From a very young age we are fed subliminal messages telling us that men are strong and outgoing, yet women should be quiet and amiable.
It's strangely a bit more acceptable to be introverted if you're a girl. Boys are encouraged to be adventurous, athletic and bold. Girls are thought of as caring, conscientious and tender.
I could rant about gender stereotypes til the cows come home but I'll (try to) stick to the relevance for introverts.
Have you ever noticed that women who speak their mind or take on management roles are labelled as "bossy"? But a man in such a role is strong.
That men make competant leaders, athletes and builders, while women are more suited to be teachers, nurses and secretaries?
That men who cry are weak, it's their role to console and comfort the women in their lives?
Lies. All lies.
If you're a guy and want to be the little spoon, you go ahead and be the little spoon. If you want to hug your mates, if you want to cry, if you want to work with young children, if you want to wear glitter, if you want to read a book instead of kicking a football, if you want to paint instead of wrestle, if you want to play with dolls... Then do it!
If you're a girl and you want to go boxing, if you want to shave your head, if you want to be an engineer, if you want to play rugby... Do it!
You are not confined by your gender. You can be who you want to be.
If you are neither gender, then embrace your individuality and be whoever you want to be.
If you feel born to the wrong gender, embrace whoever you want and need to be.
This gender pressure that comes at us from all sides can have serious consequences on our self belief and identity. I felt bad for years because I see myself as a tomboy and thus I am unattractive, weird. I have been called ugly, frumpy, and even been assumed to be a lesbian (as if your sexuality gives you a certain look. Sometimes, humanity, I swear you evolved from lemmings).
Today, the gender stereotypes we feed children is much worse than when I was a kid. In the 90s, clothes were almost unisex in design. I grew up with Lara Croft and Xena Warrior Princess. I played with Polly Pocket yet also had a collection of trains. I had a dolls house but also a castle with knights.
In a toy store these days, toys are seperated by gender. The girls' aisle is pink, pink, pink. Full of unicorns, mermaids, makeup sets, dress up dolls. Not a squirt gun or science set in sight. Even Lego now has a range specifically for girls. These toys are focused on altering appearances (combing the unicorns hair, putting makeup on the doll). In contrast...
The boys' aisle has action figures of wrestlers and super heroes. Science kits with gunge. Water pistols, trucks. In fact, alot of boys toys encourage violence.
There is no reason a girl can't play with boys toys or vice versa, but the packaging is often aimed at specific genders, with photos of boys on the boy toys and yeah, you get me. This clearly shows who the intended consumer is.
Clothes aren't much better. Slogans abound boys tshirts like:
Think outside the box
Girls clothes have slogans like:
Pretty as a princess
Next top model
Why are we teaching kids this garbage? It severely impacts their mental health if they can't conform to these roles. It limits our aspirations as we grow older, limiting our career choices.
I've seen mothers who have several sons saying they want a girl so they can do "girl things together". I've seen fathers tell their sons they can't buy that doll, "it's a girls toy, here, have this football."
Why do we encourage boys to run about like hooligans, climbing trees and play fighting, but little girls are encouraged to sit quietly and comb the hair of their dolly, or play with a plastic vacuum cleaner?
Why are boys accepted as being outgoing but girls are genteel?
It extends right into adulthood. Many successful sportswomen are mocked as being masculine. Their muscular bodies are unattractive, their victory celebrations not feminine enough (punching a fist in the air should not have a gender bias. Sportswomen shouldn't be expected to twirl and wave graciously of they don't want to).
Sportsmen, especially rugby players or boxers, are ridiculed when they reveal they have suffered depression.
It's apparently cool for a man to be outspoken and to swagger with confidence, to spread his seed among multiple women. He's a geek if he's still a virgin beyond the age of 18, prefers reading to football and never raises his voice.
And if you're a woman, well... You're a slut if you sleep around and a prude if you don't. If you strut and shake your booty, that's sexy, but if you're shy and a bit of a wallflower, that's adorable!
Men and women, boys and girls, are more alike than we pretend. We both cry when hurt, we are both strong when necessary. But we sometimes hide traits that are supposedly unacceptable.
Boys can be just as studious as girls. It doesn't make them geeks, doesn't make them boring. Being interested in books, art or fashion doesn't make them feminine. Men are introverts too.
Girls can be just as adventurous and athletic as boys. Being into sport, mathematics or cars doesn't make them butch. Women can be extroverts too.
Be whatever the heck you wanna be.
Be your own damned hero/heroine.
Have you ever felt pressured into doing something gender specific?
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Thoughts on life, the universe and everything through the eyes of an introvert. Ideas on misconceptions, society pressures, and the very real struggle of life itself, written by an introverted thinker with a wattpad account. Thoughtful? You bet Funn...