Gender Stereotypes: That Have an Influence on People From Their Birth

Gender stereotypes has and always will be an issue in our society. Even with the victory of more rights, it will not negate the fact that stereotypes are part of a functioning society. Whether it is at work or at home, there are specific areas outlined for and by the separate genders. From birth we are separated and stereotyped by our genders and forced into specific roles depending on our gender identity.

There was not a great deal that I believe truly influenced me in regards to my perception of masculine/feminine behaviors, however it is expected that there are inescapable gender stereotypes in today’s society. Growing up I was taught that girls wore skirts, acted in a feminine way, spoke a certain way and was pushed towards all the things girls were supposed to do. Growing up with an older brother it was easy to lean towards more masculine behaviors, even when my mother urged me not to. The media has always portrayed females as petite, dainty and for lack of a better phrase, girly. While there are certain instances depicting a woman partaking in stereotypical female activities. Even in TV shows, there is usually at least one girl shown who fits this description. Typically, if it is a teenage girl, her room is decorated with flowers and is painted pink, she gossips with her friends about boys and other drama and consistently asked to be taken to the mall. This labels a defined stereotype for all girls who watch these shows. Directly impacting their perception on how they should and should not act.

For example, the shows Scrubs and The Simpsons both have high levels of gender stereotyping in their character development. In the original seasons of Scrubs, one of the doctors Eliot is portrayed as a typical female. Her apartment is filled with expensive, girly items, her wardrobe is nothing short of stereotypically female. She uses certain outfits to highlight specific areas of her body in order to appear more desirable. By doing this she feeds into the stereotype that women have to dress a certain way. Also, this suggests to the viewer that women have to use their body in some instances to achieve what they want. Viewers watching this are hence influenced to behave in the same way. But these behaviors are something that is not asked of men nor is it portrayed in TV shows as the way a man would act. This example in Scrubs carries over into their final season when they introduce a new group of med school students. The character Lucy has horse posters and blankets all over her room. She also dresses the same way Eliot does and portrays a role that needs saving more often than not. This reinforces the idea that women need men in order to accomplish certain tasks in their lives.

When looking at The Simpsons, the daughter Lisa is placed in a stereotypical childhood gender role. While her brother Bart is the one who gets in trouble, rides around doing tricks on his skateboard and goofs off in school, Lisa is the exact opposite. She is shown as a bright child who studies hard, loves school, stays out of trouble and behaves the way that most families in our society are stereotypically depicted. She is rarely seen not wearing a skirt and jewelry and is made to fit the assumption that boys get in trouble, girls get good grades and don’t misbehave. While Bart seemingly has the freedom to goof off and get in trouble, Lisa is always shown as extremely dedicated to her school work and is often seen in her room or in the kitchen studying while her mother cooks.

While I had these influences along with influences from my family members growing up, my own behaviors weren’t really affected all that much by gender stereotyping. When I was around 8 I met this girl from my school named Natalie. She was my first real encounter with a girl who was a full out tomboy. Instead of wearing skirts and dresses, she ran around with her triplet brothers in shorts, always had her hair pulled back and acted more like one of the guys than she did the typical girl. She influenced me more than anything into the person I am today. After watching her I woke up to the fact that girls didn’t have to act a certain way. Since then I’ve been more of a tomboy than the expected feminine girl. My own behaviors have stemmed from being friends with mostly guys, hanging out with mostly guys and acting in a tomboyish/gender neutral fashion. This still rings true today, I don’t tend to feed into gossip, I hate shopping, I refuse to wear skirts or dresses and I refuse to put myself in the position where I need someone else to save me. Growing up with a brother and mostly guy friends, I’ve shaped myself in a way that takes out most stereotypical behaviors, instead incorporating my own beliefs and comfort.

When looking at the work force it is known that women tend to get paid less money for the same job than a man would. Simply for being a female. Even with this set back, the accomplishments for women’s rights have skyrocketed since the 1920’s when women’s suffrage was at it’s peak, earning women the right to vote. In a lot of ways, gender stereotyping will always limit my own potential, simply for the fact that there will never not be a stereotyping issue. Even with my relationship currently, there are certain behaviors, such as wearing a lot of make up, taking a long time with my hair and getting ready in general that I feel pressured to assign myself to. It is impossible to expect anything else from our society, as stereotyping is a world wide issue. My potential is tomboy than the expected feminine girl. My own behaviors have stemmed from being friends with mostly guys, hanging out with mostly guys and acting in a tomboyish/gender neutral fashion. This still rings true today, I don’t tend to feed into gossip, I hate shopping, I refuse to wear skirts or dresses and I refuse to put myself in the position where I need someone else to save me. Growing up with a brother and mostly guy friends, I’ve shaped myself in a way that takes out most stereotypical behaviors, instead incorporating my own beliefs and comfort.

When looking at the work force it is known that women tend to get paid less money for the same job than a man would. Simply for being a female. Even with this set back, the accomplishments for women’s rights have skyrocketed since the 1920’s when women’s suffrage was at it’s peak, earning women the right to vote. In a lot of ways, gender stereotyping will always limit my own potential, simply for the fact that there will never not be a stereotyping issue. Even with my relationship currently, there are certain behaviors, such as wearing a lot of make up, taking a long time with my hair and getting ready in general that I feel pressured to assign myself to. It is impossible to expect anything else from our society, as stereotyping is a world wide issue. My potential is severely limited considering that certain job opportunities will be passed over me in order to be given to a man because, he will be more fit for the job.

I used to write for a semi-local newspaper during high school, the place that I worked took kids from numerous high schools and divvied up the stories among us. While there were more females than males, any story that had to do with anything sports related or video game related was always, assigned to a male. This was immensely frustrating because sports writing has always been something that came easily to me, however because I was a female the editor would over look me and assign the story to one of my male counterparts. While this was incredibly frustrating, it was also understandable to a certain point. I understood that they were getting these specific stories because they were male, and I was not.

The pressure to conform to cultural expectations is felt every day. From the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed there is always the unseen pressure to fit in to society’s defined gender roles. While I choose not to let what others want from me influence what I expect from myself, there is still that constant pressure to do what society wants me to do. I believe that society still uphold it’s traditional viewpoints on women and their roles throughout society. We are expected to behave a certain way, look a certain way, work the particular jobs outlined by our gender stereotypes and ultimately find a husband, raise a family for him, keep the house for when he gets home from work, and if we do still work we should have a lower income than out husbands. The pressure to act this way and have these traits and ambitions in life is pressed down on us from day one. Personally, I hold my expectations and opinions of myself higher than the approval of others, however for many this isn’t the case. Many young women are pushed into these roles and let themselves be molded into the stereotypical female that society expects. Neither of these lifestyles is wrong, but we are made to think that the latter is a better lifestyle than the one I choose to indulge in because it better fits societies standards on what a female should and should not do.

While we, as a society, have grown more tolerant and have less of a tendency to cram people into defined gender roles, the issue still persists throughout societies world wide. In our society we are very pressured to look dainty and skinny and dress a certain way. Whether this way is for the women wearing them or the visual pleasure of the men around them, regardless we still conform to these same gender stereotypes in today’s society. We also face repression in the ways we act, many still holding on to the traditional views on how women should or should not act. We are taught from an early age what is and is not acceptable for our gender. This permanently warps our view on gender roles and forces us to grow up conforming to societies beliefs on what behaviors are and are not acceptable for us to partake in.

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