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1 Am I pink, blue, or an individual?

Since 1848, with the Womens Rights Movement, many women have been fighting society in order to become equals with men. Yet, still today, men hold more power in the world. The reason for this is because of the stereotypes forced upon both genders. Children are unavoidably taught from the beginning the different roles men and women play in society, both physically and mentally. The idea of patriarchy just wont fully go away. The moment human beings are born they are categorized. A lot of hospitals used to, and some still do today, put different colored hats on newborns after they get cleaned up. The girls would get a pink hat and the boys would get blue. At this point in their life, babies have no control over these decisions, let alone even know what is happening. But by the time a child gets to be a little older and develops the capability of determining certain choices for themselves, like what colors to wear and whether to play with dolls or trucks, its too late. Certain stereotypes have been established. As children are socialised by parents, peers or teachers, they begin to develop categories about gender that lead to the development of gender roles and gender stereotypes. These early behaviours are important because they may be precursors of later behaviours and they may influence adult occupational choices (Cherney par 2). Sure, parents can do all they want at home in order to let the child choose for themselves how they want to live, but there is also school, media, and playmates to worry about when it comes to influencing the child. It is unavoidable. There is an argument against this theory, stating that humans are not influenced by societys definition of the roles each gender should play, but that they are simply

2 born with some of these stereotypical traits. An example would be that since women, by nature, are the ones that give birth to the child, it is in their genetics to care for the child while the father assumes the responsibility of working outside of the household to return with the necessities to provide for his family. A study was done to question this argument. Male and female children, aged three to five, were given, both, gender biased toys, and gender-neutral toys to play with. The results of the study showed that, on average, the children played with the neutral toys significantly longer than they played with the toys that were gender biased (Cherney par 1). So it is clearly not just in a females nature to mother baby dolls and pretend to vacuum the house. Children are not born doing these things. As they grow older, they simply learn from society that these actions are what help to define them as a female, and not a male. Feminism causes a great power struggle. When women want to erase the stereotypes that separate them from men, it can cause a problem. Those separate stereotypes for men and women are what help define the differences between both genders. So, if they were completely gone, then humans would be left with only physical differences determining both genders. The stereotypes are there to set the norm of society. Therefore, rising above those generalizations is what makes a person an individual. Addressing gender problems is a particular case of changes in societys ideas about the norms of human existence, which for a very long time had been thought to be dictated by nature (Kliucho 16-17). Even so, when stereotypes go so far as demonstrating inequality between genders, in a situation that should be equal no matter what the gender is, something should be said. There is no reason for a woman to perform

3 the same job as a man and get paid less for it, based on being a female. If society truly believes that a womans job is in the household, then women should consider a new approach. Across the country, activist mothers are starting to protest. Since well-raised children are the foundation of society, good child rearing should be considered just as valuable economically as paid work, they argue (Glazer 27). This idea creates a whole new look on gender inequality and it provides an argument for those women who are maintaining a household, while working another job that is paying females less than males. Will gender stereotypes ever go away? The answer to that question is, It depends. The stereotypes that are portrayed in this day in age might change, but there will always be certain gender stereotypes as long as humans practice them. For centuries women have faced discrimination, lower social status, and limitations in the roles offered to them, oftentimes because of the stereotypes associated with being female. The research presented offers one possible explanation as to why women would willingly take on elements of these stereotypesit is because of the lay theories they hold about their own gender (Coleman 49). If women would rather shatter some of the glass ceilings above them, instead of just cracking them, then actions need to go hand in hand with the words that are spoken. This requires, not only, for men to not stereotype women and women to not stereotype men, but also for each gender to not lay stereotypes on themselves, or their own gender category. The patriarchy of this cultural society has even gone as far as deeming that men are faster, stronger, and better than women in sports. This stereotype causes the female athletes to be overlooked. Unfortunately, when those women do receive recognition by

4 gaining a spot in the media, the same stereotype, a lot of the time, just gets enhanced even further. There are more and more images of women athletes that bear alarming resemblances to soft pornography. What you see is an emphasis, not on their athleticism and their athletic achievements, or on their mental courage and toughness, but on their sexuality, their femininity, and their heterosexuality (Kane 471). Its not enough for women to be strong athletes, conquer the stereotype of their own gender, and become physical competition to their opposing gender. In order for them to be noticed by more people, they have to appeal to the stereotypical feminine qualities of being vulnerable and sexy. It must be assumed that since certain gender stereotypes are not just going away, the majority of people either must be okay with them, or they are not important enough to spend time on changing. The change comes with the people. Women have certain rights today because people in the past spoke up. They were not ok with how things were. Change comes with the people, but some people dont want change. Certain stereotypes have been defined by society as attractive. Those who possess those stereotypes would not want them to change because it has bettered their level of attractiveness. Therefore, instead of putting the stereotype to rest, it becomes exaggerated. It becomes an indicator as to what makes a man, a man, and what makes a woman, a woman. It just so happens that certain stereotypes, over many years, have put men in charge of society, in return, creating a society that is based on the idea of patriarchy. Traits like strength, focus, boldness, reliability, intelligence, confidence, and rationality, are all ideal characteristics of a good leader. Unfortunately, even though

5 women can be all of those things, that stereotype was given to men. Certain traits like tenderness, compassion, fragility, shyness, and faithfulness have all contributed to the stereotype of women. Somewhere down the line, these stereotypes were established for each gender creating the idea that men should hold the power. Both genders know that anyone can demonstrate, some, or all of these characteristics, but there becomes a fine line between knowing something and growing up being taught something completely different. Even after the Womens Rights Movement, women today are still fighting to be equals with men. Nature creates physical differences between genders, but humans create the imagined ones. Certain gender stereotypes may come and go through the years, but the decision of which ones in particular is up to the people. As long as some people favor certain stereotypes, for either gender, those stereotypes will continue to be passed on to the next generation. Stereotypes are not bound to humans by nature; they are created later in life to benefit that individual. A baby boy does not immediately favor the color blue, nor does a baby girl immediately favor the color pink. Those colors are just representations of the differences, either true or stereotyped, for each gender. What sets a person apart from their color is what makes them an individual. Individuality is what gives a person the ability to see past what society defines as normal and determine what it is they want to be themselves.

Works Cited Cherney, Isabelle D., and Jessica Dempsey. Young Childrens Classification; Stereotyping and Play Behaviour for Gender Neutral and Ambiguous Toys. Educational Psychology 30.6 (2010): 651-69. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

7 Coleman, Jill M., and Ying-Yi Hong. Beyond Nature vs. Nurture: The Influence of Lay Gender Theories on Self-Stereotyping. Self & Identity 7.1 (2008): 34-53. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Oct. 2011. Glazer, Sarah. Mothers Movement: Should Moms Be Reimbursed for Staying at Home? CQ Press 13.13 (2003): 1-32. CQ Researcher. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. Kane, Mary Jo, and Pat Griffin, and Michael Messner Playing Unfair. The Media Education Foundation. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson, 2011. 468-475. Print. Kliucho, O.I. Gender Stereotyping In Studying Pressing Social Problems. Russian Social Science 52.2 (2011): 16-32. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.