Gender roles play a very prominent part in society, and more often then not, it happens subconsciously because it is what we expect to see in people is create by the media and what we expect to be the norm. There are so many standards regarding how the proper girl or boy should look, dress, and act and these ideas are created in peoples’ mind and are forced upon people at a very young age.
In my own self story about gender, I expose the normative narrative around how, as children, boys and girls are expected to act and play differently. A toy’s a toy discusses how little girls are expected to play with toys such as doll’s and boys are expected to play sports and have boyish toys such as cars. Adults in particular have become so used to this norm that it is strange to them when a little girl wants to play with the “boy’ toy. Just as the woman working at McDonalds thought and stated that, a boy wouldn’t want a necklace, and because I wasn’t a boy, I shouldn’t want a sports toy. My mom informed the lady working that, “it shouldn’t matter. A toy is a toy.” However, this is often hard to see as sexism is built into society in ways that we don’t even recognize. Is Everyone Really Equal by Robin DiAngelo gives the example of how, “cooperate-produced toys amplify rigid gender roles, socializing girls into femininity (nurturing, caring, beauty play) and boys into masculinity (aggressive, violent, physical play).” (DiAngelo, p 1 06). My classmate, Amber Sadden, had an experience that was not that different from mine when playing with her cousin, who happened to be a boy. Jonas, the cousin, was caught playing with dolls and a pink puppy by his father, who, as a result, become enraged and lectured the children on how, “the colour pink was only for prissy princesses and dolls for girly girls, but since he was to be a man that he shouldn’t be anywhere near those toys.” Girls, who are supposed to grow up to be nurturing mothers are expected to be the ones playing with dolls while boys are supposed to grow up to be hard working and strong and instead should be sports or more hands-on games. In reality, the father should play just as important of a role as the mother and both parents should be hard working, capable, and motivated. Both Amber and I are arguably very lucky because we both grew up with parents who didn’t look at toys this way and who helped us to understand that it’s okay to play with whichever toys we wanted. However, Amber said that she felt ashamed to be holding this pink toy that got her in trouble; it seemed as though her uncle thought that the pink toy was a sign of weakness. Amber says that her mom worked hard to remind her that, “’a toy is just a toy’ and ‘a colour is just a colour.'”
Another classmate of mine, Aiden Hugg, wrote a story about how the stereotypical man’s evening should go. This includes driving around late at night, smoking in his car with his friend, drinking, and playing pool. “When we got sick of cigarettes, we broke out the pipe and tobacco. We continued to converse, and after we had finished a bowl, we went inside. Once inside, I poured myself a scotch on ice, and Tyler prepared himself a gin with orange juice. Once are drinks were prepared, we went down to play a best of 7 in pool, as we often did.” These are all habits that are very typical of young men and what society would expect to see. Aiden and his friend do these sorts of things all the time and no one thinks twice about it. However, if two young women were to get together, get drunk and high, and hangout in a pool hall smelling like cigarettes, people would most certainly judge and probably refer to them as trashy because that is not how society things girls should behave. Behaviour such as this is something that a young women’s parents would disapprove of her doing.
In comparison to this, Esther tells the story about the time that her and her friends went to an older girl asking how to be a “girly girl.” The girl they go to, Briana, describes herself as being more a tomboy, shows the younger girl what a “girly girl” looks and acts like. The girls play together, and spend time dressing and acting like girls, in an almost mocking way. They learn how to dress, talk, as well as how to do the cat walk, some wearing heels, but then laugh at each other for looking ridiculous. This goes to show how society and the media has created an image of what girls should look like and how they should act. This image is not realistic and often times not even real. Regardless it is something that young girls look up to and aspire to be. They hope to grow up to be pretty, and thin; they aim to be perfect as far as appearance go but learn little about mentality.
Society feels the need to stick to these gender roles and individuals often struggle with being who they really want to be because they are afraid to stand out or be judged. Danielle chose to write about her view of gender and gender roles. She tells that she would love to run around outside and play in the mud with the boys. She later realized that her female friends didn’t want to join her because it wasn’t what girls usually did. Even though she sometimes doubted her behaviour, she didn’t really care. “It baffled me, since it was so fun! Who wouldn’t want to join in?” She just wanted to have fun and be herself, which is what more people should aim for. Danielle informs that reader that her boyfriend doesn’t identify as either male or female, and dresses however they chose and doesn’t, “blink twice if people defy them.” Individuals should be able to dress and act however they wish, and sometimes this takes some exploring, but they shouldn’t feel pressured by society. It is important for us to have this freedom. “Gender is not one or two things; it can be as many things as you want it to be. Meeting them, learning about them, and in turn loving them, changed my perspective of gender.” When meeting new people, we need to have this type of mentality. One should be able to identify however they want and without judgement. overall, one’s physically appearance really should not affect our opinion of them. It’s their personality the should make the difference.
Furthermore, Jocelyn King’s story really inspired me. She described her morning routine for her first day of grade nine. She gets up early in the morning, excited to get ready and to make herself look and feel beautiful. She spends a long time on hers makeup but feels strong and empowered by doing so. When she looks at herself after she’s finsihed, she states, “I feel as stunning as I look.” The makeup gives her confidence and makes her feels ready to take on the day. “My mom tells me I look beautiful and I felt my nervous slightly calm.” Many people see being a woman as meaning that all you care about is your looks and that you are weaker gender. However, Jocelyn lets the reader know how being a woman and putting on makeup made her feel strong, capable, and ready to conquer the day.
Just as being born a female doesn’t make you weak, being a man and choosing to play with a “girls” toy doesn’t make you any lesser of a person. Children should be given the option to play with whatever toys they want and dress how they wish. As they grow and mature, the standards to confide to society’s view of gender should not be forced upon them. People should be free to express themselves in whatever ways they want as long as they’re not doing harm to others. Whether they chose do to this through the length of their hair, the way the dress, or what games they like to play, that is their choice and they deserve to be respected for it.