Attacking destructive gender role stereotypes

by Stacey Oparnica

 Artwork courtesy of  Melodie Lapot
Artwork courtesy of Melodie Lapot

Enough is enough: It’s time to confront the most common gender misconceptions. More than likely, you’re guilty of condoning at least one or two of the many stereotypes that incorrectly define a man or a woman.

The evidence may literally be sitting next to you in the form of a magazine or on the average sitcom. I guarantee you will come across a variety of scenarios portraying beautiful women as pestering, spendthrift or superficial who demand to be pampered and men as lazy, uninvolved or immature.

Granted, there are women and men who fit these characteristics to a T, but you have to ask yourself why these personality traits have become an acceptable part of our culture.

It’s no secret the tolerance of these less-than-admirable qualities can seriously affect the way we perceive a normal and healthy relationship. It’s time to begin our ascent toward the elimination of these destructive social habits.

For every weepy Hollywood movie and word-of-mouth perpetrator who exposed and promoted these ridiculous ideas, know that you are responsible for wreaking much of the havoc in the present-day dating world. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the many stereotypes running rampantly about, but at least we can move forward and agree, for the sake of progress, that both women and men have taken full advantage of these social stereotypes and are equally to blame.

I can tell you from a female’s perspective that the ideal “real” woman — or at least how one is portrayed in our society — cares extensively about her appearance, taking superficiality to a whole new level. Just take a peek at a British survey taken last year, which revealed that every year, the average American woman spends $160 on daily hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners, $120 on styling products, $260 for coloring services and $195 on haircuts. The damage? Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars spent toward hair in a lifetime.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center about gender roles revealed, “… women are somewhat more likely than men to manage household finances,” which makes a person wonder what effect a woman’s spendthrift habits can have on her family if she’s solely in control. Most unsettling is how this type of frivolous spending is actually excused — and dare I say, acceptable — in our society because, hey, it’s a girl thing, right? Wrong — and this is precisely the attitude we need to change.
Let’s be real.

Women aren’t born vain nor are we born with detrimental spending tendencies. We are simply enforcing a habit we believe comes naturally to us because we’ve been led to believe thoughtless purchases, vanity and superficiality are rooted within us as women. The fact that there are many women who hate shopping, spending money or getting pampered is proof that those actions have nothing to do with genes but everything to do with how well we are able to withstand social pressures.
Men are just as guilty of enforcing their own social stereotypes.

One of the most common misconceptions of men is they are naturally lazy or disinclined to help around the house, as if there is a gene preventing them from comprehending household chores. Of course, not all men are the same, they come in a vast array of varieties, as do all people.

But on the other hand, when a woman tells her friends her boyfriend is the one who does the laundry in the household, her friends shouldn’t be covering their agape mouths in shock and fascination.

Let’s face it: Men have also fallen victim to society’s subtle programming and as a result, both men and women alike have failed to challenge the issue any further.

Opposition to cook and clean has become a part of what makes a man and a woman, in turn, often feel they have no choice but to accept their significant others as they are. After all, men will be men right? Wrong again. This tired, age-old concept that people instinctively engage in certain social behaviors based solely on their gender is absolutely ludicrous. Enforcing these baseless stereotypes by using our genders as excuses only ensures the continuance of these ridiculous misconceptions.

– Stacey Oparnica is a journalism sophomore.

–The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.