Sometimes you have to stop telling little girls that they can be anything that they want to be when they grow. It’s a mistake. Not because they can’t, but because it would never have occurred to them that they couldn’t in the first place. I remember reading this a while back and it made me think about our assumed gender roles in society. I like the note on which it ends. It tells us more about our own doubts and unsurety by overstressing the point (that they could become anything), that in turn sows the seeds of gender bias and inequality. We do it all the time, even unconsciously. How many times have we always automatically allocated the roles of nurse to the little girl and doctor to little boys. When one plays house the little girls pretend to cook, take care of Barbie dolls while little boys drive and go to work. Seemingly innocent. So it’s considered outrageous if one’s little boy wants to wear pink frocks and play dress up or if your little girl prefers guns/football than playing house.
Why have we already decided for them beforehand that pink are for girls and blue for boys? Why if the little boy loves pink? Are we brain washing them? A few months back a little girl of about six made faces at a lady with hairy arms and legs. Who taught her that having body hair is synonymous with being ugly? I found her too young to be judging that on her own, and if she was being taught, is this the right message that we are sending out to our kids? The problem is not with them, it’s with us. You see, we are so mired in our own beliefs that we seem to think that conventionality equals to morality.
Well let me tell you that it isn’t so. But we often seem to confuse and interrelate the two. Even as adults, when one attends social functions the husband is asked about his work or business and the wife in turn is asked about the husband. As kids we are taught to act and behave “lady-like” at schools and at home. To cultivate certain hobbies and interests like knitting, sewing, cooking, being dutiful, loyal and of a sweet temperament. Since these are all qualities that a man would look for in a wife. It escapes my reasoning why these very attributes and habits are not actively encouraged among young boys. The girls too would like to find a man who is compassionate with similar qualities in a mate to get married to and start a family.
Why do we as a society condone the decisions taken by a woman to give up her job and her career, simply because she has a child and a husband to look after? Why is it always she who has to make the ultimate sacrifice? And even though there are many ladies out there who juggle both home and their careers, I’m pretty sure that a sizeable amount of them would want their spouses to take on a greater responsibility at home. Even as we take big strides forward into the 21st century, the question of gender equality looms large overhead like a big question mark.
I’m no feminist or a feminazi. I do not a special day to be celebrated and appreciated. But I do stand for respect, equality and justice, fair treatment of both the sexes. To do away with the social stigma attached to unmarried ladies or ladies who are happen to be a bit boyish either in their personalities or their way of dressing up, or even women who happen to be on the wrong side of the weighing scales. This overbearing obsession with our body image and the way we look. Where does all this spring from? We may not realize this but complimenting a little girl on how pretty she looks with her long hair may indirectly be objectifying her by placing undue importance to physical attributes. We should teach children that the choices and decisions that one makes in life will not make them any less of a woman or man. And physical beauty does not make one a person beautiful. We are after all, a single human race who seeks to progress through change that is good. So on this International Women’s day let us do away with prejudice, dogma and social conventions that keep us enslaved and away from true emancipation. It is only then that we can truly say that we have the power to become anything that we want to be, just like when we were little.