Discuss how rigid gender expectations from society may become oppressive

Question 2: Discuss the way in which rigid gender expectations from society may become oppressive for both men and women. Provide documented examples to illustrate your points.

Sex and gender are different entities. Sex is the biological or hormonal aspects of life with which people are born. On the other hand, gender is the social role the culture assigns to women and men within society. Masculinity and femininity can change over time, depending on the cultural changes within a society. Although gender disparities have reduced in Canada over the years, more progress is needed for this society to achieve the potential for men and women. The Canadian society has to embrace changes because rigid gender expectations not only oppress women but also men, making them less productive.

The 19th and 20th centuries were periods of tremendous changes in the traditional understanding of gender. Men had been favored in many fields while women’s role was to sever the men and take care of children. Women’s discrimination in society led to the emergence of feminist movements, which sought to empower the women. Although the feminist movements were well intended, they created the perception that rigid gender roles only oppress women. On the contrary, research and observation indicate that both genders experience a form of oppression (Szmukler, Daw, & Callard, 2014). Despite the progress made in terms of legislations, the Canadian society still harbors rigid gender roles concerning families, employment, and family among other fronts.

Masculinity and femininity do not have the same value when taken in the traditional rigid context. For example, men are expected to show masculinity by being strong sexually, assertive, unemotional, protective and aggressive. On the other hand, women should be soft and supportive to their male counterparts. They are also expected to be more emotional and constantly in need of protection. According to Connell (2014), when the two genders are compared, the society esteems the roles assigned to men than those assigned to women. In other words, men get better rewards for masculinity than what women do for femininity. For example, high paying careers are preserved for men because of their aggressiveness and strength, which society molds, while women are expected for less attractive jobs.

Rigid gender expectations define the growth, life, marriage and career patterns of the boys and girls. In Canada, a parent can predict some of the future behavior patterns for both girls and boys. Mackelprang & Salsgiver (2016) note that the gender patterns for boys include higher chances to commit suicide, remarrying after divorce, lose custody of children after divorce, and being victims and perpetrators of violence. Men are prone to violence than women because of their quest to ‘prove’ their masculinity. They become aggressive and irrational, in many instances, against both men and women. According to Bell, Michalec, & Arenson, (2014), men were three times more likely to be murdered than women were in 2008. Threats towards men from fellow men and the security agencies comes from the gender expectations of masculinity.

Suicide rates among men of all ages are high compared to those of women. According to studies, men who are 65 years are likely to commit suicide than female counterparts (Mackelprang, & Salsgiver, 2016). The society’s expectation from men are so high that most fail to achieve the targets. Therefore, they feel that they must prove their worth by working hard, providing for their families, and excelling in all spheres of life. Additionally, traditionally, they are not expected to be visibly emotional even about issues that may affect them. At times, men are unable to meet these rigid expectations assigned to them by the cultural roles, thus, some of them resolve to taking their lives to save themselves from the shame and disrespect that accompanies the failure to meet gender-based expectations.

Women are also negatively affected by gender roles. For many decades, labor sector has been an area that disadvantage the women. In the past, feminist labor movement emerged in order to fight for the women rights in the work place. Women are disadvantaged in the Canadian workplace or professional fields. Schwartz & Han (2014) note those women on full-time employment still earn 71% of what their male counterparts do. The wage difference increases when women have children. Some employers are reluctant to hire women with children and when they do, they are not willing to pay them as well as the men in similar positions.



Bell, A. V., Michalec, B., & Arenson, C. (2014). The (stalled) progress of inter-professional collaboration: the role of gender. Journal of Inter-Professional Care, 28(2), 98-102.

Connell, R. W. (2014). Gender and power: Society, the person, and sexual politics. John Wiley & Sons.

Mackelprang, R. W., & Salsgiver, R. (2016). Disability: A diversity model approach in human service practice. Oxford University Press.

Schwartz, C. R., & Han, H. (2014). The reversal of the gender gap in education and trends in marital dissolution. American Sociological Review, 79(4), 605-629.

Szmukler, G., Daw, R., & Callard, F. (2014). Mental health law and the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. International journal of law and psychiatry, 37(3), 245-252.



