"Public issue or personal problem" was first coined by C. Wright Mills as the "sociological imagination." This basically means that often what we assume at first glance to be the individual's shortcomings actually point to a larger social issue. In other words, nature vs. nurture.
Today, the most common argument against feminism is that men and women are just made differently, plain and simple. And in some ways, this is true. Biologically, there are differences. But I think it is just wrong to say that generalized and umbrella stereotypes about women's personalities and emotions stem from something inherent in us that makes us inferior to men. I think a lot of it has to do to how we are raised in a society with rampant indoctrinated sexism.
I'll prove it: below, you'll see five common things that we say to our daughters (and, with slightly different wordings, to our sons) which completely form how girls see themselves and how they learn to behave.
1. "He's mean to you because he likes you."
This is a common explanation when little girls as young as 5 complain about boys bullying them on the playground. This may seem innocent enough, but actually, it teaches girls from a very young age to associate affection and love with violence or meanness. So, it's no surprise that women are assumed to be meek and men are supposed to be physically assertive! When you tell girls how to behave from a young age, in this case, to let a boy be mean to you and don't stand up for yourself, it's no surprise that society at large reflects these trends.
2. "One day you'll find your Prince Charming!"
This statement implies that something is missing from girls' lives, that they need someone else to make them whole! Basically, it implies that the kingdom cannot work without the prince. But girls are their own princesses, not damsels in distress, so we should be teaching them that one day, they will become their own queens, and that's enough.
3. "Calm down."
This is a popular joke and meme that serves even more to belittle women for having emotions. We've all seen (or most likely if you're a girl, been called) stories of "hysterical women." But the truth is, there is no shame in sharing emotions, and there is no embarrassment or hysteria in reacting to frustrating situations. Our society associates emotion with women and logic with men, but they should not be mutually exclusive.
4. Any reference ever to our biology.
If you're not a girl, you'd be shocked and dismayed at how many times a woman's period is brought up in conversation. But news flash, just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I'm hormonal. Since I can remember, my biology, my menstrual cycle, and other parts of my physique have been considered a downfall, a struggle, and a handicap. But why do we have to think of them this way? My physical body may be "nature" but the way people react to it, the discomfort that all men have when talking about periods and tampons (Also, why?) and many more situations like this are all instances of "nurture," of society's discriminatory perspective of the sexes.
5. "Boys will be boys."
This is again bad for girls because it tells them that boys get a free pass for everything they do wrong, while girls are expected to be in constant control. BUT, this is also really bad for boys; they are taught that they are incapable of self-control, and, like animals, rely on only instinct. We are stifling boys by keeping them from reaching their true capacity because we tell them and everyone around them that when it comes to girls, sex, etc., they just can't help but obey their biology. But let me ask you this: if society is right and there is something naturally different about men and women (that also makes men superior), why is it that they can't even be expected to respect "no means no'"?
Making change starts at the nuclear level. We have to start watching what we say to our daughters, because if we can correct the problem before it even starts if we can reroute patterns that haven't been created yet, it will start getting easier and easier to move toward equality.
Patriarchal systems are just as bad for men as they are for women, whether we realize that or not. And the truth is, there is a huge need for men to advocate for women's rights. One thing we don't realize is that equality isn't a finite value like a pizza — it's not as though if I, a girl, got a slice, my male counterpart wouldn't get one! We are one human race, and what is good for some of us is actually good for us all.