Whether you are in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America or South America you might have encountered gender stereotyping and might have experienced it even once in your life.
What happens here is that people tend to make inaccurate generalizations of each human being based upon their gender. In other words, it can be simply explained as over-generalization of differences, attributes and characteristics of a certain group based solely on their gender. Respective culture of a particular country also plays a pivotal role in shaping the thinking pattern related to this concept. If a particular person acts differently by deviating the unwritten norm of how their gender is assumed to behave, the society may look down upon that individual creating inequality and unfair treatment as a result. For example, from childhood, we shape this with or without our knowledge to our children. It starts from the differentiation of pink and blue colours for the two genders and with the introduction of relevant toys to their world. Sometimes girls may like to play with cars and boys may like to play with dolls. Even the way of dressing also has played a major role. Gender stereotyping can be seen in the workplace too where there is still the assumption that women should be at home like old times. This is the main reason behind low wages of women compared to men in some professions. When it comes to occupation, women should not earn more than men and she is supposed to look after her family placing it first than her career. That is why we see lot of females try to balance the career and family life like never before while trying to compete with men to take equal opportunities.
Yet, there are issues of trust. Have you heard few dialogues like, “I trust a male doctor more for my illness” or “I would call a female mechanic but they are not good as men”? Basically, female gender stereotyping highlights the fact that females are less trustworthy in handling tough jobs than males. Women are supposed to be quiet, submissive, obedient, weak, shy, patient, more organized, multitasking etc. Quite contrary, men are supposed to be dominant, competitive, self-confident, tough, messy, aggressive etc. in personality traits. Even in the domestic environment, women are better in cooking, sewing with a foot pedal sewing machine, cleaning the house, looking after children whereas men are in charge of repairs of household and telling what to do.
Even though there are social and economic advances for women’s equality, current mass media still penetrates traditional gender stereotypes into our minds. If we take the world of commercials, females are still being used as objects in beauty preserving products to household appliances highlighting domestication. They are sometimes used as an ego booster of males which is mainly seen in automotives, colognes, and cigarettes advertisements by being a sexy seductress. Male gender stereotyping commonly emphasize the image of a muscular, successful, handsome, kind hearted male who always behave as a gentleman. Even there is another type of male who is chubby, sweet, smiling and jovial where he is being used for food commercials or household products. Even in movies, female roles are acting as protagonists more often these days. Yet, most of such characters are hyperactive, hyper attractive and hyper sexualized while making us feel that such females are unrealistic in our day today life. Even in animated world, especially in early Disney movies gender stereotyping is very prominent where heroine is either a queen, princess or an ordinary lady. Basically the princess was the damsel-in-distress who waited for her prince charming. Example: “Someday my prince will come” song by Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the music world, artists like Beyoncé, Marilyn Manson, Patrick Wolf had acted to break gender stereotyping without glorifying it. Here are few example songs that broke gender stereotyping:
- “I’m gonna be an engineer” by Peggy Seeger
- “Run the world” by Beyoncé
- “Girls with guitars” by Wynonna Judd
Talking from my experience, I used to have very short hair to my neckline till I go to university. Then I had to grow my hair to ease the process of finding suitable partner because most of the males in our society prefer to see feminine qualities in their future wife when considering the marriage. Even some found my working area of Physics as an intimidated ground which is quite unlike for a female to survive in the male dominating discipline. Even some relatives of mine have suggested going into the profession of teaching as it is a more convenient job for a female compared to lecturing at universities when you are running a family. All these things are relative according to the society that you live in as well.
I guess we all should not be silent when we face such sexist attitudes from the society. Even you can be the change by being a role model by challenging such bigoted persons while changing gender roles in your normal life. But you need to play it safe without endangering yourself or your loved ones. Yet, I feel gender stereotyping imprisons us by emphasizing the fact that every person either behave as a male or female without considering the true identity or individuality of a certain person. That is how I see it, folks!