Gender stereotypes do exist and cause psychological disadvantages. Female and male children tend to have negative effects stemming from gender stereotypes. These effects, they usually carry with them into adulthood and then pass down to the next generation. Little girls are taught to be soft and need a male for protection and/or to repair things. As a little girl they are to wear dresses and play with dolls. Little boys are stereotyped to be tough and strong. They are taught to play with toy guns, play sports and when they are hurt to get up and brush it off and keep going. As little boys, they are not expected and or allowed to cry or show deep emotions. I feel that it is wrong for adults to shame little boys for speaking on how they feel. I feel that it causes them to have difficulty expressing themselves as adults.
Meanwhile we teach little girls to speak about their feelings until they feel better about whatever it is that’s bothering them. This causes little girls to grow into women who over analyze and relive the moment of hurt for too long. I’ve witnessed the negative effects of gender stereotypes personally. I’ve been involved with men who don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings with me. They have a hard time communicating with me as well as others when something is bothering them. In my experience men tend to distance themselves from love ones, verses expressing how they feel. When things become overwhelming or hurtful to them they tend to act out of anger or desperation. These feelings and reactions tend to land men in troublesome predicaments. I have also noticed with some men it is hard for them to be nurturing to their children. I feel that this comes from the gender stereotype that women are to care for the young. Just as it was taught that only little girls can play with baby dolls, only women take care of the babies.
Meanwhile, boys who were allowed to show the softer, nurturing aspects of themselves, cry when they were sad and talk about what they felt was wrong. Those boys grow to be great fathers who cuddle their young and change diapers. Those men don’t feel the restrictions of the stereotypes. It goes both ways because on the other hand there are women who feel they can’t do anything without a man’s help. These were the little girls who were taught to be soft and dainty. “Let a man do it. As a female you shouldn’t have to get your hands dirty.” I don’t believe in this gender stereotype either. In this day and age a woman can do everything a man can do and more. Women who weren’t subjected to those types of stereotypes and sexist thinking, grow up to build baby cribs themselves, open jars, complete small repairs to their home and vehicles without the assistance of a man. With these gender stereotypes out of the picture women take out the trash, men wash dishes, women change the light bulbs and men go grocery shopping. This is how I feel it is supposed to be.
In the article “Boys Who Cry Might Have It All Figured Out” Dr. Christia S. Brown shares an epithet “Stop crying! Boys do not cry.” I heard it the other day at the grocery store and had to bite my tongue. A four-year-old was clearly upset and his dad was dishing out this ironic parenting gem. I wanted to tap dad on the shoulder and point out the flaw in logic. If boys don’t cry, then you shouldn’t have to tell your son that boys don’t cry. I never have to tell my dog that dogs don’t meow. She doesn’t meow, will never meow, and me telling her this tidbit is pretty irrelevant. Repeatedly telling a crying boy that boys don’t cry is ignoring the obvious: that boys do, in fact, cry.” Dr. Brown goes on to explain how even though boys and girls differ in many ways. Young boys and girls both experience fear, pain, shyness and sadness. Not one more than the other or vice versa. However, little boys are still reprimanded for crying and showing sadness. It’s also mentioned in the article that boys are more at risk for depression before hitting puberty than girls. Dr. Brown seems to feel as I do when she states “As parents, though, we often teach boys that sad emotions are something only girls are allowed to express. This shapes their emotion schemas, those ideas we hold about what emotions feel like, how they should be labeled, and how they should be expressed. We aren’t born with these schemas, we are taught them. For boys, they are taught that sadness is not okay, and expressing sadness is definitely not okay. The article emphasizes how boys tend to turn their sadness into anger and how this is accepted from boys. She describes how it’s more accepted than expressing sadness. Anger and aggression have been substituted for expressing sadness. Dr. Brown doesn’t stop there she goes on to mention the negative effects of how we teach young girls to over express and dwell on things. She tells us that she feels we should meet somewhere in the middle where girls should “man up” and boys be a little more in touch with their feelings so we can find a healthy middle ground.
In the article “Why it’s good to let boys to cry” Jennifer Kogan also starts by sharing an epithet she writes “ A sad thing happened at my son’s baseball game a few weeks ago. Picture this: A 13-year-old boy strikes out at bat. As he walks off the field you can tell by his drooping posture that he is upset. From my metal seat in the bleachers, my heart aches as I watch tears start to spillover. Jennifer explains how she then heard a mother yell from the bleachers “There will be no tears during this game”. The writer explains how this made her uncomfortable that this young boy has to hide his emotions. She is asking parents to wonder if it is right to assume teenage boys should stop expressing their strong feelings.
