Gender roles are around us constantly whether we realize it or not. It is a very difficult concept to change within our society because these roles have been included in our society for centuries. To go from everything being gendered to having nothing gendered would be an incredibly difficult/nearly impossible task. Although the stereotypes and sexism have improved greatly since previous decades, today we still see some gender roles hidden in plain sight. Upon evaluating my own life and how gender roles play a part in it, I have discovered that our culture trains masculinity and femininity to be a certain way, yet in mocking, non-obvious ways.
As I went about my day, it was difficult to really find many things that were gendered in my routine. In today’s society we have gotten much better about making things not so gendered or stereotypical, but most of the instances I came into contact with was on the Internet. Although sexism isn’t so blatant and serious anymore, people now choose to poke fun and joke about genders. As I sat on the app called iFunny, I came across multiple pictures that whilst making me laugh also angered me. This picture stuck out to me the most.
It is the idea that these quotes and pictures are so sexist, that it’s funny. The creators don’t actually mean what they are saying, but it’s the fact that the ideology of women being the domestic partner and waiting on men hand and foot. In our society when people see this they know it is a joke, but the idea is then placed in their head as funny and something they can joke about in a lighthearted way. These types of pictures anger me because it still suggests that women play that type of role and will always be seen that way, no matter how much of cultural advance our society makes. I also disagree because I don’t believe women should be domestic housewives, they should be out in the job force just as much as men. I think there is not one job a female or male should do over another and that each gender should equally care for and support the other. Seeing these images in our culture still today only supports gender roles being strictly male or female instead of knocking down those barriers between the two genders.
We see hegemonic femininity all over the Internet from online shopping to famous peoples social media accounts, which promotes the “perfect” look that all women think they should strive to be like. As I online shopped at Forever21.com for a fancy dress for my semi-formal dance I thought to myself “I wish I looked like these girls, so that dress would look like that on me”, which I don’t think is a rare thought for most women who online shop because all models are stick thin and look good in anything.
This is the way femininity is constructed for all women. In Sarah Banet-Weiser and Laura Portwood-Stacer’s article, “‘I just want to be me again!’: Beauty pageants, reality television and post-feminism”, they mention that extreme makeover shows promote the “ideal” woman, using cosmetic surgery and a lot of makeup. This idea with how predominate it is over the Internet, makes girls self-esteem lower and think that in order to be a female they must change themselves to look “ideal” as well. We don’t necessarily realize this is happening to us. It is the shows and images that put the idea in our head, and then subconsciously we make decisions based on that “ideal” image that we want to mimic. I dislike that I fall into that pool of women, but as I online shop there is no other way to feel since all you see if perfection in front of you.
The final place that I saw the most gender construction happening is at my place of work. I work at Ragstock Co., which is a new and recycled clothing store that sells Halloween costumes. During my shift I was walking around the store straightening up racks and I stopped to look at one costume. A shark costume. We carried one for men and one for females. The packaging for them looked like this:
As you can see they are pretty much the same thing except the female one is much sexier and revealing. This is because there is the ideology that women have to look sexy or slutty on Halloween and guys can look stupid or funny. As I worked the busy days leading up to Halloween I saw pretty much every girl buy something that would look cute or revealing. Along with the shark costume we had many other tight, small outfits being marketed to girls, when guys don’t have any expectations put on them. This ideology interpellates me and every other woman in our society because if you are not in a slutty outfit for Halloween then you are considered weird or abnormal.
As we see in Rebecca Hains’s article, “Target will stop labeling toys for boys or for girls. Good.”, our society is making conscious efforts to eliminate the stereotypical gender roles. Although the stereotypes may not be on purpose or obvious, if we keep working towards the eradication of gender roles, then eventually we wont be able to find any examples of stereotypes and gender construction in our every day lives. Unfortunately we have a ways to go, but our society is slowly making improvements that will lead to an equal community one day.
Haines, R. (2015, August 13). Target will stop labeling toys for boys or for girls. Good. Retrieved November 3, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/13/target-will-stop-selling-toys-for-boys-or-for-girls-good/?utm_term=.a57b5290b5f2
Banet-Weiser, S., & Portwood-Stacer, L. (2005). ‘I just want to be me again!’ Beauty pageants, reality television and post-feminism. Feminist Theory, 255-272. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
Lace-up mini dress. (n.d.). In Forever 21. Retrieved November 3, 2016, from http://www.forever21.com/Product/Product.aspx?BR=f21&Category=dress_cocktail-hour&ProductID=2000177968&VariantID=