Traditional gender roles shifting is not uncommon issue nowadays since women now have a bigger access to education and career, also to voice their aspirations in public. It is not a rare case to witness more women excels in their job and gets higher positions at work. While the traditional view of gender roles tends to place women in more domestic duties, problems may arise when wives make more money than husbands. Nevertheless, in some households, the gender roles shifting issues can work well—or who knows, perhaps at the surface it does not really portray the risky challenges between the wives and the husbands.
While our society desire men to earn more money than their wives, the ‘shifting’ term is not a mere label because based on an analysis composed by Dan Cassino, the gender wage gap between wives and husbands actually determines their willingness to do domestic chores. If the gap is not that huge where women earn money slightly less than their husbands, the more the husbands desire to do household tasks. Yet, if the wives out-earn their husbands, it is when the men will do less domestic chores than he otherwise would when they make more than the wives. Cassino explains the rationale behind this logic.
First of all, our society demands the husbands to earn more than their wives do; thus, men in general feel like they have no more room to perform their masculinity by not being the main breadwinner in the family. Second, household or domestic chores are typical feminine tasks, this is why when their masculinity is threatened, they prefer to have less domestic chores since it would accentuate their lack of masculinity—this is what US Census Bureau refers to as Manning Up and Womanning Down.
Like it or not, women excelling at work tend to be seen as if they violate the traditional gender roles, and in order for this to be socially accepted, the wives should go the extra mile to take care of household chores and also being the caregiver in the family at the same time. Women are expected to do these compensating behaviours to show some respect towards their husbands and to find balance, therefore the husbands may feel less intimidated. Because the risk is pretty much imaginable, when a family has little-to-no respect towards each other’s roles, the risk of divorce surely will increase.
What if we are ‘trapped’ in this condition where the wife significantly makes more money than the husband? The answer is, we need a good support system where both parties should be actively involved in it—especially the wife, towards their husband.
Take a look at the case of Ada Choi, a famous Hong Kong actress and the runner up Miss Hong Kong in 1991 who married to a newcomer Chinese actor and former athlete Zhang Jin with the fact public knows Ada is more well-known than her husband and that everyone may be curious as to how Zhang can measure up with his wife’s fame. Yet, in reality, Ada appears to be very supportive with Zhang’s entertainment career, proven by the fact that Zhang’s career is also developing at the same time.
Ada and Zhang is a couple who never refuses to show their admiration to each other. In the mid of 2018, Ada was reported to have an estimated net worth of $33 million, but this does not stop her to support and respect her husband. What is more, in one occasion, Ada once stated “I've been in this business for 20 years. There's no need to compare popularity. I was once proud of it and also was confused. The year when everybody said I was famous, no one gave me a single acting job. I am just an ordinary person, not a star. No matter who or what someone is, they should consider themselves a normal person first," in response to a public question on the gap in the degree of fame between Ada and Zhang.
Remember, not all men and women are comfortable with gender role shifting. This is the gap that should be filled in with discussion, consideration, and understanding before getting married. A couple who demonstrates the traditional gender roles in the family tends to be seen as “normal”, while in the other hand, wives who earn more than their spouses should not be judged as ignorant as well.