The article included information stating that boys that remained close to their mothers were more in touch with their emotions and better at communicating them. In the contrary a study conducted by Arizona State University professor Carlos Santos, showed that closeness to fathers did not seem to have the same effect. Jennifer mentions how In addition to combating depression it seems evident that boys who stay connected to their feelings will be able to express their anger in healthier, more productive ways. There’s an insert in the article from the book Why Boy’s Don’t Talk- and Why It Matters McGraw-Hill, 2004), authors Susan Morris Shaffer and Linda Perlman Gordonl say we need to find ways to connect with our sons because, “when boys don’t talk, we assume that they don’t feel…We don’t get to fully know them; we end up validating only one part of them. It matters because when boys don’t talk, it inhibits intimacy….we shortchange their emotional growth; as a result, parts of boys remain hidden.” Niobe Way, author of Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendship and the Crisis Connection.( Harvard University Press, 2011) Expressed her concerns by writing My concern starts with the boys themselves and extends the men they will become and the families they will create.
Oftentimes, when I am working with a couple in therapy, men will tell me they, “aren’t good with feelings” or, “they don’t have a lot of feelings.” These professionals all mention the effects that the gender stereotypes have on children and then adults.
I happen to agree with both articles and the opinions and concerns mentioned in them. I agree with Dr. Brown, in many ways our views are almost identical. I have a concern with females being overly sensitive, talkative and sad. I also have a large concern that males aren’t sensitive, talkative or express sadness enough. I believe as parents we shouldn’t tell our sons not to cry and we shouldn’t encourage our daughters to be overly sensitive. I’m not comfortable with the idea of accepting anger in place of sadness in our boys and men. I am even more so uncomfortable with the idea of our girls and women so full of sadness that they lose their right to be angry or have any kind of fight. The main point of Dr.
Brown’s that I agree with is the healthy middle ground.
There were certain things my family did when I was raised, as well as things I go out of my way to do raising my daughter. I was never encouraged to be too girly or too much of a tom boy. I was raised simply to be a happy and healthy child. It was encouraged to ask questions, cry or even scream if I needed to. I was never subjected to gender stereotypes and neither was my brother. I was of course taught to sit with my legs closed, I was bought dresses, tea sets, baby dolls and make up.
However I was also bought overalls, soccer shorts, sweat suits, Nerf guns, water guns, soccer balls, baseball gloves and action figures if that’s what I liked. My family never made me feel like things like that were just for boys. When it came to my brother, he was raised the same way, he had what is considered to be “ boy toys” but he also wasn’t shamed for playing hide and seek with my baby dolls. He wasn’t reprimanded or teased for having fake tea with me with my tea sets. My brother was taught to cook and bake just as I was. I was taught to take out the trash and change a tire just like he was. My brother was allowed to cry just as much as I was. The catch being, the reason we were upset had to be justifiable, we weren’t to be cry babies or easily angered. Nevertheless it never had anything to due with gender. There however were a few differences,I couldn’t of course go anywhere topless as a little girl and my brother couldn’t go out wearing a purse. Ironically, my brother was forced to hold my mother and grandmother’s purse for them when we were younger just to teach him not to fall into that stigma of being too embarrassed to hold a bag that isn’t his. He now as an adult has the confidence and respect to hold his girlfriend’s purse for her which I believe is a strong trait in a man.
I feel that these lack of gender stereotypes and our parents finding a middle ground caused us to be well rounded individuals. I agree with Niobe Way with her concerns about boys growing up and not being able to properly communicate. This is something I have experienced with multiple men. Men I have been in a personal, work and causal relationships with. Men grow up to be terrified to show sadness. Men are afraid to be looked at as less than a man for expressing themselves. I also agree with Susan Shaffer’s concern with the lack of communication and being in touch with their feelings affecting a man’s intimacy. Communication is a huge part of intimacy. Being in touch with one’s feelings is an even bigger part of intimacy.
Furthermore, I find that it is ok for a boy to cry. As a matter of fact, it is needed for boys to cry. Gender stereotypes are a problem. But the best part is, we can solve it. We can encourage our boys to cry. We can let children be children. As parents, neighbors, friends, teachers and mentors, it’ on us to open the lines of communication. It is evenly important for us to stop forcing gender stereotypes. We need to pay close attention to the stereotypes that were forced on us and how we pass those down to our children and next generation.