It is common knowledge that women have often been criticized and called out when they ditch feminine values; the fact that the likewise happens to men too is not discussed quite as much. Traditionally, men have been expected to live with certain unsaid rules imposed upon them. These rules tend to encompass anything between and beyond “Don’t let your feelings show!” to “Make sure you do all the physical work because you’re a man and so you’re strong.” That this might not seem a lot on paper only highlights how deeply these stereotypes have been ingrained in our society. Most men are deemed to be regular as long as they stay inside the confines of this box they’re put in. But the moment they try and step out, the moment they try to break the constructs, they are ostracized.
Growing up with a patriarchal mindset, boys are often taught as kids that feelings are something to be shunned and tucked away. “Stop crying like a girl” is a phrase that almost every man has heard in his infantile years. Men are told that to feel sad is to be weak, and their gender makes them inherently stronger than those whiny little girls who barely have a hold on themselves. One can wonder how this mindset affects a child’s mental health; how it shapes them into becoming adults so out of touch with their emotions that they end up repressing almost every feeling.
As if gendering feelings wasn’t bad enough, we somehow managed to make colors gender- centric too. A man wearing pink? What an atrocity! What a shameful sight! Even the tiniest speck of makeup is a crime against humanity. Add that to a career choice that isn’t ‘masculine enough’ and you’re socially doomed. Having professions such as being a nurse or a social worker are generally looked down upon on account of being unsuitable for men. It should be needless to say that a vocation should rely on one’s aspirations, not on pointless gender stereotypes.
It would be safe to say that stereotypes set around gender-based constructs bring only harm to this world we live in and everyone who inhabits it. As they are seen around us so frequently, it becomes easy to overlook them entirely: but the effects they have cannot be overlooked any longer. Today, the youth is stepping forward and speaking up about this unjust system of belief.
Hope is still alive that these grave notions can be corrected: because if water is capable of shaping rocks, strong words can eventually shape oppressive mindsets too.