Gender stereotypes have existed for as long as we all can remember. There has always been constant and fixed characteristics expected of men and women.
Oh mighty men, the strong and powerful, who are expected to be the breadwinners: dominant, independent and full of reason. While the ever so sensitive and fragile women who are natural caregivers and homemakers: submissive, dependent and emotional. These are just a few of the many characteristics expected from each gender role.
Stemming from medieval days, women were seen as objects “trophy wives” if we may call them. They were ornamental objects. Men made the decisions, they had the careers, they got the adventures. While women sat at home cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children; until her husband came home of course, so she could serve him. Women were not seen to be able to perform tasks that required much physical labor. The ads in the 1950s-1970s frequently portrayed women as helpless, weak and incompetent. This Del Monte Ketchup up from in 1953 shows the woman looking almost surprised in knowing she can open this “woman safe” ketchup bottle, as they coined the term. Talk about making a mockery of women, the feminists of today would throw a never ending fit about this ad.
Today in our society, women’s strive to gain equality has landed us being able to have careers in teaching, medicine and even law; which were all predominated by men. However, it is stereotyped that a woman is manly if she opts to become a mechanic or a carpenter and men are stereotyped as being effeminate when they choose to be a makeup artist, hair stylist or even design women’s clothing.
Although, times are changing and women are “taking over” we can still see that patriarchal backbone in the society still coming through. Indira Ghani, the first and only female Prime Minister of India was assassinated by two of her own body guards. What was the reason? Her gender of course, she was assassinated mainly because of the fact that she was a woman (O’ Connor, 2010). Margaret Thatcher once said, “In politics, If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” women are seen as being unable to lead. Leading is stereotypically a man’s job.
I recently heard a story on the news about a man who had this unquenchable dream to become a pilot but did not have the financial resources. He was willing to do just about anything to achieve this dream of his, His wife being the “tradition woman” was a housewife. Being the loving, caring woman she is by nature, suggested that her husband sell their house in order for him to go away to aviation school to make this dream of his a reality. He did indeed sell the house and become a pilot after a couple years, all because of his wife’s sacrifice and submission to her husbands dream. He was praised for becoming a Plot and eventually opening his own school in Trinidad. But what about her? The news didn’t even make mention of what happened to his wife. Where did she stay all those years while he was at school? What did she do? Who did she have at her side with their children? What about her dreams?
Stereotypically, women didn’t have dreams and if they did they belonged in their heads -_- how unfair! The husband’s dreams however, are to become the wife’s dreams essentially. Of course that was traditional ways of thinking. Today through compromise and understanding both partners can have successful careers and make it in the professional world. Roles are even being switched up where men are the “stay-at-home-fathers” and the mothers are the breadwinners. As Judith Butler said in her article that gender is not biological but it is performed.
Butler, Judith. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 128-130.
O’ Connor, K. P. (2010). Gender and Woman’s Leadership: A Reference Handbook, 384-385.
Margaret Thatcher Quotes. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/gender-stereotypes