Have you ever heard that boys wear blue, and girls wear pink? What about women staying in the kitchen while the men go out and provide for their families? Like it or not, the world is full of gender roles that impact our daily lives.
Girls are taught how to be good wives and homemakers from a young age. They were taught how to cook and clean. At the same time, boys were taught how to do things traditionally seen as manly, like playing sports or hunting. This is because of traditions passed down many generations. According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, “women are expected to adopt the role of a caregiver. This is ingrained in females through their social and cultural experiences starting from childhood.” These roles can be very damaging to people starting at a young age.
According to plannedparenthood.org, “Gender roles in society means how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex.”
Binary gender stereotypes affect every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It affects our personality traits, domestic behaviors, occupations, and physical appearance. It can affect how we see ourselves, especially if we do not conform to gender norms.
When discussing personality traits, we must identify women as more emotional and timid and men as aggressive or more confident. An example is when men try to express their emotions; society says they are weak and sometimes labeled as gay. Another example is when women are confident or assertive and are told they are ‘bossy’ or act like brats.
Regarding domestic behaviors, we associate men with being in charge of finances and providing for the family; meanwhile, women are in charge of childcare, cooking, and cleaning. We live in a world where stay-at-home moms are the norm, but stay-at-home dads are still a complex concept to grasp.
Gender roles can affect a person’s occupation. When we think of jobs like secretary, librarian, teacher, nurse, or hairstylist, we think of women. And when we think of jobs like scientist, doctor, mechanic, or CEO of a company, we think of men. Many women are discriminated against or paid less when they have jobs that have been for men traditionally. According to teamstage.io, “About 42% of US women have faced discrimination in the workplace based on gender.” And “As of 2018, women earn $0.82 for every $1 earned by men.”
Physical appearance significantly affects women and men; some stereotypes go along with how each gender is supposed to look. In society, women are supposed to be shorter and skinny and not have a lot of fat, while men are supposed to be tall and muscular. These stereotypes have been known to have adverse effects on people, creating eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
The impact of gender roles on society seems primarily negative. According to thelancet.com, “women have a higher lifetime prevalence of mood or anxiety disorders than men.” Violence against women is widespread due to women being seen as weaker and some men’s hatred of women. Women are also more likely to be ignored by doctors when they try to explain medical problems they have. According to an article in the New York Times, “Women are also more likely to be told their pain is “psychosomatic,” or influenced by emotional distress.”
There are still many gaps between men and women due to gender roles and stereotypes. There are many ways to fight against gender roles. Speak up when you hear sexist comments, whether in person or online. Be respectful to people, no, may their gender identity. Talk about any negative stereotypes that you see in the media and explain why they are harmful.