Esperanza is not a big fan of the gender roles that keep women in her community oppressed. Men on Mango Street beat their wives and daughters and confine them to the home. Just being a women is sometimes cause enough for abuse – a fact that we observe in the beatings that Sally constantly receives, and in Esperanza's rape. Esperanza offers us a critique of the way men and women relate to one another, and refuses to conform to the expectations placed on her sex by getting married or even acting in a feminine way. For our protagonist, defying gender roles and remaining independent is an act of rebellion, and a source of power.
In The House on Mango Street, gender is portrayed as a social construction – something that people learn as they grow up, not something they're born with.
Men have it easy on Mango Street – it's much easier for the male characters of the novel to live up to the gender role prescribed for them than it is for women.