Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Tips on Avoiding Gender Stereotyping

It’s already 2020 and, despite the real progress we’re making as a collective social group, gender stereotyping is still certainly a prominent issue. What is gender stereotyping? Well, the concept of stereotyping by gender has been around since the beginning of time. But, way back when, people sat back and took it because they felt like they didn’t have a choice. 

A quick search on the meaning of this particular type of stereotyping provides us with descriptions and definitions along the lines of gender stereotyping being “standardized representations of men and women within a culture, particularly in the mass media, which polarize differences between the sexes, notably in their physical appearance, traits, behaviours, and occupations”. In essence, society will tell you that if you’re a man, you should act as such; manly, strong, emotionally stunted etc… etc. If you’re a woman, then you are to be ultimately feminine and only do the jobs that you are ‘suited’ to you as a female.

Whilst, these days, people are much more open-minded and a lot more aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping, there are still those out there who will go out of their way to convince you that you are only supposed to work specific jobs or enjoy certain hobbies or live your life a specific way according to your gender. In this article, you will find three top tips on how to avoid or break out of this caged way of living. 

Image Credit: Pexels. Free To Use License
Ignore the Mass Media!         

The mass media is full of pitfalls and traps to lure you into thinking you’re not good enough the way you are. Tabloids, magazines, even certain social media sites will use their presence and influence to tear down celebrities for their appearance and show you, as the reader, that you should work harder on your body; invest more money into twisted diet products to lose more weight; use more expensive make-up and so on. All so you can be ‘better’ than the celebrity they are shaming on their front cover. 

This way of naming and shaming that has become a dangerous norm amongst platforms of the mass media. The use of gender stereotyping tactics as part of this process is part of what makes it so unhealthy to read about. According to them, *insert name* isn’t wearing any make-up on her venture out and doesn’t look like a woman anymore! Oh, *insert name* is sporting the Dad bod now; where did his manly physique go? The mass media will tell you that certain body types are either feminine or manly. If you’re body type doesn’t fit the one associated with your gender, then you need to ‘fix’ it, using weight loss or make-up products they get paid to promote.

In order to get away from this toxic way of thinking, it is important to ignore anything that brings a sense of negativity about someone’s appearance or, even, anything related to their gender. Only follow and seek those who promote things like good vibes and body positivity. This way, you won’t be made to feel like you aren’t worthy because you don’t conform to society’s gender stereotypes.

Go for the Career That YOU Want

As stated in the definition above, part of stereotyping by gender is tailoring it by occupation. Throughout time, working went from being only something men would do, to women being able to work, to being segregated by gender. For example; jobs that require physical strength were deemed as occupations that only men could do (let alone should). Jobs that involved anything associated with femininity; children, fashion or nursing, became types of work that only women should be allowed to do. 

Thankfully, the workplace is becoming infinitely more varied in who is doing what job. Men can be nurses. Women can be financial tycoons. Anyone can be a lawyer, teacher, politician or fashion designer, so long as they have the skills and put the work in. Yet, there are still people who frown at the idea of a woman being a builder or a man being a childcare specialist. This tip, as well as the other nuggets in this article, are about encouraging you to choose the career path you want to go down, despite stereotypes about whatever gender you associate yourself with. Find a passion, work hard at it and never stop learning. This tip actually goes hand in hand with the next and last one.

Juggling a Career and Kids - Who Says You Can’t?

One thing that has been reinforced throughout this post is that we, as social beings, have come a long way in terms of change for the better and true acceptance of each other. There’s no denying that. However, one topic that is arguably still one of the most debated topics is that of working after having kids. In these times, it is, more often than not, a necessity. Yet, there are arguments over how long a new mother should be on maternity leave for; whether she should go back to work at all, and so on. Even a father’s role is a hot topic up for debate, with people arguing over aspects from a father choosing to be a stay-at-home parent to the necessity of paternity leave at all. This is all derived from the commonality of gender stereotyping in the world of parenting.

People seem to be particularly keen to judge a new parent’s every move, especially on the internet. If they have a large presence online or have a significant amount of influence, then they are a bigger target for judgement on their parental decisions. Comments about returning to work too soon or leaving their kids (in safe hands) to go on a short holiday are found across the board. New parents have enough to deal with, so why are there those who feel the need to highlight everything they are supposedly doing wrong?

If you’re a new parent, or even an long-time parent, debating whether to return to work; ask yourself this. Would returning to work benefit you, both as a parent and a person? If the answer is yes, then who says you can’t? Even if it’s part time instead of your usual full time hours; if you know you can do something for you that won’t affect too much of the time you get to spend with your kids, why shouldn’t you go back to work? This tip is designed to encourage you to find a balance between being a parent but not letting it define who you are, if you don’t want it to. 

For your own sanity. For the sake of your mental health. For the sake of your happiness, don’t let society’s habit of gender stereotyping affect the decisions you make on how to live.


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