Gender roles are the socially constructed ideas about what it means to be a boy/man or girl/woman. No person is born and immediately expected to know and perform the way that people expect them to act based on the sex they have at birth. These expectations have to be taught, and they are usually taught starting from Day 1 (consider how we give male newborns blue clothes and female newborns pink clothes while still in the hospital). Males and females are talked to and treated differently starting at this young age, too. This short video shows just how ridiculous some gender roles can be.
Our current culture teaches young men to be dominant, competitive, unemotional, and that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems, while we expect girls to be emotional, more submissive, and nurturing. These ideals are reinforced by how children are expected to play with toys and other kids.
People also tend to penalize others when they don’t fit into an expected gender role; we insult boys who are crying by calling them “sissy,” for example, and will call a girl “unladylike” if she shows her rough and tumble side. This type of discrepancy between genders creates an idea that men and women are unequal, which can in turn lead to violence down the road. TAASA’s Break the Box campaign strives to bring awareness to the harmful role of gender stereotyping.
If you have any questions about gender role socialization and violence, please contact Brandon Pendleton, Primary Prevention Coordinator. He gets to talk about cool topics like this with kids and adults alike. Request a presentation or series of classes for your group today.