Gender roles are a social norm, something that almost comes naturally to us now.
They tell people what they can and can’t do or wear, diminish, discriminate and segregate the human race; and it may come as a surprise to most of the population, gender roles aren’t a naturally occurring thing.
They’ve been made up by our wonderful species to force people to conform to specific ideals and to maintain our perfect, little, uniform society. Based on your set of chromosomes, you’re forced to act a certain way, dress a certain way, speak a certain way and even learn a certain way.
These ideals make it incredibly difficult for transgender and gender neutral people to go about their every day lives. “But that’s not how it works, you can’t change gender or identify, or leave it as completely irrelevant!” People will scream, desperate to maintain this status quo. Completely oblivious to the fact that gender roles are a way for society to separate us and make sure large amounts of the population don’t feel comfortable in their own clothes.
Even schools give different sets of rules for each gender. Whole separate pages are written to outline the ideals of how each gender should dress and act. Girls cannot wear pants, boys cannot wear dresses, boys cannot have earrings, girls cannot have short hair. It’s ridiculous to think that humans in this day and age are being punished for not following antiquated genders role in society and are literally being forced to align to act and dress specifically, even if it makes them uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, should you not conform to such ideals, you have to deal with bullying and discrimination at every level, even in primary school. I went to preschool with a boy who had long hair, wore traditionally feminine clothing and had a room any fairy fanatic would envy. My other 4-year-old friends and I didn’t see a problem with this, it didn’t occur to us that people thought this was disgusting and wrong. We just treated him no differently to anyone else.
However, as soon as we got to primary school, other kids began to pick on him and bully him based on his choices and the fact that they didn’t “match” their preconceived notions of masculinity. This seemed incomprehensible to my friends and I as we’d been brought up in houses that told us we could be whoever we wanted.
This sort of bullying happens constantly to kids and teens who don’t like what society has decided they have to wear. It especially effects transgender and gender neutral kids and can lead to depression or even suicide.
Unfortunately, we are still trudging through the swamp of sexism and gender roles, in spite of the fact it has long been the time to abandon such standards. Our priorities seem to lie elsewhere.
Knocking down the walls between the genders and letting everyone express themselves how they’d like should be the greater priority for our society. Not putting them down for wearing or acting different to what we decided hundreds of years ago, should be more important than bringing out the new iPhone or inventing ‘tap and go’ for debit cards.
They’re are a lot of simple things we can do to work towards abolishing these standards. For one we could make pubic bathroom’s gender neutral so trans- people don’t feel compelled to go to the bathroom marked as the gender they don’t feel comfortable with and don’t have to worry about being abused for going to the “wrong bathroom”.
We could also stop gender marketing products like clothes, shampoo, stationary and toys. This would also reduce the possibility of kids being bullied for buying “girls stuff” or “boys stuff”.
Schools should stop forcing students to wear certain uniforms and let them chose how they dress to school. Letting school kids freely express their preferred genders, or just wear what makes them feel more comfortable without the hassle they have to go through today.
These are just some small steps that can be taken to address these standards being enforced on people. It is high time we, as a a society, matured to the point where we can allow all people to feel comfortable expressing who they are.