Question 4: Discuss the different societal and historical changes that have transformed family life in Canada towards its diversification both in family forms and in household arrangements. How would you say that family life has changed in Canada towards the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century? Base your answer on documented evidence.

Family life in Canada has changed, especially when it comes to family forms and the general household arrangements. Most of these changes have occurred during the 20th and 21st centuries. A family is still known to be the basic unit of the society comprising of a mother, father, and children. However, society has changed in many aspects when it comes to family life. This paper explores five dimensions that include procreation, emotions, economic, socialization and residential to understand the transformation that the family life has undergone. The continued pressure of life and the need to keep up with development have contributed to the transformation of family life and household arrangements in Canada.

One of the changes that have transformed the family is the enrollment of women in institutions of higher learning, which has reduced procreation. Statistics indicate a considerable reduction in th number of births. In the 1950s, birth rates in Canada were an all-time high as was evident in the number of births per family (Ondercin-Bourne, 2012). However, from the mid-20th century, the birthrates declined progressively to 55 percent at present. According to Brym & Lie (2010), many women shifted their concentration from child bearing to education and building their careers. Such women postponed childbearing to a later date, leading to them having a few children. Some couples even decided not to have any children at all. As such, the number of children continually dropped as more women ventured into education and careers.

Cultural exchange and activism have changed the socialization aspect of families. Traditionally, cultures assigned roles for husbands and wives. For instance, men were expected to work hard and provide for the family. On the other hand, women were to care for and raise the children in a home setup. However, exposure to different cultures and advocacy for gender equality has led to men and women taking up roles not traditionally ascribed to them.  In some families wives now work to provide for the family as the husbands change diapers and feed the children (Brym, & Lie, 2010). Furthermore, the increase of single-parented families has forced fathers or mothers to play all the parenting roles to build and keep their families afloat.

Economic conditions have pushed families to assume roles that are not traditionally suited for their genders. With the current economic pressure, the income of a husband may not be enough for the needs of the family (Butler, 2012). As such, women have been forced to work and leave their children with nannies. In the early 1960s, only 20% of families had working wives and husbands; however, more than 60% of households have dual-incomes as of 2011 (Duffy, & Mandell, 2011). The changing family dynamics have led to other concerns in the society. Research indicates that families with the traditional understanding of marriage have better economical standards (Frazer-Harrison, 2015). As noted above, family transformation has led to situation where some individuals prefer to have children but not marriage. In effect, single parents are on the rise. Single parents are less economically stable than families with both parents working.

Liberal laws have also lead to the changes in family life in Canada. In the past, divorce cases were less because the laws made it difficult for spouses to separate. Lack of clarity on the rights and entitlements of each partner in case of divorce was a barrier to the process. However, the Divorce Act of 1968 and the Divorce Act of 1985 marked turnaround on the issue. At present, the law is clear on the entitlement and the courts can easily determine the cases for proper settlements (Butler, 2012). The resent changes in law have allowed marriage between people of the same sex as well as the determination of divorce of such couples.

This paper shows a number of ways family life has undergone transformation in Canada. The current pressures of life have encouraged diversity of opinion on family setup. As such, the traditional understanding of the family is no longer be absolute. The society must be ready to embrace the changes that arise that may redefine family units.





Brym, R. J., & Lie, J. (2010). Sociology: Your compass for a new world, the brief edition. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Butler, L. (2012).Diversity and conformity: The role of gender. In Angelini, P. U. (Ed.) Our society: Human diversity in Canada, 4th Edition (pp. 217-240). Toronto: Nelson Education.

Duffy, A., & Mandell, N. (2011). Canadian families: Diversity, conflict and change. Toronto: Nelson Education.

Frazer-Harrison, A. (February 16, 2015). “From controversy to tradition: 25 years of Family

Day”. The Calgary Herald. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

Ondercin-Bourne, G. (2012). Diversity in Canadian families: Traditional values and beyond. In Angelini, P. U. (Ed.) Our society: Human diversity in Canada, 4th Edition (pp. 277-312). Toronto: Nelson Education.