As hard as it maybe to accept, stereotyping gender roles is an innate part of our family, social and workplace culture. Every space that we engage with, in our day to day lives can be observed and different ways that each gender interacts with a particular space can be analysed.
Evils of Stereotyping
We may not want to acknowledge the fact that sexual violence is common in all cultures and that woman are victims of sexual harassment, rape, violence despite of laws prohibiting the violence. Several counselling and training programs exist to counter this problem. Yet this is reality for most women. In villages across India and many cities, several practises exist that discriminate blatantly against women with the understanding that they are inferior to men hence deserve lesser. Women are expected to not remain in a public space without a reason as otherwise she is considered immoral. For instance, if you spot a man standing aimlessly at a street or at a shop, one is probably not going to notice it or give it much thought but if it’s a woman one would either consider her lost or suspicious. A woman is said to be responsible for her own safety. If she is out beyond a time acceptable by society, any crime done against her is considered her own fault. She is judged for everything from what she wears to how she behaves thus labelling her.
Thus at the level of society, perceptions and stereotypes for women are made and any women who does not live up to these images are considered lacking which takes a hit at their self-esteem. Even at the inter-personal and family levels, girls are judged by these stereotypes and they feel limited and handicapped, unable to find the strength or even know that the norms can be questioned and changed. These images leave deep imprints on a woman’s perception of self and others thus she ends up propagating the very image she should question.
Men are expected to be the protectors of the family status and misplaced honour, honour being a women’s “dignity”. Men are expected to not show sensitivity, be aligned towards white collar jobs and have a high salary. This pressure is one of the reasons that men act violent under pressure and domestic violence occurs. Going to the counsellor is considered ‘weak’.
Society tends to suppress the choices of males and females through the practice of cultural tyranny. This forces men and women into behavioural modes, work roles and personalities that are deemed respectable by society. These norms bring about systems that favour men and discriminate against women. Men have opportunities to develop their skills and talents while women are able only within a very limited range. This leads to powerlessness for women relative to men, a limited choice of occupations available to women, loss of self respect for women leading to low self-esteem all thus leading to increased dependence of women on others in their old-age thus more suffering.