What is a man? What is a woman? What are the traits of these genders? How have these terms evolved over time? We define and group these genders based on the toxic stereotypes society has set up until now. “Women are supposed to stay home and take care of their families. They need to wear makeup and have long hair to look beautiful. They should wear beautiful dresses to show their femininity.” “Men should be physically strong. Men need to take upon the role of being the head of the family. Men should be athletic to show their strength and masculinity. Anything less than that will make society think they aren’t masculine enough.”
Demeaning comments such as these we hear in our everyday lives and in the status quo is what has resulted in the misconception of what being a man and a woman truly is. We have set strict standards from the beginning of time and associate certain objects, pieces of clothing, etc with genders which simply shows how uneducated society is. Republican author Candace Owens is a perfect example which represents to the audience how ignorant and close minded our world and society are. Owens commented on singer Harry Styles’s Vogue Magazine cover where he wore a dress. She began off her tangent by stating the outfit was “too feminine” for a man to wear and claimed it wasn’t “manly” enough. She continued to disapprove of his choice to wear a dress and asserted that his actions and choices are what is making society “corrupt.” Toxic behaviors and a mindset like what Owen possesses is what has led society to believe and follow these toxic stereotypes our ancestors have instilled in our brains. Unfortunately, we need to steer ourselves away from the biased point of views.
In the short story, “Being a Man” by Paul Thereoux, he states, “I have always disliked being a man. The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, in my opinion. The version of masculinity is a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one’s entire life (by contrast, I imagine femininity to be an oppressive sense of nakedness).” Thereoux’s statement is another testimony which proves people are stuck between two worlds. The world in which they follow what society expects them to be and the world in which they simply want them to be themselves.
“I take this as a personal insult because for many years I found it impossible to admit to myself that I wanted to be a writer. It was my guilty secret, because being a writer was incompatible with being a man.” Connecting back to the statement about choosing between two worlds, Theroux expresses his conflict in which he knew he would be looked down upon if he chose the path of becoming a writer. Theroux felt defeated; he could not chase after his own dreams simply because society did not accept male writers due to the gender stereotypes.
It’s unfortunate to say student communities also display negative stereotype mindsets. Men who wear nail polish are suddenly labeled as “gay.” Females who wear baggy clothes or have short hair are automatically labeled as “lesbian.” We have discriminated against those who choose what they do with their own body, and the moment they do something out of the ordinary that doesn’t seem “normal,” they are classified as homosexual even when they might not be. Time and time again, society has followed these stereotypes rather than learning to become educated and realized being masculine doesn’t mean a person needs to be strong or being feminine means to dress more “girly.”
When reflecting upon everything, we need to consider and come to the realization in which the definitions of “masculinity” and “femininity” only come from the misconceptions of our ancestors. We have chosen to believe what they have told us rather than forming our own opinions and accept people for who they choose to be. Over time, humans have evolved to embrace the terms “masculinity” or “femininity,” not the toxic stereotypes set around them. Masculinity and femininity simply means for one to feel comfortable in what they are doing, what they are wearing but more importantly, who they are as a human being. Allowing the basic right and freedom to simply allow people to be themselves without snarky comments being thrown their way shows growth and matureness within society’s actions as we allow ourselves and our peers to be comfortable in their skin.
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