Breaking Down the Gender Barriers Begins with Me

Some of you probably read the article by Monica Gallagher Sakala, On Praising Tomboys and Rejecting Feminine Boys,* I posted to my Facebook page a couple of days ago, if not it is well worth the read.

In response to the article, my friend posted this on my page, “it has always miffed me that even women tend to buy into the notion that being masculine is better. How many women do you hear bragging that they were tom-boys as children? Why is that so desirable? Do you see men being marketed “girl-friend” jeans? I’m a very capable girly-girl and I always have been. I’m also proud that my very masculine, heterosexual sons can cook, clean, sew, and take care of themselves and others. This male supremacy notion will not die until females let it.”

This really got the wheels in my head turning and I realized how deeply ingrained and rooted this issue truly is in the fabric of our society. This is both a gender issue and a feminist issue as well. The gender stereotypes we place on each other have created a society in which we are ALL limiting individual creativity and freedom of expression.

For me I personally cringed when I realized how guilty I am of this stereotyping in a way I never considered before. My husband is a wonderful, sensitive, nurturing person. One of the very first “dates” we went on was to go jean shopping, he offered! He is meticulous about what he wears, loves to cook, is very creative by nature, bakes scones for my play dates, and even wore nail polish at times when he was in high school. I am at fault because I joke around with him and say, “You must have been gay in another lifetime!” Double whammy, big time stereotype!

Why is it “normal” for me to do all these things but so “abnormal” for him to do these things? Why is a girl who is more in touch with her masculine side labeled a “tomboy” as a child and a “butch” as an adult? Why is a man who is more in touch with his feminine side ridiculed at a young age and then labeled “gay” whether or not he really is? Because this is what society has decided is the norm and like lemmings, we have all gone along with it not realizing the damage it has done and is doing to our society. As women we cry for equal rights and for men to “step up to the plate,” and then turn around and “husband bash.” This behavior is completely counterproductive.

We can’t have it both ways, either we accept each individual for who they are as a person or we continue to segregate ourselves and limit ourselves based on gender stereotypes. The judgment towards each other based on traditional roles is wide spread; working moms vs. stay at home moms, stay at home moms vs. stay at home dads. Not everyone has to fit into a perfect little box of past societal norms. Some women would prefer to return to the workforce while still others prefer to stay home. Is one right and the other wrong? One better at motherhood than the other is? Is a stay at home mom so much better than a stay at home dad? The answer in my opinion is no! Well I am a firm believer that as much as possible, a child’s main caregiver should be one of their parents, I have no doubt in my mind that a father can fill this role just as a mother can.

When we limit each other based on gender, we are limiting ourselves as well. I want a marriage based on equality; that being said I have to be willing to truly believe that my husband and I are equals. This means two things: A. I appreciate and recognize his efforts in our home as a husband and father. I don’t judge or make fun of him, thinking I could or should “do it better” because I am the woman. B. I do expect my husband to be a capable, sensitive, loving, husband and father. I do not buy into the stereotype that men are stupid, incapable, insensitive, idiots (even though this is what most commercials convey to me).

Going forward as a parent, it is my responsibility to offer my children, regardless of gender, equal opportunity to explore, enjoy, and experience the world around them. If my daughter wants to be a firefighter, bravo! If I should have a son and he wants to be a nurse, bravo! If my daughter works full time and her husband decides to stay home, good for them. I will not judge my future son-in-law or view him incapable of this task. Feminism, at its very core, is about equality and that is for ALL not just for women.


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