In Defense Of Traditional Gender Roles
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In Defense Of Traditional Gender Roles

Why do we constantly try to separate ourselves from the "other girls"? What do we have to gain?

In Defense Of Traditional Gender Roles

By the grace of God, my thirteen-year-old self would not be able to recognize me today. In middle school, I ensured that everyone in a ten-mile radius knew that I wasn’t like “other girls”. I wore black nail polish and lipstick, listened to heavy metal and classic rock, and my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of black t-shirts and torn jeans. I thought the Twilight series was the gold standard for love stories, rejected everything that could be considered girly, and swore up and down that I would never be in a sorority.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since the days I drew Sharpie tattoos on my friends and used half a pot of eyeshadow per day. While I still love my dark lipstick and spiky combat boots, I embrace pink and sparkly and all of the things I so hated when I was younger. But this toxic mentality of ‘us against them’, of separating ourselves from the “other girls” is still alive and well in our society, and if feminism is ever going to make a larger impact, we need to change the way we see each other.

Feminism, by basic definition, is the establishment of equal rights for people of all genders. But how can we work on establishing equality when we don’t even view each other as equals? Everyone has been guilty of this at some point, and the root of this problem can be traced back to the portrayal of women in media. Nearly every movie I watched as a pre-teen had a shy, socially awkward lead who listened to cool bands and wore dark clothes, with the bossy, fashion and boy-obsessed girl as the antagonist. On the other side of the coin, there are movies like the Princess Diaries, where a girl has to undergo a complete physical transformation to be considered acceptable. Our media is saturated with stereotypes: the ditzy blonde, the grade-obsessed perfectionist, the skater punk, and the comic book geek. This compels people, of all genders, to fit their personality into a predetermined box and feel superior over others.

This idea of superiority, of girls putting themselves above others due to their music preferences, clothing, and even career choice, is self-destructive. I think everyone has faced both sides of this dilemma. When I began the Greek recruitment process, I received a lot of questions from old friends who didn’t think I looked like “a sorority girl”. At the same time, I listened to girls in my anatomy lab make fun of girls who are English or education majors, as if teaching the next generation is less important or requires less intelligence than becoming a doctor or an engineer.

This needless toxicity extends to every aspect of our personalities. My love of comic books and video games doesn’t make me better, smarter, or more unique than girls who love romance novels and fashion shows. I used to make fun of girls that spent hours on their makeup, believing them to be shallow and insecure. Now, I wished I could have had friends to practice with instead of caking on a ton of eyeliner.

When we restrict ourselves to one-dimensional traits, to stereotypes that can be summed up in a sentence, we limit our ability to grow and change. If I had been stubborn, if I had kept my personality locked in a box, I would have never discovered how much fun all those girly things could be. How I could be in a sorority and love Star Wars. How I could be pretty and smart and refuse to let anyone belittle me about either.

2017 needs to be the year of women supporting women. Feminism is about choice, about the power to choose your own path without being limited by your gender. So if your feminism ridicules those who choose more traditional gender roles, then it’s not really feminism, is it? Women who become stay at home moms, who major in education, who enjoy fashion, who join sororities- they are not weak. They are powerful enough to choose the things they love, despite living in a world that tells them to reject it in order to be intelligent, respected, and unique.

As women, in order for us to move forward in this world, we must respect and encourage each other. We gain nothing by putting each other down and everything by lifting each other up. In 2016, a woman won the popular vote in a U.S. presidential election for the first time in our history. Imagine what we could do in 2017. Isn’t that something worth fighting for?
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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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