Gender roles determine a lot for you before you even have a say in them. When you’re a baby, chances are your room’s theme is either a pink one or a blue one, and when your parents picked out your clothes when you were little, it’s a safe bet you wore dresses or frills at least sometimes, right? And people probably bought you dolls for your birthday or holidays, because, hey, you’re a girl!
Thing is, with the way gender roles are in society, as you got older, if you wanted to wear pants and play sports, people probably didn’t even blink. But think about gender roles for guys: If a guy in your school tried out for the ballet or dance team, some people might raise an eyebrow at him. And if he wears lip gloss or a dress? Forget it.
A new article that we’d love you to take a gander at sheds a lot of light on gender roles, gender identity, and gender fluidity–because not everyone born a boy feels like being what people expect from a boy all the time, and not everyone born with lady bits feels like being what people expect from a girl all the time. It’s incredibly important to show tolerance and accept people for who they are, not what society’s gender roles expects them to be–especially when you consider how those same gender roles, describing what’s masculine and what’s feminine, have changed throughout history. Did you know that back in the day pink was considered a strong and masculine color, while blue was seen as girly and delicate? Or that boys wore dresses pretty often? It kind of drives the point home that gender roles are more used to make sense of our surroundings, but ultimately, over time, become sort of irrelevant, don’t they?
Girls are awesome (obvs!), but part of why boys who wear dresses or act feminine are often looked down on is because females are still seen, for whatever idiotic reason, as the weaker sex (granted it’s ignorant, chauvinistic people who feel this way). Gender roles are also part of what’s behind the fact that you probably make less than a man with the same exact job!
You’d be wise not to bully or be cruel to someone for any reason, but especially not for their lack of adherence to a gender role–because you don’t know his or her life or what he or she and their families have been through in dealing with that. Chances are they’ve been picked on at home or put through a slew of therapy with mom and dad.
It’s also pretty important to remember and to try to understand that just because a guy may be into eyeliner or skirts doesn’t mean he necessarily sees himself as a girl. He could just be a dude who likes eyeliner (remember when Pete Wentz was relevant?). Get to know people as people, not as images nor as examples of particular gender roles. The guy with long pink hair may be an awesome boyfriend. The girl with the buzzcut may have killer style. The danger of gender roles is that gender roles can stifle individuality.
And let’s be real: as long as you want your right to wear jeans respected (not that long ago women were SO not allowed to wear pants!), it’d be pretty hypocritical to pick on a dude for wearing a prom dress. Society and gender roles don’t determine who you are: You do.
Do you think gender roles are damaging to individuality? Do you think gender roles are helpful or harmful? Have you ever struggled with gender roles or knew someone who did? Tell us in the comments!