Just started my women’s writer class and this week we had to evaluate gender stereotypes. This was a fun one for me soooo, I thought I would share what I posted. 🙂
I like the assignment for this first week and after doing some research and giving it all some long and hard thought, I’m fascinated, and kind of ashamed of my own gender. This week we were supposed to take a deeper look at feminine and masculine stereotypes and that got me thinking on what a stereotype really is, and the first thing that came to mind was generalization. It think that’s the basis of creating a stereotype. Example: “All Asians are horrible drivers.” “Men drive better than women.” “All men want is sex.” “Every Arab owns a 7/11.” “All Black people are loud and ignorant.” That last one made me laugh. Okay, so now you’re getting the idea I’m trying to portray.
When you get into looking at gender stereotypes I fell as though there are two things you have to look at: home stereotypes vs media stereotypes.
Growing up I was a huge tomboy. I mean I could climb trees, wrestle, and play hide and seek with the best of them. I didn’t like to wear dresses or those fancy, shiny shoes that pinched your toes, scuffed your ankle, and God forbid you got them dirty. I liked wearing jeans, overalls, and a very comfortable pair of worn tennis shoes. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times my grandmother and aunt would say to me, “a lady doesn’t do that.” That is literally, in all seriousness, what they would say. I was taught that a lady should be graceful, and nurturing, and sweet, and innocent. I was also taught that women don’t swear and from my great grandmother, women were meant to be seen and not heard. We were supposed to be passive. Now her I just didn’t believe outright because she grew up in a very different era. All of these things, when it comes to gender stereotypes, I would classify as home stereotypes.
On the other side of it (and when I was younger well, it baffled the crap out of me), my brother was raised completely different than my sister and I were. He was encouraged to do all the things I wanted to do like playing outside until dark and going off with his friends to wherever. He was the one who got to learn how to hunt and fish. He got to date an earlier age than my sister and I did, and was openly encouraged to flirt and have fun. He had a certain freedom that my sisters and I never had, however, the flip side to that was that the family was harder on him than they were on us. My sister and I got gentle scolding while my brother was yelled. And who can forget the classic, “Men don’t cry.” Once again, home stereotypes.
Now, as much as our parents would like it, we don’t stay home forever. We don’t stay children forever. We grow up and we experience more of the world, and this is where media stereotypes get plugged into our pliable little heads.
The first time I got a zing of media stereotypes was from my mom’s book collection. She had a lot of romance novels and I was an avid reader. From the first book I read, I was in love with the romantica world. It’s only now that I’m older do I realized that these books were the epitome of gender stereotypes. They should just rename the genre “gender stereotypes with the added bonus of sex.” The women in these stories were painted as these pitiful and weak damsels in distress who need a man, the strapping, super fit and ridiculously handsome, rich love interest, to come and save them….give them purpose.
Did you see what I just said? I’ll say it again for added effect. Women: Pitiful, weak, damsel in distress. Men: physically fit, rich, handsome, strong. Ergo, princess, meet knight in shining friggin’ armor.
But that was at a young age and as I grew older, a new stereotype for women started to immerge. It said that all women were, or had to be, these flirtatious sex pots who use their feminine wiles to get what they want, but they still also had to have a hint of innocence to them. I love, love, LOVE using Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” as an example because it’s perfect! Literally dozens of men are vying for this woman’s attention and the symbolism is used as them offering her paper hearts (cause you know…hearts symbolism for love) and she’s chastising them with a firm yet flirtatious, “no.” And then she starts to sing, saying that kiss on the hand may be continental, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Evaluate that. Kissing a woman on the hand a sign of respect, and dear old Marilyn is saying, “hey yeah I mean respect is nice, but know what’s better than you respecting me? Expensive gifts.” The song goes on with other horrible lyrics but the ones that stick out to me that I just didn’t pay attention to before talk about having an employer that is interested in you sexually, but if he ain’t ponying up those expensive gifts well then you’re just not playing along. What?
Let’s not forget that a stereotype is only a stereotype because there is some, if not a lot of truth to it. It’s a majority thing, people. If 7 out of 10 woman are gold digging, sexual deviants…then…well…all women are gold digging, sexual deviants.