The Importance Of Maintaining Gender Roles

1574 words - 7 pages

In today’s society, gender roles play a large part in formation of the individual. The photograph chosen, which appeared on the Boston Globe’s website and was captured by John Tlumacki, exposes the emotion of a three-year-old boy saying goodbye to his father before deployment, while including references to military masculinity and gender roles. At first glance, the viewer sees the obvious separation between the civilians and the Military Police Soldiers through physical distance. There is a clear discrepancy between the structures of these two sides. The masculine soldiers, all in uniform, virtually possess the same stances and the same blank facial expressions. The civilian group, consisting of wives and children in particular, are all jumbled together in a disorganized manner. There is no use of color to order or group the civilians together (Tlumacki). In plain sight, the photograph could easily be overlooked, but viewed in the context of gender role portrayal, it speaks volumes. Gender roles play a large part in the behavior of individuals, and each specific gender role offers punishment or reward to the individual for deviation or compliance.
The clear contrast in this photograph lies in the emotion shown by the young boy and the statuesque lack of emotion shown by his father and the other soldiers. Although the eye initially drifts to the young boy, let us first discuss the importance of the soldiers and what they represent in the photograph. Here it becomes obvious that masculinity is a main focus of the picture. The soldiers on the left side of the photograph embody the desired characteristics for the achievement of masculinity. Devor states that there is no hierarchical relationship among different gender roles, but examples, such as the military, prove this to be untrue. Devor actually contradicts his statement in his examples of how the female gender role is somewhat based off of the male’s gender role. Among other examples, he states that women within the relationship between a mother and her child there is a “natural” dependency on men (Devor 113). According to Hinojosa, “Military offers men resources for construction of masculine identity defined by emotional control, self-discipline, self-reliance, willingness to use aggression and physical violence and risk taking”, which are all qualities upheld by the military and society in general, so we immediately become aware that the standard for masculinity in this picture rests on the highest tier of the gender role pyramid. Within society, the military is highly respected and admired for characteristics of physical ability, leadership, and the protection of United States civilians. While regular civilians admire the military and innately rank its members above average citizens, members of the military also rank themselves above civilians because they possess more qualities that are considered necessary for masculinity. As stated in Hinojosa’s article, “The practice of rank- ordering of...

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