Gender stereotypes have got to go

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Cohl Woolbright (’17) shows off his makeup skills (peep that highlight).

Haley McCoy, Editorials Editor

      Girls wear dresses and play with dolls. Boys wear t-shirts and play with trucks. Girls love the color pink and wear lip gloss like religion. Boys don shades of blue and own grass stains like works of art. Boys will be boys, but don’t ever throw like a girl. Girls should dress to impress boys, but don’t you dare raise your voice.

      Have you noticed a pattern yet?

      When a girl has an opinion, when she dares to speak up, she is told she has no self-respect. When a boy has an opinion and speaks his mind, he is a leader in the making. But then the question is posed: why? Why is it that boys can’t be weak at the risk of being called a girl but girls are expected to be weak at the risk of making boys feel threatened? Why can’t a girl raise her voice and command attention without being ridiculed for doing so? Why can’t a boy take a step back and watch from the sidelines without being critiqued for not taking charge?

      Practically from birth, girls are bathed in pink, given dresses and bows and makeup and told that pretty is the one thing they should aspire to be. There is nothing inherently wrong with makeup and dresses, but the issue arises when boys are taught the exact opposite. Boys are raised around the color blue. Sports and cars and a boisterous attitude are prized, as is a loud voice that doesn’t allow room for argument. There is nothing wrong with these things either, but then why are boys and girls so separated?

      Girls can play sports and – spoiler alert – excel at them. Boys can wear makeup and look like a professional advertisement for contour. Girls can wear blue sweatpants and boys can wear pink dresses. There are no rules that prohibit these things, but society has taught us that genders have limits, stereotypes, and we must abide by those standards. Even when those standards are sexist and antiquated, society as a whole follows these unwritten rules like they’re written in a holy text. The media calls out a boy for wearing nail polish and eyeliner and girl for not wearing either of the aforementioned products. We’re quick to critique something that seems different but do we ever stop to ask why?

      According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls drop out of sports at age 14 at twice the rate boys do. They have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to continue with sports compared to their male counterparts. This is an issue of nurture. Girls are taught that sports are not feminine because they are gritty and dirty and harsh. Girls are not supposed to be harsh. Boys are taught that sports make a man. Men are happy to grind it out on the football field and spend hours sweating in the weight room. But that is not something for girls to do, society has taught us. A girl who plays sports and decides dresses aren’t the best thing in the world is called a ‘tomboy.’ Because by participating in something not geared towards girls, therefore they are no longer girls, and they must be linked to boys to make the act of playing in a basketball game more acceptable. Similarly, boys who don’t enjoy sports or who do poorly at sports are told that they run ‘like a girl’ or throw ‘like a girl.’ What’s wrong with throwing like a girl? There are softball pitchers who could knock your teeth in with a well-aimed pitch, and then we’ll see if you make fun of throwing ‘like a girl’ again.

      A new student to the school, Cohl Woolbright (‘17), has encountered obstacles when he has stepped outside societal expectations. People express their own opinions because society has set standards and gender roles which are completely irrelevant. Woolbright stands by the notion that there are seven billion people in the world, so expecting them all to conform to the same expectations and having no diversity is setting the bar very low.

      These preconceived standards of what the genders should be like are instilled in children from birth. It takes someone going outside their comfort zone and educating themselves to break these molds, and they are often judged for doing so. But when you mention letting the lines between genders blur, there is always opposition. What is so hard to understand goes back to that one pivotal question: why?

Woolbright shows that makeup isn’t confined to any one gender.

      What’s wrong with being a girl? What’s wrong with dresses and makeup? What’s wrong with being a boy? What’s wrong with sports and video games? The answer is nothing. Therefore, what’s wrong with letting a boy wear makeup and a girl play football? Absolutely nothing. The restrictions on boys and girls are fictional, nonsensical, and imaginary. The only real way to counteract this is to teach children that they can wear what they want, act how they want, and be whoever they want to be without any limitations. It starts at the very beginning.

      Raise boys and girls the same way.