When compared to the rest of the world the U. S. can be considered somewhat “liberal” in the way gender roles and sexuality are interpreted within its society. A hundred years ago maybe even just a few decades ago women in the U. S. were confined to limited roles at home and in the economy and lacked the civil liberties that they enjoy today. It was the advent of World War 2 and the creation of birth control that helped to liberalize women within the U. S. and helped them stand on equal footing as men.
This revolution for women unfortunately did not spread as popular sentiment to all countries. In places such as the Middle East, China and Africa even in certain parts of Eastern Europe and Russia women are still marginalized and worse yet are at times treated as nothing more than assets or objects. Since women and men enjoy similar roles within the U. S. it must be mentioned that the U. S. also happens to enjoy a sort of sexual liberalism wherein men and women are free to express themselves in any sexual manner that they want.
This has resulted in a diverse sexual orientation present within the country wherein heterosexual relationships coexist beside those of homosexuality, transvestism, transexualism and other such orientations. This is due to the freedoms given to them by the U. S. constitution however such liberalness is unfortunately also not present in other cultures. Within cultures such as that present with the Middle East, Africa, China and notably Japan a culture of conformity is present wherein those who do not conform are socially ostracized not only from society itself but at times from their very family and friends (Thorson-Smith 2010).
This paper seeks to explore the reasons behind the liberties enjoyed by women today in the U. S. , the different trends in sexual liberation as well as seeks to compare the state of gender roles and sexuality of the U. S. and that of other countries. Societal trends of equal status of men and women World War 2 Though it may not be immediately obvious World War 2 can be considered one of the tipping points wherein women were able to gain the liberties that they enjoy today. Before the war started most if not next to all forms of labor were considered a man’s world.
Women were rigidly placed into to roles such as being school teachers, nurses or secretaries without being given the chance to prove themselves in other forms of industry. It was when the war started that the men that worked in factories and other forms of industry men were drafted into wartime service. It was due to this sudden lack of labor and a shortage of income that women had to take up the jobs that were left behind in the factories or in other industries in order to support their families and support the war effort. It was the arrival of women to labor force that changed the face gender roles within the U.
S. Due to their new status as the driving force behind America’s economy women felt empowered by their new roles as providers for their families. After the war was over and the men tried to get their old jobs back they found that the women now on possession of them refused to go back to their old roles and give up their new jobs. As a result this was the start of an era of equal opportunities for both genders in the workplace (Schultz 2010). When women were introduced to the work force the resulting consequences were that they started marrying earlier on in life in order to concentrate on their work.
They relied less and less on their husbands after the end of the war and as a result the rate of divorce in the U. S. climbed to unprecedented levels and gave rise to the term “single mother”. This was due to their belief that women could live by themselves without the need for a husband (Schultz 2010). Advent of the Pill With the creation of the contraceptive pill women became more empowered to chose when they could have children and who they could have it with while enjoying the benefits of having worry free sex with their partners (Fine 2007).
This resulted in women being able to pursue more advanced professional careers since child rearing could come at a more convenient time for the woman’s career. Not only that but as a result of this women delved into their sexuality more and more resulting in the development of a sexual culture wherein sex is was no longer discussed nor done behind locked doors and whispered conversations rather it was freely mentioned and became a popular topic (Fine 2007). Working household It was only in the past few decades that the concept of both parents working became the norm rather than the exception.
It was usually the case in the early 1900’s and well before that men were the providers of the household bringing in money while women stayed at home to fix meals, take care of the kids and make sure the house is in order. With the advent of the Great Depression in the U. S. as well as the subsequent changes in the economy the need for both parents to work became more and more of a necessity (Schultz 2010). Combine this with the arrival of women to the workforce due to World War 2 the result being women were begrudgingly allowed by their husbands to work for the sake of having enough income for the family
Comparison to other Cultures Though women in the U. S. currently enjoy a nearly equal status as men in the workforce women in other countries are not as fortunate. In the Middle East especially in countries like Saudi Arabia the concept of women working is still an alien one. There women are expected to conform to the traditions of having to keep their faces covered and to stay within the confines of their homes (Scott 2010). Though this attitude may be changing due to the recent economic downturns which have forced people to change their views in order to survive there is still a certain level of discrimination.
Women in countries such as Africa, Russia, Japan and the Middle East are all too often relegated to lesser roles while the men take the more preeminent ones despite assurances of sexual equality in the workforce by these countries (Scott 2010). Not only that but sexual liberalism in the Middle East is frowned upon, even resulting in violence due to strict cultural boundaries placed on women there. Sexual Liberalism in the U. S. Sexuality in the U. S. is among the most liberal in the world with the topic of sex being almost common place.
Popular media has promoted a view wherein sexual liberalism is a perfectly natural thing to do and as such should be encouraged (Fine 2007). The result is the near obsession of the population with sex with different products promoting virility in bed, women and men alike undergoing plastic surgery in order to look more sexually appealing and finally the obsession with the idea of beauty of making sure you look thin and athletic (Fine 2007). This has resulted in a culture that values aesthetics over that of mentality and attitude.
It is this culture of sexual liberty that has given rise to numerous groups practicing homosexuality, transvestism, transexualism and other forms of sexual liberation (Zerilli 2010). Though still somewhat frowned upon by society these groups are still begrudgingly allowed to do as they please since it is their right to do so (Zerilli 2010). Comparison with other countries. Comparing the case of the U. S. with that of conservative Middle East and Japan it is obvious that there is a great divergence in the sexual liberation granted to its citizens. Japan can be considered a sexually liberated country only behind closed doors.
This is due to the fact that overt displays of public affection or sexuality are usually frowned upon by general society and the Japanese cultural attitude of conformity to the ways of the general public enforces this. Compared to the U. S. where overt forms of physical intimacy and affection are common place shows the just how different the U. S. is from the Japan. When talking about public displays of affection no where is this more frowned upon than the Middle East. Due to their cultural traditions of inhibiting sexual behavior public displays of affection there are not only frowned upon but can result in jail terms and stoning.
Conclusion The gender roles and views on sexuality in the U. S. are definitely different than those of some countries. The creation of single mothers, women in the workplace and sexual liberalism are all concepts which started in the U. S. and are only now slowly being integrated into other societies. As such it can be said that those living within the U. S. , especially women, are lucky to be able to enjoy an environment of freedom that so many other people are unable to enjoy themselves.