They say gender stereotypes exist for a reason, might be true. After all, generations of doll makers otherwise wouldn’t have known the artistry of distinct segments of masculine and feminine toys. By now I might have given you the impression of this being yet another article about shattering stereotypes and promoting unisex toys or gender defiant lifestyle. While I consider myself an avid supporter of the idea of shattering stereotypes, this is more of an introspective piece that stems from me putting a light on mine and a lot of our inherent hypocrisy as a result of trying to evolve from the prior set notions about the masculine and feminine habits.
Not so cool…is it?
I remember as an 11 year old, I was peer pressured into having to sleep with a teddy bear because apparently that is what girls do. My mother was seriously unhappy about this newly developed habit of mine as she was the one who would find the teddy bear lying on the floor next morning smeared in dust and would also have to tend to my severe dust allergies out of trying to cuddle with that dusty soft toy just because it was considered cool. As I got a bit older, I realized that the trends had changed and being tomboyish was the new cool. Suddenly all my female friends had denounced their love for pink and began picking up swear words for that is what made them popular. While this may sound very similar to a rant in the opening credits of a high school movie, the point is that shattering gender stereotypes has become more about following a trend than embracing your true self.
New-age gender stereotypes
Weirdly enough, instead of breaking the dogmas of the age old gender stereotypes, we have created new stereotypes which have far less to do with acceptance and more so with idealizing a certain notion of how the modern woman should be. Creating a certain sense of paradox that circulates us and creating new stereotypes, the shackles of which will be haunting the generations to come. Enjoying domestic chores or wanting to be a homemaker for a woman is somehow outdated now. My intention here is not to undermine the career minded ambitious women, but to take a stand for those whose ambitions are not on par with modern up-keeping. Yet on further introspection, the very fact that I chose to put distinct labels on women based on their life goals or the very fact that it is hard for me to imagine that these habits and goals could coincide, reflects on the impact of our so-called “new-age” thinking, proving the very point I have been trying to make so far.
Choice, an inadequately conceived notion?
As a young girl or as a grown woman I would prefer to do certain things without being categorized within the gender stereotypes of masculine or feminine. I might choose to play with cars while having a sincere affection for the color pink, or in the context of more pressing social issues, I might choose to leave my job to tend to my newborn infants or terminate my pregnancy as it would not coincide with the demands of my career ambitions. The key word here being “my choice”.
It would be wrong to just associate the phrase “my choice” to a feminist uprising, but it should be the motto of every single person’s life without them having to be classified into non-conformist gender fluid individuals or straight heterosexual men.
Gender stereotypes: the beauty in versatility
As a marketing professional I do understand the importance of stereotypes in gauging customer behavior patterns. Hence I could never deny the validity of stereotypes, after all they are quite effective in charting a consumer persona and narrowing down your target audience. I also believe that stereotypes have and will exist for a reason. But having to adhere and not adhere to them should be out of one’s own free will. And we as a society must raise above typecasting every individual. As children we were told that we are all perfect in our own unique way, somehow as we grew up this versatility of our traits lost its value and the complexities of life made us conform to strict pre-set notions in order to gain our place in society. Having forgotten that every major step that led to the shaping of our society has been brought about by someone being unabashedly true to one’s own self.