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Holly Keaton
Ms. Gardner
English 10 Honors, Period 0
30 October 2014
Pink and Blue Cages
Boys will be boys. Be more ladylike. Dont play with that, thats for girls. Wouldnt you
rather play with a doll instead, honey?
You have all heard some form of these phrases at least once in your life. From the
moment we first open our eyes to the world to our very last breath, gender roles dictate what we
can and cannot wear, what we can and cannot play with, who we can and cannot be. These rules
dominate from a very young age--even just 24 hours after birth, parents have different
expectations of boys and girls. (Witt). Girls grow up believing that they have to be nurturing,
passive, dependent on a male--boys learn that showing emotion is weak and being like a girl is
the worst thing you can be. Girls learn they are worth less; boys find they can never be enough.
For my entire life I have been bombarded by the biased media, causing me at the age of
eleven to believe I was ugly because I didnt fit the unattainable Barbie doll image. Ive been
told that I cant play football with the boys because Im too weak to handle it. As a girl, I see
and feel the effects of gender roles constantly. Boys feel their effects too--studies show teenage
boys commit suicide at five times the rate that teenage girls do (Health). The tragedy is not that
society continues to make these rules, but that these rules continue to make society.
For thousands of years, these roles have dictated humanity. Even just fifty years ago girls
were supposed to stay at home and be housewives, and the expectations of masculinity were
even higher for boys. While society may have grown more accepting, accepting differences is

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still not commonplace. Gender roles continue to take over the beliefs of schools, parents, and
friends, so that even the thought of a boy liking the color pink horrifies and repulses. Gender
roles force us to hide certain aspects of ourselves, and shame us for not conforming to the
stereotypes. They are a tyranny that seeps into our everyday lives, often without us noticing it. If
we do not free ourselves from these heavy chains, their weight will soon become too much to
All of us, intentionally or not, are guilty of perpetrating these beliefs. We have grown up
believing so wholeheartedly in them that it can be difficult to train ourselves to think differently.
But progress can be made: as a society, we can change things. Even in our day-to-day lives, we
can change things. Dont ridicule that girl for being a tomboy--shes still a girl, and she doesnt
need to be put in a separate box. Dont laugh at that boy for liking to knit, or do ballet, or write
poetry.Tell girls that their value is not based on their looks, that they are as good as any boy.
Teach boys that its okay to have emotions.
To those who would cry out that the world is fine, that this is how its supposed to be, I
urge you to consider why these traits are gender-specific. Why is a girl supposed to be
emotionally sensitive? Why cant boys be nurturing and caring? If these traits are so natural, then
why do boys and girls all over continue to suffer damage to their self-esteem and emotional
state? Hundreds of years of gender bias and stereotypes continues to affect us today, but we are
not the same society as the one of a thousand years ago, or a hundred, or even fifty. Humans have
adapted and evolved, and we have to continue to do so. When we are stuck at a standstill, there
are no new brilliant discoveries, no amazing feats of skill and determination, no progress. One
thousand years ago people believed the earth was flat, and now we laugh at them. Whos to say
that a thousand years from now people wont laugh at the todays ridiculous stereotypes?

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Of course it wont be easy to change our views, but it needs to be done.. Because boys
cannot be sensitive; because girls are never superheroes; because there is a toy aisle for boys and
a toy aisle for girls; because societys impossible standards make teenagers commit suicide;
because women still arent taken seriously in the workplace; because boys doing anything
remotely female is still taboo; because young girls starve themselves to look like the women in
the magazines; because if he isnt a macho man he is worthless; because she will spend her
childhood wondering why shell never be as egood as a boy; because it is the 21st century and
males and females are still being told who they can and cannot be--its time for society to free
ourselves, boys and girls alike, from our pink and blue cages.

Works Cited
"Health." Gender Roles, Information about Gender Roles. Advameg, Inc., 2014. Web. 02 Nov.
Witt, Susan D. "Witt." Witt. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

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