From the moment a baby is born, they’re wrapped in either a pink or blue blanket. Since before they can talk, they either wear dresses or overalls. Before they can read, they’re watching Disney Princess movies or superhero movies.
A pair of siblings go to the grandparents’ house for the weekend. The grandma takes the sister to the kitchen. She compliments her dress and asks her to fetch the chocolate chips from the pantry. While they put the cookies in the oven, the grandfather and brother yell at the football game. The ref called the play wrong.
The teacher sits down with her kindergarten class and asks what all the kids do that weekend. Most of the boys recount of their soccer games and “throwing the old pig skin” with their dad. After all the boys have talked about their weekends, the girls talk about dressing their Barbie dolls and mothering their baby dolls.
As the years go on, a pattern starts to form. The boys keep playing soccer and the girls keep dressing up. The boys can run free, while girls are trained to style themselves and look nice. These stereotypes aren’t always true, but the amount of pressure society puts on these activities really makes a difference. Children are having a skewed vision of gender. Girls are supposed to be soft and delicate, while boys are allowed to be brave and strong.
This set of societal views is better known as gender roles. Gender roles isn’t some idea feminists came up with to create a problem. Gender roles is the phenomenon that girls have to be feminine and guys have to be masculine. This is extremely harmful to everyone.
Teenage girls are ridiculed for being bad at sports, but it’s not their fault that their parents bought her new dolls instead of a new soccer ball. Teenage boys have to be strong and are ridiculed for crying.Girls can wear jeans but guys can’t wear dresses and skirts. If a girl is domestically abused and reaches out she is seeking attention and when a guy does he should have enjoyed it. If a girl plays sports, she’s trying to get a boyfriend, but when a boy would rather go to choir he’s made fun of.
The term “stay-at-home mom” is much more common than the term “stay-at-home dad.” Men are praised for being good business men, but women in authoritative positions are called bossy. When a mother is professional she should spend more time with her kids, while a successful father is one that’s just doing his job. If two parents split, the mother is more likely to take full custody because of her gender.
These stereotypes may not even be apparent, but they sneak into conversations and are just reinforced. Grandparents are raised with these ideals and it’s reflected in how they address their grandchildren. This issue can’t be stopped unless conversation is brought up about it. Talking about gender roles, no matter how small, can have a great impact on stopping these stereotypes all together.
One instance is when Target combined the girl’s and boy’s toy sections to non-gendered toys. Even something as simple as where a toy lands on a shelf can spark great change. Now a little girl may spot a toy truck instead of picking a plastic doll and her little brother could become the father of a Cabbage Patch kid. Gender roles shouldn’t define an individual or the way they’re viewed.