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Gender Roles and Stereotypes: Someone Please Tell Me Why They Still Exist

I never thought I would write a blog about something like this, what with it being the 21st century and all, but as much as I would like to believe that we are slowly moving towards a society where blurring gender roles and getting rid of age-old stereotypes were not only okay, but celebrated, I do question if it is just wishful thinking. These are a few of the examples that I have heard about from friends or have seen firsthand. Some of you may disagree due to your own experiences (which I can understand) but this blog is meant to generate some critical thinking rather than target individuals or groups and attack them. I would love nothing more than for you to think of any situations where this may be applicable, alter your thinking, and change your behaviour accordingly. If you cannot think of any, then that’s great! It means that together, as a society, we are moving in the right direction.

The first example I can think of is the classic “it’s okay for girls to cry but boys shouldn’t because it makes them a __________” (feel free to insert any derogatory name here that entails that the individual is weak). I hear this time and time again. Maybe it’s just a joke or
maybe it’s just socially accepted that it is still okay to say stuff like this. I have talked to people in my age group as well as younger peers and have found that people think of women as being overly emotional (which is why it is okay to cry) and that men should hold it in and “man up.” Does this, for some reason, entail that crying makes a person weak and that it’s okay for women to have these weak moments but not okay for men to have the same? Why is that okay? Why doesn’t it work both ways? We should be teaching both genders that it is more than okay to cry once in awhile because sometimes all you need is a really good cry. Nobody should feel ashamed to do so! In my opinion, it’s rather unhealthy to NOT cry!

The second example would be women are supposed to be more sensitive than men. I will combine this with women are also better communicators than men. I’m not saying one way or another because I haven’t done enough research that scientifically shows that one gender is better at it than the other. I’m saying personally, I’ve found that some of my girlfriends have a hard time grasping onto the emotions in a situation and lack in the communications sector whereas my guy friends can pick up how I’m feeling right away and respond with the way I’m feeling in mind. It is more than okay to not excel at being sensitive and lack in the communications sector but I just question why it is more acceptable for men to lack in one or both and expected of women to excel at one or both?

The last example I can think of and probably the one that irritates me most is the fact that
women are supposed to be very “catty” and enjoy gossip. This is one that really annoys me because I think it is a very general, blanket statement that encompasses all of us into this stereotype. For this particular one, I would be more than happy if neither gender had the label. This is not a good concept to have attached to either gender. I hear this from both women and men. Women complain about other women loving drama and they claim that they do not want to be friends with a specific person for that particular reasons. On the other hand, men will say things like “I’m glad I’m not a woman surrounded by other women because they gossip too much. Guys are simpler.” This is not okay. As women, we should not be beating each other down as a group in order to show our individuality and what is perceived as positive traits and as men, we should not be pushing these stereotypes forward to the next generation.

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