Gender inequality – are only women affected?
When you hear the words gender inequality, you probably think of unequal payment, women being harassed, feminism and so on, but have you ever thought about how gender inequality and stereotypes affect men?
Personally, I feel very strongly about equal rights in general, but when I started attending a new course this year, I realized that not only women suffer from discrimination sometimes. Now, I know what you are thinking, `Men are not discriminated against for being men. They often get paid more they are the only ones who are allowed to be priests in the catholic church, they are often portrayed as smarter and braver throughout the history, and so on´. Let me ask you one question. What happens when a man doesn´t act “manly” enough? Well, one option is, he is quickly labelled as gay.
Let me explain.
In my new course which focuses on the concepts of masculinity in film our teachers explained to us how masculinity is not something boys are born with, but something that is taught from a very young age. It is a role that you must play, but what are the effects if you don`t play it? Personally, I have the impression that girls (at least in our society and in our time) have more freedom concerning the way they act. There seems to be a logical explanation, For years, people have focused a lot on feminism. Anyone could define it, and a lot of people would probably agree that it is an important issue. While everyone is focusing on women being discriminated against, no one is thinking about the stress that is put on boys to behave in certain ways. In some cases without people even noticing it, but it is still there. Most movies (just as an example) have a very clear idea of how a man should behave. There are little phrases like, “There are things a man has to do”. You might think that only occurs in old movies but it doesn´t. Just take one of the most recent movies, which I personally like a lot, “Suicide Squad”. It wasn´t as clear as in the old movies, but there were tons of clichés. For example a man refuses to hug another man even though they are friends, a man overcomes his emotions and “fulfills his duty”. The women, on the other hand, were no wandering stereotypes. In fact, they were far from it.All of them were kicking ass all the time, sometimes more than the men. This might be an example of women being helped to overcome the role society gave them, while men were completely ignored.
However, that only concerns movies. Let me give you a real-life example. Imagine a girl wearing jeans. You wouldn´t think twice about it, right? Well, now think about a boy wearing a skirt. What would you think about him? It would most likely feel weird, or at least unusual, right? Why? If girls can wear skirts and jeans, why can`t boys do the same? Think about the color pink. Girls wear pink all the time. Now, if a guy wears pink, some people start talking. I actually heard a girl say that a boy was gay, because he was wearing a pink shirt. Another obvious thing is body contact. When girls are best friends they hold hands and hug and kiss each other on the cheeks all of the time, and nobody thinks twice about it, except in a few cases. It would probably be very different if boys did that. Actually, Buzzfeed has made a few very amusing videos about what it would look like if guys acted like girls do, in our society. I will put the link below, if you are interested.
Now, I could go on and on with examples and the effects it has on peoples lifes and all kinds of things, but it would never end and it wouldn`t lead us anywhere. So, instead, I think we should consider what our options are to make the situation easier. In my opinion, girls and boys, from a very young age, should not be taught different gender roles. This t includes giving them different toys, describing some colors as “girl colors” and the others as “boy colors” and so on. Just a few weeks ago, I was helping in a kindergarten, and the women I worked with explained to me that they kept all sorts of gender roles away from the children, because they are so harmful. In the three days I spent there, I could observe how strict they actually were about this.
I just hope that, after reading my text, youwill just take a second to consider whether you have had similar experiences in your life, and whether men could be the victims of discrimination.
Buzzfeed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTOHvxmXOx8