It's Time Our Perception Of Gender Caught Up With The Rest Of 2017
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Politics and Activism

It's Time Our Perception Of Gender Caught Up With The Rest Of 2017

All this information compiled together just screams, “we have a problem.”

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It's Time Our Perception Of Gender Caught Up With The Rest Of 2017
Pixabay

My cousin, Kira, told me at a young age that she refused to shave her armpits because it symbolized the oppression of women in today’s society.

A few years later, I was finally able to put together what she was talking about. Here’s a crash course on her logic: Would you expect any male in your life to be embarrassed for not having hairless legs or underarms? If you happen to be male, did your mother ever explain to you how once you hit a certain age, it’s expected that you shave your armpits and legs, for no reason other than "that’s just how it is?"

The underlying theme here is that there are different expectations for boys and girls. Different expectations that are based on nothing more than what genitalia one has. Gender is assigned at birth, so I think it’s safe to say, no one had a choice in being born a girl or boy.

Doesn’t it seem strange a choice we never got a say in dictates our whole lifestyle?

Girls are pink. Girls are pretty. Girls are Barbies and princesses. Girls are beautiful, emotional, and gentle. Girls are nurses, not doctors. Girls are skinny and concerned with beauty. Girls are mothers. Girls are the cooks and the cleaners of the house.

Girls are either prudes or sluts. Girls are 9 times out of 10 the victims of rape. Girls are at the greatest risk for sexual assault when they are 14 years old. Girls are beautiful. Girls are bossy. Girls are insecure. Girls are earning 79% of what a man makes.

Girls are paid even less if they are not white. Girls are not to be hit. Girls are assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in the United States. Girls are respected. Girls are catcalled and stalked in the streets. Girls are a source of objectification. Girls aren’t boys.

Somewhere along the way, being a girl became a bad thing.

No one has gone through their childhood without hearing the phrase “throwing like a girl” used as an insult. Answer me this: Without making a generalization, what is the difference between the way a boy throws and the way a girl throws? Somewhere along the way, girls became objects.

Every 1 in 6 girls in the U.S. will be a victim of attempted or committed rape in their lifetime. Which means I can tell you right now, three girls in my English class, statistically speaking, will experience a form of forced intercourse in their lives. Boys are about 5 times less likely to experience such a thing. More often than not, girls are the ones sold into human trafficking.

Girls are legitimately used, likely against their will, for their bodies. Why is that ever considered okay?

These women are being considered objects, or slaves, for sex. Somewhere along the way, girls became less valuable than boys. Women are paid less than men. This is an undisputable fact. The pay gap is even more significant in varying states and for various non-white races. I’m hoping you feel a little gross right now because this is disgusting.

All this information compiled together just screams, “we have a problem.”

Boys are blue. Boys are authoritative. Boys are handsome. Boys are G.I. Joes and violent video games. Boys are athletes, not interested in theatre. Boys are messy and stupid. Boys are engineers or mathematicians. Boys are muscular. Boys are funny. Boys are comic book readers and sports fanatics. Boys are confident and brave.

Boys are less likely to admit they need help when dealing with emotional issues. Boys are not cryers. Boys are victims of suicide 77.9% of the time. Boys are the breadwinners of the household. Boys are ridiculed for acting “like a girl." Boys are short hair. Boys are 40% of the victims of domestic abuse. Boys are strong. Boys aren’t girls.

There is a myth out there that only women are affected by gender inequality. I will say, women, in my opinion, struggle with this issue more than men, but that does not mean men are left untouched by its stain on society. Somewhere along the way, it was decided that boys are invincible.

Traditionally, males are seen in Hollywood blockbusters saving the day, and more importantly, the damsel in distress. Strength and manhood have been wrongly used as synonyms for years leading boys to believe that crying is for girls. Suicide rates are higher for males, and if you ask me, it’s because we’ve mistakenly taught them emotions are reserved for the weak and for girls. Similarly, sports and manhood have been confused for the same thing.

Some of my closest male friends in band and theatre tell me how, in 2015, their fathers have yet to accept that they’d rather pursue music than athletics. Apparently, unless you’re sweaty and tackling another boy to the ground, you’re not a man.

Somewhere along the way, creativity became a feminine trait.

Society is obsessed with making young boys feeling like they need to validate their manliness. This theme as runs in the stigma that men aren’t victims of domestic abuse.

I mean, how could women abuse a man? Men are strong and superior, right? Gender stereotypical thinking like this creates an environment where boys are less likely to report domestic abuse due to the embarrassment and fear of judgment for being “beaten up by a girl”.

In the first week of sixth grade, I was sexually harassed. I had been at a choir meeting which ran after school meaning I was walking home alone, but still in broad daylight. Beginning of the year, it was still hot. August was slow to leave.

Naturally, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary for a hot day. As I was making the short journey from the school to my house, two boys, certainly older than I was, rode on bicycles around me in broad circles.

“Hey, you gonna bring that sweet ass around my house at 8 tonight?”

“Why don’t ya come on over now?”

“Hit me up later baby!”

I was catcalled at 11 years old.

I was fresh out of elementary school. I was doing absolutely nothing provocative. I remember this instance so clearly. That should say something, shouldn’t it?Is this the most traumatic thing I could’ve experienced?

No, but there are girls being sold into human trafficking at 11.

Gender inequality is rooted into our lives, and this is so obviously seen in how young it starts. So no, this isn’t the most extreme case of gender inequality you’ll ever see, but I think this goes to show how common it is in action at any age, anywhere, at any time.

People often question my passion about this topic. I’ve never been raped. I’m not old enough to be directly affected by the wage gap. No boy I’ve known directly has ever been abused or committed suicide. So, why rant about gender inequality passionately and seemly with no end? If that is the question you have to ask me, let me say, dear reader, you have missed the point.

Gender roles affect every living breathing human being.

Gender inequality practically rules the world. As I’ve explained, it appears in the underlying themes of some of the society’s biggest issues, like rape or suicide. It appears in everyday life. Think about the clothes you wear. Think about how gender-neutral objects are advertised completely different to target girls or boys.

So maybe Kira wasn’t knocking down the walls of gender expectations for generations to come with each hair grown under her arms, and maybe I’m not opening the eyes of society, instantly revolutionizing life as we know it with an essay I wrote for English, but change is a process.

Gender inequality is a problem, and I will continue to talk about it passionately and neverendingly until boys aren’t scared to hide their feelings until girls aren’t sexualized at 11, until we are free to be our authentic selves not bound by the restrictions of genitalia.

Gender inequality is not okay, and so, change must come.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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