An anonymous classmate shared a time with me where they experienced the harsh reality of people spreading and talking about common gender stereotypes.
“I remember being at the barber shop getting my hair done, the guy doing my head and another barber were speaking about how a women’s sole purpose is to satisfy the needs of men and to cater to men. That if she can’t do that bare minimum along with cooking and cleaning then they see that as a motive to cheat. They also spoke about how women can’t and shouldn’t be friends with males because the males don’t really only want them for friendship. Even though I disagreed with what they were saying, being a girl myself, I couldn’t help but have to sit through it since the guy was doing my head.”
A male friend of mine shared a reccontance of being forced to put up a front for the entirety of his life. Close family and friends made it clear that showing his emotions and attempting to speak out and express how he felt was unattractive and weak. Typically, the man in the relationship has the job to be an unwavering boulder that can face any hardships, shower his partner with unending love and affection without needing the same, and be the money support that feeds the wants and needs of his partner.
Gender stereotypes about women are aimed more toward making them believe that if they’re not the daintiest flower in the garden they could never be the type of person that makes it far in life. You need to be slim, dependent and innocent. Even speaking too loud or having an intelligible opinion warrants strange looks from bystanders who actively choose to believe a woman wouldn’t actually enjoy being her own person.
According to the Fawcett Society, after doing a poll “half of all women affected (53%) said gender stereotyping had a negative impact on who does the caring in their own family. Older women were particularly affected by this. 7 in 10 younger women (18-34s) affected by stereotypes say their career choices were restricted.” While “69% of men aged under 35 said that gender stereotyping of children has a damaging effect on perceptions of what it means to be a man or a woman.”
Research on the effects of gender stereotypes on childhood has been documented by many, yet fully understood by few.
Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “Gender stereotypes hold us all back. We have boys who cannot express their emotions, become aggressive, under-achieve at school and go on to be part of a culture of toxic masculinity which normalizes violence. We have girls who have low self-esteem and issues with their body image, with one in five 14-year-old girls self-harming.”
It just goes to show how dysfunctional these types of stereotypes and ideas truly are. Supporting harmful concepts of how you’re supposed to act at any given moment of your life depending on whether you’re a girl or guy, only brings our society to a lower standard. Gender has slowly turned into a weapon to use against people who want to act accordingly to who they are, creating an image that everyone is required to mimic to the best of their ability, leaving them as outcasts if they don’t.
Some would even say that stereotypes are purposely poisoning the minds of society to create people who are easily moldable.
Women in the workforce are a perfect example of these new and improved moldable people. Even being a big chunk of the workforce women still earn less pay then men and tend to reject higher paying jobs in avoidance of male-dominated professions. Women being discouraged by society when it comes to being more independent and taking initiative in a work setting has created waves of people too hesitant in their own abilities to believe advancement in the chain of command is possible.
Gender stereotypes aren’t new though as you’d probably assume. These rules and ideas have been preserved for a long time and new rules appear as our society grows and changes.
We need to change our thinking if we want to advance into becoming a better and forgiving society. There’s no reason girls as young as 14 should be harming themselves because they don’t match what’s made to be the norm. Our boys shouldn’t have to go through life with pent up emotions that can’t come out through anything but anger and violence.
There’s no point in having harmful rules that are dependent on gender. As the researcher George Calin said: “Men are from earth, women are from earth. Deal with it.”