Gender is a social construct. It is the cultural and psychological aspects attached to being masculine or feminine, which have an impact on the personal Identity of any individual.
Genders can be classified into man, woman, transgender, intersex, gender queer, etc.
WHAT IS SEX?
Sex is the biological aspect in respect to the genitals at birth, hormones, chromosomes and physical features.
It is classified into male, female or intersex.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEX AND GENDER-
Gender goes beyond the sex assigned at birth. Gender is not limited to man/boy or woman/girl. It exists on a continuum and can change over time. The world is diverse in it’s forms of genders. Individuals across the world express, experience and understand gender and it’s roles differently due to the impact of cultural and societal norms.
The gender typical norms that are appropriate for a man or woman according to the society are described as gender roles. Gender roles consist of behaviors, values and attitudes that are supposed to be fulfilled only by either gender.
Men are meant to protect their families.
Men are supposed to earn.
Women are meant to be natural caregivers.
Women should know how to cook.
These are few examples of where the society has decided upon what men and women “should” or “shouldn’t” do.
GENDER ROLES IN INDIAN CONTEXT
The Indian society has traditionally been very critical upon men and women on what their roles are in a household.
Men usually play a dominant role and are the head of the family. Women tend to follow what they are asked to, they adapt a submissive role in the family.
Women are expected to perform household chores, not just perform, they are supposed to be good at it whereas if men engage in any domestic chores, they are said to performing feminine activities.
When a daughter fulfills the financial demands and supports the family by being strong and brave, stop saying ‘She’s like my son!’
It shows that it’s a son’s job to do so and that the son’s position is higher than a daughter’s.
Some common phrases used in an Indian household for women/girls:
Don’t sit like a boy.
Dress like a girl.
Girls shouldn’t laugh so loudly.
Being a girl, you drive so well.
Some common phrases used in an Indian household for men/boys:
Boys don’t cry! Be a man!
Don’t cry like girls.
Why are you growing your hair like girls?
Men can’t sit at home and take care of children, that’s a woman’s job.
GENDER STEREOTYPES IN MOVIES & ADVERTISEMENTS
Gender stereotypes are preconceived ideas about the characteristics, attributes or roles that should be performed by men or women. A gender stereotype can become harmful when it prevents a man or woman in developing their personal identity and ability to make their independent choices.
Bollywood holds the marshal high when it comes to gender stereotyping. Be it sexualizing actresses in items songs or actors indulging in unrealistic fight scenes, the movies just seem to find a way to distinguish between the roles of men and women.
Examples from bollywood movies, songs and ads that endorse gender stereotypes-
Mard- “Mard ko dard nahi hota”
2 States- “boodhi ho ya jawan melodrama is duniya ki auraton ke khoon me hota hai.”
Hum tumhre hai sanam- “Tum ek patni ho, tumhara pati jaise chahega waise hi hoga.”
Lak 28 kudi da 47 weight kudi da by Dijit Dosanjh ft. Yo Yo honey Singh.
Kinder Joy- The chocolate product that advertises a packaging cover of blue color for boys and pink for girls.
Car advertises always showing men in the driving seat.
Home appliances like refrigerator or purifiers endorsed by female actresses.
WAYS TO BREAK GENDER STEREOTYPES-
We must make ourselves knowledgeable about the different genders around us and how people want to be recognized as, before labelling them as a man or woman.
Let toys be toys-
Nobody said cars are for boys and Barbie dolls are for girls. The society made these rules as per their convenience. Let your children play with any toy that they want to. If your son wants to play with kitchen sets, let them and if your daughter wants to play cricket, it’s her choice.
No chores are gender-specific-
Cooking is not something that only women should learn. It is a basic life skill that people regardless of their gender should be able to do. Similarly,it’s not a man’s job to be the breadwinner of the family, in this time and era every member of the family should take up the responsibility rather than burdening the man.
No occupations are gender-specific-
It is a common practice to associate occupations with genders. While thinking of teachers, women come to mind whereas while thinking of engineers, men come to our mind even though we all know these professions have nothing to do with whether an individual identifies as a man or woman. There are male nurses and female cricketers. Since childhood, the upbringing should be such that children can choose any occupation they seek interest in and have the ability for.
Set diverse role models-
Role models should be those who are encouraging of breaking the gender-specific barriers, such that individuals aren’t confined to a rigid way of thinking. It should challenge them to break stereotypes and set examples for others as well.
Lastly, we should be observant of our surroundings and speak up whenever she anybody discriminating against a particular gender. We should voice our opinions when we see any form of biased behavior based on gender.
EFFECTS OF GENDER STEREOTYPING-
Stereotyping people based on their gender may have a lot of impact that are being subjected to the practice.
- It can limit them in developing their personal identity. They may become conscious in making decisions for their own self because of the societal norms and pressure into doing what others think is right.
- Psychologically, it can cause them distress and might manifest into disorders like anxiety or depression due to suppressing their feelings and thoughts.
- When people around us stereotype, we tend to subconsciously learn that as well. Even if one person makes a little biased remark, it impacts the entire society.
Humans have the tendency to categorize everything around them and so we also classify a man and a woman in all ways possible- the way they should dress, the way they talk, the way they walk, their occupations, their roles in a relationship and many more.
The fact is that there is no rule book and individuals should do what they feel fits them best, what aligns with them and what makes them content.