Breaking Through Gender Norms

Breaking Through Gender Norms

Alexandra Lee, Guest Contributor

Gender norms have plagued society for a long time and have grown to become an obstacle more than anything else. Writer Elizabeth Weingarten wrote, “Freud’s theory isn’t yet dead; enduring gender norms show us that the bodies we’re born into still govern lives of women and men around the world.” Growing up in a world where gender defines someone before anything else does is a hardship that many people today have to face.

Growing up as a girl in a society still struggling to break gender norms presents its own set of problems, seeing as girls are expected to wear makeup, dresses, and heels. Girls are expected to conform to these expectations of what a female should be. Growing up as a boy in society presents another set of problems seeing as boys are expected to be strong, brave, and independent. Boys are expected to conform to these expectations of what a man should be.

According to today’s world, this division is necessary for people, but these extreme ideas have created a terrible life for kids who want to grow up and change their world. In a study done by Dr. Clare Conry-Murray and psychologist Elliot Turiel, kids from the ages of 6 and up made choices having to do with hypothetical situations for masculine and feminine norms. Some examples are, “attending classes (computer or babysitting classes), receiving toys (trucks or dolls), and wearing costumes for a party (soldier or ballet).”

Out of this “the majority of participants (90% overall) did give gender norm consistent responses.” These results, while expected, show just how deep the division between gender runs. The amount of pressure that kids are given at a young age to follow society’s standards, creates a world that is divided from the beginning.

Society’s gender roles are used a lot from the way that people dress to the way that people act. These stereotypes make people fit into a category that wrongly defines who they are. People have already begun the fight to fix the world and continue to prove just how unimportant gender norms are.

“If there’s a leading edge that is the future of gender, it’s going to be one that understands that gender is relative to context (Bornstein)” Weingarten wrote. As an author and gender theorist, Bornstein talks about the importance of breaking gender rules that have been an unnecessary division for too long.

Photographer Sophia Wallace is helping to lead the change of gender norms through her works. In one of her works, called “Girls Will Be Bois” she focuses on women in what might be considered “un-feminine” clothing. Her different works all centered around breaking the regular ideas about gender roles in society.

Not only have females been pushing for gender change, but many male role models are working to make a change as well. The Manual writes about Timothee Chalamet who “embraced the more femme aspects of his style without apology.” Other names mentioned are Billy Porter and Harry Styles, who have both broken several gender rules in the past two years alone.

“Detoxing society requires ripping off a mask of sorts,” Weingarten wrote. Society has been stuck in the same rut for years and nothing has been done about it. Now, society needs to come together to fix past mistakes and create a better world.

Something needs to be done about the world that has become divided over a stereotype of who people should be and not who they are. Breaking these gender norms would be an amazing step in the right direction as a new generation begins to change the world.