A Modern Woman’s Take on Gender Roles and Relationship Etiquette by Chanel Hardy

Gender stereotypes and relationship etiquette have been a part of society for the longest time. Standards and rules put on us by a patriarchy and our peers. But there is a line between relationship etiquette that is forced and by choice. My own idea of relationship etiquette is taking on certain responsibilities by choice, and not because of the forceful stereotyping of gender roles.pizap.com15143902201001

I’ll use my marriage as an example. I never take the garbage out because my husband always takes care of it; He never does the laundry because I take care of it. We don’t take on these responsibilities because we believe it is the other persons job as a man or woman. We do them because we want to, and feel it is a civil gesture and a thoughtful thing to do for the other person.

In my teen novel, ‘My Colorblind Rainbow’ both main characters deal with gender stereotypes pushed on them by their families. One character even being told that she should be a homemaker just like her mother. Growing up and even now, the idea of a woman doing certain things, like cooking for her man was and still is considered a standard for heterosexual relationships. In my home, we both work, share most of the cleaning duties, and bills are taken care of with one joint account. But as a woman, I still value certain traditional things when it comes to caring for my spouse. I love cooking. I have home-cooked meals prepared at least 5 days out of the week. When I worked nights, I made sure it was prepared before I left for work. If my husband is working a night shift, I’ll have his plate in the microwave waiting for him when he gets home. I know how “June Cleaver” that sounds of me, but it is in no way out of obligation. I simply value the idea of taking care of my spouse, just as he does.

mcrm1 (2)

Gender roles tend to have their place in some gay relationships as well. Based on my own research, I found that some gay men and women feel the pressure to be dominant or submissive in their relationships. I conducted a study of my own, Where I surveyed males and females with different sexual orientations and relationship statuses. 30% of respondents said that they like the idea of gender roles in relationships while the other 70% said no. The 30% that said yes, were all female, who also considered their partner to be the dominant one in their current relationships. 10% of respondents who identified as bisexual or gay, believe in relationships having a dominant partner as well, which leads to certain expectations along the lines of gender roles despite both partners being the same sex.

Most would agree that nothing guarantees a long-lasting relationship. There is no certain right or wrong way.  But I do believe that relationship etiquette is important, because it shows your significant other that you value and appreciate them. Society has progressed a lot over the years allowing women to escape submissive gender stereotypes, but I do think it can be beneficial for love, to retain some of those old-fashioned values.

25398766_10215419066256670_4997676550273093465_nBorn and raised in Washington D.C., writing has been my passion since I was young. I started writing my first book, My Colorblind Rainbow at 22, not actually pursuing a career in writing at the time. At 26, I decided to continue writing, taking a leap of faith and following my dreams of self-publishing. Fantasy, sci-fi, and teen fiction are my preference. I want to write for LGBTQ, marginalized races and genders, but my main goal is to reach out to young black women and be that positive representation in literature that we love, but often don’t see.




  1. I like the idea of this post, but I think the final message about keeping “traditional values” is contrary to the earlier message of “I do this because I enjoy it, not because it is a gender role” i feel this could have been offset by mentioning a way in which you both break gender roles for each other– or mentioning something that you both enjoy that is opposite to trad. gender roles. it may have also been possible to re-iterate that it is fine that some men and women enjoy trad. Gender roles, but celebrate that men and women (mostly women) have the liberty to break away from those roles, and to celebrate how, when, and why this can be positive. Many women are still subject to sexist views from fathers, male partners, and female members of their families as well.

    In terms of LGBT relationships, I’ve seen many videos and some memes where people openly break the idea of having gender roles in a relationship because it’s offensive that heterosexual people would impose gender roles on their relationships and thus simplify that relationship to a stereotypical and sometimes derogatory way of thinking after all, neither girl is a man. While I realize many LGBT people have internalized gender roles, (terms like butch, femme, twink and bear to describe physical qualities and level of femininity/masculinity) have been around for decades…)I would have appreciated seeing the gender-role breaking actions of GLBTQ people alongside your observation that gender roles can be preserved.


  2. Thank you for your feedback Anna! I also wanted to add that mentioning how we share certain responsibilities such as cleaning, bills, ect.. was my way of showing female liberation in a sense that not every aspect of my relationship is based on gender roles. But my main point while writing this piece was that relationship etiquette can be beneficial when it’s an act of kindness and love, and although we live in progressive times, it is perfectly normal to still have some of these standards in relationships, because feminism is also about freedom of choice, after all.


Comments are closed.