OK, take a look at the list below and decide whether each thing on the list is a ‘girl thing’ or a ‘boy thing’. No cheating, just your first thought – girl or boy??
- Burping and Farting
- Computer programmer
- House builder
How did you go? The reason you probably thought ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ for all of these things is that you have learned Gender Stereotypes! Don’t worry, we all have learned them 😊 But just because we all learned them, doesn’t mean they are correct. Gender Stereotypes are a super simple and rigid way of looking at boys and girls, and men and women. It says that men and boys should look and act in certain ways, like being strong, brave, having short hair, not crying, and having certain types of jobs being a plumber or engineer. It says that girls and women should be pretty, wear makeup, like shopping and work in jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
Are they right?? Are they wrong?? Well, some men are plumbers and they are strong – there is nothing wrong with that, and some women love shopping and are teachers. But what if they don’t? What then? What if a boy wants to be a ballet dancer (which is actually very tough, by the way), or if a girl wants to be a car mechanic?
Stereotypes are too simple, and can make people think they have to act and look a certain way to be ‘normal’. It can even make some people try to force or bully others into acting in the way they think is ‘normal’ to fit these Gender Stereotypes. That can make people feel terrible and even unsafe.
In friendships and relationships, rigid Gender Stereotypes can lead to even more risky situations. When people say “Oh well, boys will be boys’, they can excuse violent, controlling, or bullying behaviour and make it sound normal and OK. When people think that girls should dress and act in a certain way, they may also be likely to blame girls who dress and act differently by saying they were “asking for it” if someone hurts or bullies them. Who needs that? No one! Everyone has the right to respectfully speak, act and dress however they want, and they are never to blame for the actions of others.
We think its time to get rid of these stereotypes and support everyone to be whoever they are and follow their dreams. Are you with us?!