Gender Stereotypes

Today I gave a presentation to new resident assistants (the students who live in the dorms–formerly called counselors, etc.) about gender stereotyping. This is something I feel pretty strongly about, and I think it went well. One of the things I had them do was write stereotypical assumptions about men and women. It was interesting.
doesn’t cry
good at math and technology
like to shop
like fashion
cry a lot
good at art
You get the idea. Then I did role playing with the students in different situations–a female who was doing poorly in her math class, a male who cried and wanted to drop out of school because his girlfriend broke up with him, a male who was being physically abused by his girlfriend–and then vice versa. I was trying to get them to see that sometimes we subtly encourage women to give up (by taking away hurdles) and sometimes don’t let men express emotion.
I think it went really well. As I was researching it I came across a study where they had asked people to determine the emotion of a baby after watching a jack-in-the-box. If they thought the baby was a boy, they marked the emotion as “anger.” If they thought it was a girl, they said “fear.” Interesting, eh? Basically, it is impossible to eliminate our gender biases, probably, but at least we can recognize they are there and try to let people be themselves.
Even though my parents were very much ahead of their time, there was still some gender inequity in my family. Why was I ironing my brothers’ shirts? Why did I clean toilets while they mowed the lawn? I remember sitting on the porch and being so sad when my dad and brothers left to go camping on the father/son night. Sure, there was a “Daddy-Daughter” night for me–but nobody thinks that’s as fun as a camping trip, do they?
Now, I have to be honest and admit that there are times I let biases run rampant because I DON’T WANT to change my flat tire or lift that heavy box. I can do it–I just don’t want to, and it’s easy to play that card. I didn’t say I was proud of myself.


4 responses to “Gender Stereotypes

  1. Sometimes I play the “learned helplessness” card, but Todd always calls me on it!
    It’s interesting that you mention the kind of chores you had has a child because in my family, everyone had to do the same jobs, they just rotated. In Todd’s family, boys had “outdoor jobs” and girls had “indoor jobs.” He always thought that was completely bogus because to him the indoor jobs looked easier! But just last week I heard him repeating the very same drivel to Jesse that he had resented as a kid.
    Don’t forget you’re picking me up tomorrow 🙂

  2. That’s funny, because I thought the outdoor jobs were easier and more fun. I’ll be there tomorrow at 6:25!

  3. You did a good job with Greg – neither of us seem to have gender issues with chores. Once I went to get an oil change while he did laundry! We split dishes evenly, every other load. And we trade off mowing, and cleaning for the most part. I tend to clean more, I think, and I take care of the bills and paperwork. But he does all the tech stuff and keeps our computers healthy. I’m just glad he had such good role models that he is not afraid of a little laundry! Because I hate doing it!

  4. Now that’s the highest compliment I could get! I’m thrilled! One of my favorite memories was when Greg called home when he was about 19 to say he was homesick and wanted to make a dinner that reminded him of home. I waited expectantly for him to ask for my recipe for something, but then he said, “Is Dad home?” It was a great moment–he wanted Paul’s recipe for okra!

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