worry about it. Our roles are fluid depending on mood and situation and we are each free to be as masculine or feminine as we care to be at any given moment.
Divya from India on January 18, 2012:
Yes, I change my role reversal as male. Snd my spouse is revert to my wife
Steve on December 05, 2011:
A very though provoking article. Thank you!
I identify as a bi-gender or two-spirited person, although those labels mean different things to different people. I'm a GM, genetic male, who presents to the world with mixed gender clothing and jewelry. I wear no makeup but have grown my hair long.
I want to known for my talents as a human, and for breaking out of the stereo types of male behavior. I have a feminine side and I let that mix with my masculinity. To suppress one side or the other is not healthy for me.
I'm not trying to be a woman, I'm trying to be myself.
Lucy83 (author) on October 30, 2011:
thanks for your feedback. I suggest you read a book about evolution because my impression is that you have the wrong idea about it.
Anda on October 23, 2011:
I believe you are a great writter, and I like the beginning of your essay!, but I am soory, I do not think that we came from evolution. We are to wonderful to be created from a BIG BANG???
Just like it's pretty Impossible to happen for a house to be built without the help of nobody, and yet have windowsills,heating, AC, and everything!!! I believe in DESIGN!!
Then, I think that men should men and women should be women. THis whole-gender reinvention creates a bunch of chaos. That's why a lot of teenagers struggle with their identity!
Sure, everyone has the right, and I do not oppose to that, but my opinion is still different then yours.
Lucy83 (author) on October 01, 2011:
well I hope you don't think being female means being told to do the housework by your partner.
Bobby on September 28, 2011:
I have already took on the female role 24/7 and my wife dresses more manly now, but I have had to give up watching sports on Tv and the late nights out with guys. My SO says I have to stay home and clean the house, laundry and the cooking of the meals everyday.
I do feel the whole effect of being the female now and sometimes wish I was the man of the house still. But the choice is made now and I must live it out.
Daniel on September 12, 2011:
I fully agreed with your gender role reversal.
Our office have mostly the woman in top management position of authority while most of the male works as laborer, truck drivers, production and lower manual work.
After work, you will see most of the female staff gether drinking wine and net working while most of the man will head home.
True Patriot on June 19, 2011:
Gender roles are TOTALLY against everything that America stands for! The Declaration of Independence gives everyone the rights to life, liberty (i.e.: a woman can get a job in the construction industry), and the pursuit of happiness (i.e.: a man can be happy in a skirt and heels)! Therefore, those who support gender roles are un - patriotic and un - American! This is NOT Communist Russia, this is the UNITED STATES!!
sissychuck44 on April 03, 2011:
I couldn't agree more with you. If i could get away with wearing women's clothes all day long...or 24/7, I would definitely do just that. I love the variety of styles, the choices that are offered and the femininity of it all. to me the ideal situation would be a role reversal for both parties involved. I would love to take on the more traditional female role and have the female in my relationship take on the more male role.
threesweds on April 01, 2011:
Good hub Lucy. I totally agree with your perspective on gender roles. It is great to experiment in another role. As a male, I have experienced only a small part of the female role and throughly enjoyed it, especially with women in a dominating role.