Gender Roles


Paragraph 286 from Amoris Laetitia


286. Nor can we ignore the fact that the configuration of our own mode of being, whether as male or female, is not simply the result of biological or genetic factors, but of multiple elements having to do with temperament, family history, culture, experience, education, the influence of friends, family members and respected persons, as well as other formative situations. It is true that we cannot separate the masculine and the feminine from God’s work of creation, which is prior to all our decisions and experiences, and where biological elements exist which are impossible to ignore. But it is also true that masculinity and femininity are not rigid categories. It is possible, for example, that a husband’s way of being masculine can be flexibly adapted to the wife’s work schedule. Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame. Children have to be helped to accept as normal such healthy “exchanges” which do not diminish the dignity of the father figure. A rigid approach turns into an overaccentuation of the masculine or feminine, and does not help children and young people to appreciate the genuine reciprocity incarnate in the real conditions of matrimony. Such rigidity, in turn, can hinder the development of an individual’s abilities, to the point of leading him or her to think, for example, that it is not really masculine to cultivate art or dance, or not very feminine to exercise leadership. This, thank God, has 216 changed, but in some places deficient notions still condition the legitimate freedom and hamper the authentic development of children’s specific identity and potential.

Right Association

The Buddha stressed the importance of right association. He said that people cannot find the truth unless the people they spend time with also seek the truth.

Think of a situation where a person’s decisions are affected by the people around them. Describe a real or made up situation.


The concept of dharma is important in Hinduism. Dharma has several different meanings. Following our dharma involves conducting ourselves righteously and according to our role in life. When we are young, our role in life is to be a good son or daughter. As we grow older, we should be good students, good friends, and good citizens. When we have decisions to make, we should do what is right, even if it goes against our best interests.

On an individual level, many people, consciously or unconsciously – do act in this way. But on a global level, people often put their own interests first. Think of a situation (either from history or from current events) where a person or a country acted based on self-interest rather than on what is right. Describe the situation. Then say what the person or the country should have done. How would that have affected history or current events?