Steamrolling Gender Roles

After years of hearing, “It’s Sadie’s this year,” since I was a freshman, it actually happened. This year’s winter formal was considered girls ask guys, reversing the social norm of boys asking the girls to be their date to school dances. This raised a question for me: does it actually matter who asks who to formal? To me, the answer is clearly no. It doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter. But, this question led me down a rabbit hole into a more deeper analysis of what gender roles mean to relationships.

Since I was little, I always remembered my mother telling me that I should let the boy I was going out with pay the check, drive us there, among other little things, because that’s what boys were meant to do. In order to be a gentleman, he had to be “chivalrous.”

I realized that men and women should be able to do these things simply out of politeness rather than societal norms that put pressure on men and women to act a certain way. Women are able to pay the check, drive, and open the door for her date. Ultimately, these acts of “chivalry” don’t make or break a relationship, so why should they be so important when forming a connection with another person?

“As long as you treat your partner with kindness, trust, and respect, in my opinion, that’s chivalry,” said senior Austin Ota, who just surpassed the sixth-month mark with his girlfriend senior Misato Shimizu.

I agree with Ota. Respect should be more important in a relationship, rather than who does what.

“Since I like driving more I am usually the one who drives us places. He pays most of the time, but I occasionally feel more comfortable paying for my own meals. I’m comfortable with what we have now in our relationship,” said Shimizu.

As a self-proclaimed feminist, I asked myself whether my beliefs would allow me to let gender roles be a part of a relationship. The answer, ultimately, is yes. I would let a boy pay for my meal, drive me home, among everything else. But, that doesn’t matter I shouldn’t have to do those things also.

It’s not about whether or not you let your date or significant other play into these roles. It’s about realizing that women can do these things too.

I most certainly can pay for my date’s meal or drive them home. My date can do the same for me, and that still makes me a feminist. I can have my own independence and be in a relationship where the guy pays for some of the meals.

“Since I personally don’t like depending on people for what I should be responsible for, being independent shouldn’t mess up your relationship,” Shimizu said.

I can only speak to my belief as someone who is straight. I don’t know what other people in other types of relationships think about gender roles. Do gender roles still matter?

“It depends on the relationship. I can’t exactly speak for all same-sex relationships, but I’m sure it’s not completely absent with all couples,” GSA President senior Maddie Tody said.

Tody then went on to say that the presence of gender roles in same-sex relationships is significantly lower “since the idea of ‘one person doing more than the other due to sex’ isn’t prevalent.”

Ultimately, gender roles don’t make a difference. A healthy relationship can be achieved without playing into them. Because what really matters is for more important than who opens the door.

Ota said, “I do follow some of the gender roles, but that’s not because I feel pressured to do so, or just because it’s expected from a male.

“I offer to pay for her meals and open doors for her because I genuinely like her and want her to be happy.”