A few days ago I walked into a room where some of my friends were discussing gender roles and sexism. I joined in saying that stereotypes are no more than a relic. After all, I have witnessed men being more emotional than women and many more examples reinforcing this belief. Yet, when I shared this, I was met with ‘He should’ve been more manly’. How can we still think like this? How can we still believe that we must behave according to some tiny boxes labelled ‘man’ and ‘woman’ when there are nearly 7.5 billion different versions of us??
Let me light a candle for ambience, play the famous Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist TED talk for strength, get a glass of wine just because I like it and share my thoughts…
While women like to go on about how much tougher life is for us, Samaritans reported that the highest suicide rate last year was for men (three times higher than women!). Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to diminish the troubles that women face…God and my friends know, I am the first one to complain about my uterus killing me from the inside. However, things for men are obviously rough too.
Now, many ladies would say that there is still gender pay gap, sexism,etc. And while I experienced sexism at the workplace first hand, it was at the workplace! While with certain challenges and in an imperfect world, women can get jobs just like men. We can choose the career path and men can choose the family path. We are possibly the first generation with this luxury, so let’s appreciate what we have.
It is also true that women can get carried away with their emotions – but so can men. Since women are forced to live through hormone induced mood swings, we are more used to dealing with our emotions and we usually have a few good girlfriends for ‘therapy sessions’. Men often don’t have that and they are also pressured to appear strong and manly. So, when the emotions finally come out, it’s almost like an eruption of a volcano.
Seems like stereotypes are definitely outdated on both career and emotional fronts.
I must admit I am ashamed though…. Here I am, trying to show how similar men and women are but…I want a man to make the first move. Whether it is him coming to talk to me in a bar or saying the L word for the first time, I want him to do it first (for the record, I don’t have a problem making the 2nd, 3rd or 4th step myself). I argue that this is because I want a man who is strong enough to go for what he wants, but is this the truth? Or do I want this because I have been taught that if I do it, I will be viewed not as proactive and passionate, but as slutty and desperate? I am still searching for an answer to this one.
The bottom line for me is that the journey towards being free of stereotypes has come a long way – stereotypes are largely not relevant anymore – but is still not finished. We are all human, we all have emotions, wants, needs and hardships. We are most definitely not perfect, but very similar in our basic nature, so let’s be kind, compassionate and understanding to one another. Being different is not a crime. Making choices based on our deepest wishes, should be OK. For everyone.