It’s Time To Question Gender Roles In Our Society
- July 22, 2018
- Posted by: Administrator
- Category: Uncategorized
Not too long ago, a powerful public service video gripped the media channels with the tagline Boys dont cry (Larkay rotay nahi hain). During this short clip, various instances of mens lives were shown of when they were told almost standoffishly by those around him, that boys dont cry, during times of fear or unhappiness or even in moments of joy. The process starts right down from childhood and continues well onto their adult lives, until they have learned to suppress their emotions to an extent that they become immune to that of others. The video ended with the message that perhaps instead of teaching our boys not to cry, it would be better to teach them not to make others cry, after a man was shown physically hurting a woman who sat there sobbing with a bruised face, while he stared ahead impassively.
The video serves as a brilliant example of how the concept of gender roles is introduced to us right from childhood. Ever since we reach an age where we are able to communicate and understand things, we are told how to act depending on our gender. The desired behavior one expects from young boys as opposed to young girls is quite distinguishable, and by constantly reminding them about their apparent differences, we ensure that the gender roles are deeply instilled in them. However, one must not forget that these roles are social constructs. In particular, the way gender socializing takes place greatly affects how we behave with members of the same and the opposing gender, and is a direct result of the expectations held by the society regarding this behavior.
The term sex refers to the physical differences of the body; biological and anatomical. Gender, however, relates to the psychological, social, and cultural differences. Over the years, male and female stereotypes have been created and polished by us. Looking past the physical differences between the two, we ourselves are responsible for coining the very words masculinity and femininity, and assigning both categories distinguishable traits. Men are generally assumed to be more aggressive and carefree-supposedly the stronger sex-whereas women are expected to be more passive and nurturing. There’s a generally accepted concept of how the males are supposed to be the breadwinners of the family, working long hours, and the females are supposed to be the nurturers and home-makers. And the stereotyping does not end here. Be it at home, school or at the workplace, men and women are expected to behave differently in all surroundings, and non conformity of these implications leads to animosity within the community.
We encourage our girls to play with dolls and kitchen utensils, because after all, that’s what they’re supposed to do when they grow up: cook and look after the kids. We encourage boys to play sports and be outdoors-y, even if they resent it, because, well, thats how boys are supposed to behave. In school, boys may be allowed to be cheeky and less worried about their studies, but girls are usually expected to be more disciplined and focused in their work. It is okay for a girl to wear a pink shirt but heaven forbid should a boy wear it, hell be raising a lot of eyebrows. This is precisely how it all starts. From a very young age, children are exposed to the dos and donts of the society, allotting them certain roles based on their gender, and this process then continues over ones lifetime.
Nobody was born with a rulebook telling them how to act and what to do. There were no specific roles assigned to us at birth. It is the society that has placed such rigid expectations on how one is to behave, that it has become nearly impossible to break away from them. We alone are responsible for the gender roles and stereotypes, and the gender inequalities that exist. In the end, we end up sticking to our gender roles-partly because we see no harm; partly out of fear of being labeled as non-conformists-letting our social constructs get the better of us. It has been the case for years, and it will remain to be for many more. After all, men do not cry.
By: Maryam Alavi
Cover Image: Via huffingtonpost.com