5 Challenging Gender Stereotypes That Don’t Let Us Be Happy
A woman’s place is not just in the kitchen anymore. And more and more men accompany women when they are in labor. But it’s still not quite clear who should pay for dinner at a restaurant.
There is no difference between genders in terms of intelligence or emotional perception which has been proven by more than 2,000 scientific studies. But for some reason, any of us can easily describe what a “true man” and a “true woman” should be like and these descriptions vary from person to person. These differences are caused by gender stereotypes (the ideas of what men and women should be like). If these social rules have become a problem, maybe we should think about changing them?
Bright Side talks about gender stereotypes that don’t just cause a lot of heated arguments online, but also limit choices in our daily lives.
Stereotype № 1: Girls are supposed to be beautiful and kind, and boys should be brave and strong.
Children have no idea how they should behave according to their gender, but adults explain these things to them very quickly. Boys are taught to be ashamed of themselves if they cry, and girls are taught to never mess up their dresses. Psychologist Christia Spears Brown in her book Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes explains that when talking to boys, adults use numbers and examples from nature, and when talking to girls, they mention appearance more. Guess who is more worried about their appearance and extra weight?
Brown says that any child, no matter their gender, should have 3 types of toys: one for their intelligence, one for their body, and one for their emotions. Puzzles develop intelligence, bicycles and balls are necessary for physical activity, and playing with dolls and soft toys teaches children to be kind and caring.
Don’t prohibit your son from playing with plates and strollers and girls should be allowed to play with toy cars. Don’t use phrases like, “Don’t fight, you’re a girl,” or “You have to be strong, you are a boy.” Teach your son to cook and clean, and your daughter to use a screwdriver and a hammer. And then, maybe boys won’t be ashamed of using paternity leave and girls will have more freedom when choosing their profession: pilot, plumber, teacher, or any other job.
Stereotype № 2: Men should pay for women at a restaurant.
American woman Ashleigh Bradley complained on Twitter that she went on a date where she told the guy that it wasn’t going to work out and he told her to pay for 50% of the restaurant bill. This caused a heated argument online: should a man pay for a woman during the dating period. And if yes, then what do they pay for?
Psychologist Marina Commisarova says that the traditional courtship (flowers, asking out, and opening doors) is just a romantic gesture that shouldn’t be mistaken for being ready to satisfy all the needs of a woman. Courtship means that a man is interested, which is nice but if a woman wants to be respected and if she wants her opinion to be taken seriously then she needs to refuse this constant care.
If it’s about a balanced relationship, then ideally a man should offer to pay and a woman should refuse. And if he gives her a present, she should give him a present too. When a woman really needs help, she should ask for it, and a man should be ready to help. But in the situations when a woman can easily take care of herself, she should do just that.
Actress Emma Watson said, “I like it when someone opens a door for me or invites me to dinner. The question is, would a man feel offended if I held a door for him? If not, then we’re fine: we are just being polite to each other.”
Stereotype № 3: Men are polygamous and women should be okay with this.
The numbers in studies differ but all scientists agree on one thing: men cheat more often on their partners than women. Some people think that men have some kind of a “gene” that makes them cheat. But the reality is that neither men nor women are monogamous from birth. The fact that women loved other men before meeting their husbands proves that they are polygamous too.
Fidelity is a conscious choice and cheating is a good reason to think about whether you need this relationship or not. Even if you don’t want to break up, maybe it’s better to stay away from each other for a little while: remembering that the one who cheated should be putting in some kind of effort if they want to stay together.
Stereotype № 4: Women are worse managers than men.
Because many employers believe that women are not good for management positions, they rarely get jobs where they can showcase their leadership skills. This idea creates the “glass ceiling” effect — an invisible barrier that limits women’s career growth because of reasons that have nothing to do with their professional skills.
There is also a huge wage gap: men earn more money for the same job than women. However, famous psychologist Jordan Peterson says that the salary gap is caused not just by gender differences but by personality traits like being too soft or emotional. The necessary “harder” traits are suppressed in women, so it becomes harder for them to earn a better salary and move forward.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence found out how much her male colleagues got for the same movie and she was really angry with herself for not being persistent enough when negotiating her salary because of not wanting to get a bad reputation. Since then, Jennifer and other Hollywood actresses have been fighting for equal salaries and they serve as an example for other women fighting for their rights.
Stereotype № 5: Men don’t cry.
According to studies, men experience anger, sadness, and fear just as often as women but they express only anger, suppressing fear and sadness (unlike women who suppress their anger and express sadness and fear). Also, men don’t think that they can be compassionate, but the calculation of physiological and mimic reactions shows men and women have the same ability for compassion.
In other words, men are under a heavy load of gender stereotypes just like women: they are forced to hide their emotions and not show that they’re having a hard time. But these stereotypes make their lives much harder.
Emma Watson said, “I hate the idea that men don’t have the right to cry. They can’t express their emotions, they can’t talk about how and what they feel. It’s terrible. The ability to express your emotions doesn’t make you weak, it makes you a person. If you have a heart beating in your chest and you care, it’s great!”
What do you think about the differences between men and women? Tell us in the comment section below.
Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for BrightSide.me