Gender stereotype is considered as an important aspect in leading people to hold general assumptions about men and women either negatively or positively regardless of their individual differences. In her essay “The Myth of the Latin Woman:/Just Met a Girl Named Maria”, Judith Ortiz Cofer points out to the different experiences of stereotypes she has encountered as a Latin woman during her life in the USA and England. Through her essay, she tries to explain to her readers that the general judgements that American people have about her specifically and Latin women generally are wrong and illegal. As a woman who is affected by another kind of stereotypes, which is gender stereotypes, I can relate myself to Judith Ortiz Cofer in the way I experienced somehow gender stereotypes in my country.
The idea of gender stereotypes come generally from the tradition, culture, and religious background of a specific society where men and women learn about their roles and behaviors according to those social and cultural contexts. Even though men and women share equal rights during the last century, gender stereotypes still exist in our society and cause many kinds of discriminations and mistreatments between males and females.
When I was a child I was raised by my parents and grandparents at the same time. My family seemed to be very strict and harsh with my education. Since I was the only girl among two brothers, I was differentiated from them in everything I did; not only in the way I dress and play, but also in the way I should behave and act. For example, I remember one day my grandmother did not allow me to play soccer with my brothers simply because I am a girl. She believes in the fact that girls should not play with boys, and especially the kind of play that are designed just for males. As I belong to a Muslim family, my mother paid a lot of attention to my behavior and to the way I was dressing which was not the case with my brothers, and the reason for her severity, I believe now, was to preserve the honor of the family since this honor according to my culture depends on the reputation of its girls. Also I learned from my family that a girl should be respectful in the way she talks, and even in the way she laughs because when a girl talks or laughs loudly, she is viewed negatively by her environment. Thus, form my early childhood I was taught indirectly about gender differences.
In certain areas of my country still there are people who condemn a mother when she bears only girls. For instance, people give a lot of importance when having a boy, and when a girl is born they will ignore her because she is considered as a curse for the family, and sometimes she is unwelcomed by her relatives, and even the mother will have the same fate as her daughter; she will be beaten and persecuted by her husband and family in-law simply because she bore a baby girl. It is true that some people in my society prefer a boy over a girl and this only for two reasons; people believe that their traditional family will continue only if they have a boy, and also they believe that a boy will more likely take care of his parents when they get old. In addition, what is surprising me was that there are some families when they have a boy they celebrate the event by scarifying a sheep and making a big feast, and when they have a girl all the family will be sad.