Since the beginning of civilization, harmful gender roles have been inadvertently placed on both women and men. Men are expected to be dominate beings while women are expected to be submissive and beneath men socially, financially and politically. Society has labeled women as sensitive, weak, and a sort of possession for men. Males on the other hand had been given the label of being strong leaders since early civilization. When women and men do not conform to these labels in the 21st century, they are seen as either homosexual or just abnormal. These societal norms have placed unnecessary stress on people to conform to society’s standards. Most of these norms are taught to children by people around them as they grow up. Once these children are taught these standards placed on people and how to place labels on people, they grow up and continue spreading and contributing to the harm that is caused by these gender roles. Raising children to be a certain way because of their genders is very harmful and puts pressure on these children to conform. Regardless of their gender, children should be taught and raised the same way.
The stigmas placed on children based on their gender can be mentally, physically and emotionally harmful to both boys and girls over time. Growing up, being constantly told that only little boys can like cars and sneakers and ballet and makeup is for girls stops children from doing what they actually like to do. During adolescence, boys are taught to be tough, athletic political leaders, and a lot of the time misogynistic. They are taught that women are inferior to them, and somewhere along the lines, many learn to objectify women. Being as though women in society have been seen as something to look at and basically an object made for men to benefit off of in every way but financially, these boys that see this will eventually grow up and begin to have this sense of entitlement to women. This sense of entitlement contributes to the rise of rape culture and sexual harassment. These young boys are taught that what they do is okay because “boys will be boys”. They receive justification because of the stigma that they are just being boys. The issue with this is these little boys who got away with hitting another boy at recess or touching a young lady’s behind in class because they are just “being boys”, will later grow into men that think assaulting another man is okay or sexually assaulting a woman is okay because they keep the same little boy mindset. As children, girls also grow up assuming that the things boys do are okay because they are boys and later in life end up thinking the wrongdoings of men are justified because they are men and that is what they do. This is how many women end up in abusive relationships, or sexually harassed and do not report it because they know that society still believes in this stigma that boys will be boys and the judge will dismiss it because they would not want to ruin a young man’s life because of an inferior woman. Both little girls and boys can also grow up believing that because of their genders they are limited to only certain careers, hobbies, choice of life partners, and more. Another large stressor is that boys are taught at a very young age that showing emotion is unattractive, feminine, and weak. This causes males to grow up and become depressed teenagers and men from bottling these feelings inside. The word “girl” itself has been made a negative and used as an insult to men. Telling boys that they throw like girls or fight like girls has a negative effect on young girls who hear that and begin to believe that being a girl means to be weak, emotional, or vain. Each of these stigmas and all of the others place stress and lack of respect for the opposite genders.
Raising and teaching both boys and girls the same way will help eliminate the stigma that has been placed on males and females over time. Instead of teaching children that because they are a boy they must like the color blue and play with trucks or because they are a girl they must like the color pink and play with Barbie dolls, children should be taught to do whatever makes them happy. As the children get older the high school aged teenage girls are taught to save themselves for marriage and practice celibacy while the boys are praised for having multiple girlfriends or sexual partners. This concept is the same as when parents are okay with their sons going out and having multiple females, but they shame their daughters when they begin to consider dating. Teaching and placing these gender roles on children will only continue and further the cycle of teaching others to shame others for not playing the role a male or female should play. Once parents stop applying these standards to their own children, over time the standards will disappear for the most part. Instead of teaching their children to adjust to societal norms and disregard their personal feelings to conform, parents should be teaching them to express themselves and do whatever makes them happy. If every child was taught to respect everyone no matter their gender and teach their future children to do the same, over time there will be generations of people that are breaking and eliminating harmful gender roles.
Stereotypical gender roles are outdated and hindering the self-expression of children as they grow up. Anything that hinders or inhibits the freedom of expression for individuals is harmful and antiquated in today’s 21st century society. Gender norms placed on children inhibit their freedom of self-expression. Societal norms placed on males and females are harmful and outdated in the 21st century.
Many people will say that boys simply cannot be raised the same as girls because each gender is biologically different. While this is true, it is also true that both boys and girls need to know about each other’s bodies and things they go through both mentally and physically in order to respect and understand each other more. With the technology of the 21st century, most men and women are not as biologically different as they were decades ago. There is more equality between what men and women are able to do today more than ever. There are famous female athletes, some stronger than men, and male runway models that out-do many women. Societies gender norms are slowly being eliminated in the 21st century with all of the feminist movements, protests for equality, and more. The most important way to eliminate these harmful stereotypes that both men and women are pressured to conform to need to be eliminated. Raising and teaching boys and girls the same way will help these gender norms vanish over time.
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