Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boys vs. Girls

Although I am blessed to live in a country where sexism is no longer rampant, I am still disappointed in the lingering stereotypes and expectations for the two genders. Many are caused by ignorance, but others are caused by beliefs that have been stressed since childhood.

Females are still viewed by many as the weaker sex, as only being good for bearing children, and most disgustingly, as objects. Girls are expected from birth to wear pink clothes and frills, and as they grow older, heels and makeup. This is one stereotype that has declined over the years, but it can still be witnessed frequently. Girls are supposed to play with Barbies and gossip, and are generally discouraged from being noisy or rowdy. I recall goofing around with some of my male friends in the eighth grade, playing tag and shoving each other, when an older female teacher called me over. She did not reprimand me for any particular reason, but rather instructed me not to roughhouse with the boys because it was not ladylike. I often find myself the only girl in a group of boys, generally because I am one of the few females who actually cares to learn how to juggle, or play soccer, or do improv. It makes me feel isolated, but I do so anyway because it seems as if it is the more fun option, despite the lack of participation from other girls.

However, every coin has its flip-side. I cannot speak from experience, but I have borne witness to plenty of stereotypes against the male sex. Males are expected to be tough, and are called "pussies" and "girls" if they cry (yet another insult to females). Boys are supposed to be crude, loud, and insensitive, and are discouraged from showing emotion. The phrase "boys will be boys" dismisses these actions, because being boys, of course they are naturally all of these. Professions in the various fields of art are viewed as off-limits to boys because they are too "girly". Many refuse to believe that males can be victims of domestic abuse. A male friend of mine was surprised to hear about a male rape victim, and many cases of male rape and abuse go unreported because the victim is often derided for being too "weak" to stop it. 

Like all stereotypes, it is our job to disprove them. We have all succumbed to these stereotypes at one time or another, and we will continue to fall victim to them unless we make a conscious effort not to do so. There's nothing wrong with a girl playing football or a boy wearing a pink shirt- and it's high time everyone realized it.

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