When men are described as strong, independent, brave, and tough. Women are described as submissive, sensitive, talkative, and maternal. Stereotype is defined by a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment (Merriam-Webster).There are many stereotypes to be held about gender roles and their impact on men and women. Even though biology determines sex, these stereotypical roles are learned norms for society.
There are many biological differences between male and female, and gender is viewed as a social position that affects one’s mental development. Gender roles are subject to change over time just as societies mental development changes with time, stated in Gender roles and gender role conflicts (Pearlstein). These stereotypes are faced by society every day, young children watch their parents and role models and are receptible to the actions seen. Claire Vaye Watkins portrays gender roles in her short stories, The Last Thing We Need and Wish You Were Here. The two short stories go hand in hand with both lead characters not meeting the standards’ society has in place for their genders.
When Wish You Were Here started, lead character, Marin and her husband live a happy life until they move to this adobe (101) town where satisfactory seems to subside and is described by Marin that she feels this little town tries too hard (101). The story goes on as the couple have conceived a child, this is the sight of gender roles shown in the story. Along with the growing child in Marin’s body comes the growing of arguments and tension between the couple, the story says Before the child is anything, it is a catalyst for fights.(102)
This is explained by Pearlstein, Researchers have found that the gender roles of married couples tend to become more clearly defined following the birth of a child. Often the woman assumes the primary responsibility for child care and the greater part of the housework. This is not what happens in Watkins story; although, readers are shown bits and pieces of Marin’s maternal instincts, Marin does not care much about eating healthy, exercising, or compromising on things to be shown to the child once in this world. Her husband, Carter, wants to know all the details about Marin’s action through the day and everything that could potentially affect their child. He is very involved, and took the maternal position in the story once the child, referred to as It(107), was born. He is a hand on a father who wanted a say so in his child’s life and the day to day variables affecting him. The story uses Carter taking this strong interest in his child as a way to tear down the stereotypical father who would be taking the role as bringing income for the family and allowing the mother to presume the responsibility of the children.
In the same way, the story shows Marin as a mom who does not take the maternal job as Pearlstein describes women’s roles often are.
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