by Isabella Macioce and Hailey Zheng
There is no shortage of injustices in today’s society. The issue that will be addressed today is the ongoing injustice of gender roles. If you are not familiar with the concept of gender roles, it is the genderization of everything from colors, hobbies, music, and everything you could imagine that does not specifically identify as female or male. For example, the color pink and wearing dresses are stereotypically identified as feminine, just as football and sports cars are stereotypically male. These kinds of expectations exist everywhere in society, and they often limit what a man or woman can and cannot do. Gender roles are something that should not exist in modern day and need to be recognized so they can be abolished.
Admittedly men seem to have a harder time in this category. In this day and age it is accepted for a girl to like sports, drink beer, and enjoy other stereotypically masculine activities. However, if I man tries to wear a dress, or watch Gossip Girl, suddenly that’s “weird” and he is wrong to do those things. In fact, if a man or boy openly shows his passion or fondness for a stereotypically feminine action he can be labeled as gay, as if that were an insult. Boys can actually refrain from activities they love just because they are afraid of being called gay. Men have a right to like the same thing as women do, and they shouldn’t have to stop what they love just because straightforward traditional mindsets limit them.
Gender roles are often unknowingly introduced to children at a very young age. The world around them reflects countless gender roles. However, other times adults can purposefully teach a child these gender norms. As one of the authors of this article I can recount a particular incident I observed in a hot tub in my neighborhood; I witnessed a woman giving an account to a young boy of about three years of age about gender roles. It was a small incident, but it’s the little building blocks that build up and up until we are left with a huge wall separating us from the judgement and fear of the reality that nobody relevant cares about these kinds of things. Anyway, the little boy who was very talkative was asking this woman all sorts of questions about everything when he asked, “Is it okay for a boy to wear pink nail polish?” Obviously, I was thinking that of course it’s okay, and she knows it, but I was proven wrong when she opened her mouth and said “No, it’s not okay,” in a sweet tone. She then proceeded to talk to him in an age-appropriate manner about various gender roles, but I was upset so I left. This boy could have gone his entire life thinking it was okay for him to wear nail polish, but at a very young age he had already begun being conditioned to follow society’s rules.
You should never put someone down for liking something that does not go according to their “gender.” First of all, that thing they like has no gender, and therefore can not be sorted into any of your screwed up categories. Second of all, why would you make fun of something that makes another person happy just because it’s too feminine/masculine? If a girl loved video games more than anything, making fun of her for being a wannabe “gamer girl” is sure to cause her to reevaluate her choices and wonder why she never chose to play with things like dolls that were plastered with a feminine label. If playing video games made her happy, then anyone who is against her being able to play them or makes fun of her for playing them are the ones who need to reevaluate their choices.
It is extremely important to understand that we are constantly changing as a species. We are not the same as we were 50 years ago, our morals and ethics have changed drastically since then. Trying to hold on to “traditional” values is impossible, as they will eventually be washed away. When you apply this to gender roles, you can see that many of them have faded throughout the years, but just as many have popped up. The way youth in particular is treated these days is crucial. If we teach young boys that it is okay to play with dolls, okay to like the color pink and paint your nails, and do whatever makes you happy, then we will have a generation of men who know how to change the world. If we start teaching girls that it is okay to be themselves even if their interests don’t fall into categories such as shopping and cheerleading. If we start teaching them that they can choose to do whatever they want as long as it makes them happy, then we teach an entire new generation and many more to come how to be accepting of our differences and how to help shape the world into a more equal place.
Some of you may have heard about Jennifer Lawrence’s recent decision to stand up for her right to be paid as much as her male co-stars. Pay gaps between men and women are another example of a gender role because, looking back in time, women have been forced to stay home and do the chores of the household (cooking, cleaning, caring for children, etc.) while their husbands provide for the family. If the wife wanted to work, she either would not be allowed to or would be paid a significant amount less than her spouse. Nowadays, we have much more rights for women, but there is still an injustice regarding pay gaps. In some cases, women make $0.70 per dollar than men make. For example, imagine that a man and a woman both work the same job. Their pay rate is $50/hour. One week, they both work 7 hours a day for 7 days (49 hours total). The man walks away with $1,750, while the woman makes $525 less than her male co-worker. This is not acceptable.
Overall, Gender Roles are a limitation on our society and we should be working as much as possible to avoid them. Discriminating against somebody because they are not the gender you expected them to be based on their likes and dislikes is just as bad as discriminating against race. Men and women are equal and should be acknowledged as the same in terms of clothing, style, activities, movies, jobs, and so much more. If judgement biased towards all of the genders stops, then society will become healthier and happier.