The Voice


The Voice


The Voice

“Gender Appropriate” should be thrown away: Be who you are, Act how you want

“You’re a man, you can’t be crying! Toughen up!”

“You’re a woman, you can’t lift that! Get a man to do it!”

“You have a [insert genitalia] so you have to stay the gender and do the things that we tell you go along with that part! You don’t like it? Too bad, so sad, stop being a liberal snowflake and hide your emotions like we did X-number of years ago!”

     All of this and more defines the debate of gender versus sex in today’s world, particularly in the world of American politics. Gender has been a label for so long that it’s causing quite a stir for traditionalists to see those labels changing to accommodate reality: humans are not black and white. Just as there are differences in things like skin tone, height, and sexual orientation, then it would be sensible to agree that there are differences in gender identity from one person to the next. Of course, some people want to cling to those traditions and demand that people conform to them. So, what are some of those traditions that the majority needs to fall into? And yes, you will likely recognize a lot of this as sexist.

      For a lot of people who subscribe to the male/female binary, there are stereotypes that each of the two genders are required to meet in order to be the proper, and if they do the opposite, they’re somehow going to destroy the world as we know it. These stereotypes are destructive to both groups and stifling for people. But if we want to understand why these stereotypes are ridiculous and detrimental, then we should know what they are. For men, they’ve probably heard a lot of these from the time they were little, leaving many confused and lost about how to lead their lives.

     One example is demanding that men have very particular careers that fit into two categories: dirty or authoritative. Dirty careers are often defined as work like construction, mechanics, firefighting; anything outdoorsy that leads to leathery hands and heavy lifting. Otherwise, they should be authority figures, like lawyers, doctors, CEOs, or any field that requires technical skills and dominating others, particularly women. But this would have meant that many great and well-known men had no chances in fields like fashion and cosmetology. Marilyn Monroe may never have had her signature look if it hadn’t been for her male makeup artist “Whitey,” and RuPaul has launched countless drag queens and makeup artists into stardom with his show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and appearances on other TV shows. Another example is demanding that men have a specific emotional control that requires them to be stern and emotionless. Even upon the death of a loved one, men are often chastised for showing emotions or being “girly.” Because of this, young men are much less likely to seek help for anxiety, depression, or eating disorders among other serious conditions, and emotional detachment often creates problems in relationships.

     Speaking of relationships, men are taught very counterproductive stereotypes from an early age about how their relationships should go. They should expect and desire sex at all times, but once they get it, they shouldn’t be expected to care for their child. In fact, in marriage, a man should not do any more housework than is required to maintain the structural integrity of the house. He should be working, or watching sports or playing video games during his time off. Research has shown time and again that in marriages where wives do all of the household chores and the raising of the children, they are often overwhelmingly less satisfied and feel more disrespected. This often leads to confrontations, arguments, and inevitably divorce in couples who cannot reconcile these traditional stereotypes with the realities of modern marriages.

     Now for women. We often hear that as women, we cannot do something because we are women. In fact, I myself have heard that quite frequently in recent days, especially in regards to hard labor and heavy lifting. Oftentimes, women are told to get a man to do hard jobs, that they should be consulted only for decorating or other delicate pursuits. It’s highly limiting and unfair, and leaves women with a lot to prove. Still, women are often expected to and raised to enter fields where they’re subservient or remain pretty, such as secretary, nurse, homemaker or other non-technical jobs. This ignores female pioneers like Marie Curie, who discovered radiation and allowed the development of modern X-rays, or Amelia Earnhardt, a female pilot. Women are also mocked for trying to enter hard labor jobs like car repair, or dominating jobs like doctor or CEO or politician, leading women to have many of their important decisions made for them by men.

     Women are also trained from a young age that they’ll be wives and mothers, and should expect to be swept off their feet by Mr. Right, and they should do their best not to nag him and to instead attract him by being pretty and eye-catching. This prioritizes the female appearances and turns women and young girls into objects, while simultaneously shaming them for trying to take control over their own sexuality. Any woman who enjoys sex for anything other than procreation with her husband is to be judged and shamed. Women also can’t do anything that might make them seem masculine, like partaking in rigorous sports or exercise, play video games, or have strong opinions on anything. This is actually contrary to some needs that women have. For example, women genetically tend to have weaker joints, therefore requiring more exercise and more muscle tone to support them, and yet women with muscles are seen as undesirable because “muscles are for men.”

     Gender stereotypes lead to a lot of problems, and also alienate a large portion of the human population. These stereotypes result in qualified men and women abandoning careers and hobbies they’re passionate about for “gender-appropriate” career paths that won’t see them judged or shamed. It results in settling in relationships that aren’t healthy or are one-sided and creating unhappiness in something that should be a lifelong joy. And more than anything, it means that from an early age, children are placed into little boxes by adults and leaving them results in bullying, harassment, and discrimination, all of which all too often lead to high rates of teen drug use and suicide. It’s time to start combating the consequences of gender stereotypes rather than forcing people to wear skin that just doesn’t fit.

     Some men love working on cars, other men love working a pair of heels, and still others can’t work it as a man at all. Some women love baking in the kitchen, some love being elbow deep in surgery, and some just need to be boys to have fun. It’s their lives, their happiness, and it doesn’t degrade a “traditional” family if they live a little differently. It’s time to stop protesting people’s lives, time to stop policing people’s genitalia, and focus on love and empowering our fellow humans to be the best versions of themselves that they can be, regardless of how that looks.

Arianna is a junior Russian and History major. She is a Managing Editor for The Voice.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Arianna Erdman, Author

Comments (0)

All The Voice Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *