A stereotype is a wide generalisation, concept or bias about an individual or a group. It is a widely accepted judgement which is over simplified and not always accurate.
Gender Stereotypes are simplistic generalisations about the gender attributes, differences and roles of individuals and groups. They can be positive or negative but they rarely communicate accurate information about others. They cause unfair and unequal treatment to the sexes involved. For example, boys are expected to wash cars while the girls are expected to do the dishes. How accurate can these stereotypes be? Anybody can wash the car or do the dishes. These stereotypes can prove harmful, stifle individual's expression and creativity and hinder personal and professional growth.
Gender stereotypes are most times erroneous. They are as a result of gender roles, hence, we believe it is applicable to everyone and when someone is expressing themselves contrary to these stereotypes, we tag them names. It is wrong! We should respect everyone and their opinions not a generalised opinion.
The female stereotypic roles are to marry and have children; be accommodating, compassionate and emotional; take care of the children, cook and clean the house; be teachers, nurses and other occupations which show their communal characteristics such as concern for others, affiliation tendencies, deference and emotional sensitivity.
These stereotypes are not veracious and they affect women and girls. For example, a woman who conforms to those stereotypes are seen as weak and less competent, hence, they can't take up some jobs. However, when they counter such stereotypes, they are seen as aggressive and bossy which means they can't take up the jobs as well. Isn't it high time we started restructuring gender roles to correct these stereotypes?
It's doleful and painful how some guys still want their wives to be housewives. Do you have a farm at home that she would be attending to or what exactly is in the house that you want her to be in charge of? I have a lot of stories to share but permit me to share one.
It's a true story. He bagged his doctorate degree seven years ago and is working with a good company with huge pay. He got married to a young girl immediately she finished her first degree which was six years ago.
Last week, he was at work and he needed something urgent from home. His darling wife was at home. She wasn't allowed to work. Why would she work? I mean she has everything she wants at home including the Television and a nice kitchen. He put a call through his wife to send a file via mail to him at the office. It was really urgent and he needed it timely.
However, the wife couldn't transfer the file. She doesn't know how to operate a laptop. She got directions from the husband but that amounted to nothing. He was frustrated! They discussed on the phone for over an hour on how to transfer a document which was abortive. How ridiculous!
This young girl was quite educated but her roles are just to bear children and take care of the home. That is all. Marry and cook! Is this all that there is to a woman? I was at the cafeteria when I met two of my classmates. They were talking about life after school and they asked me a question, 'what would you be doing after school? Are you not supposed to marry and deliver of children?' Your man would take care of you'.
Really? Who still comes up with that theory in the 21st century? Such stereotypes are harmful and they limit girls' potentials to house chores. I found it offensive though. I thought the girl was supposed to be a help-meet. I thought the woman was supposed to assist the man, financially too. What is with these detrimental stereotypes?
I know of a guy who is quite emotional. He cries when he is hurt and his emotions are evident. To some guys, he is weak. Really?! Men's stereotypes are to be the financial provider, assertive, competitive, independent, courageous and career-focused. They are never to show their emotions and always meant to initiate sex in bed.
Most of these stereotypes hurt men a lot but they can't show it. Too much is expected of them and yet, they are to be a man. That sounds sexist. They are to man up! A man is expected to pay the bills because they are providers. Absurd! Why can't a woman pay the bills if she has? Why can't it be whoever has enough should pay? Why do we deprive men of their emotional health? These men hurt on the inside but they can't show it. They can't seek help from their partners because it's going to be an insult on their ego. Hence, they work tirelessly just to provide. Why can't it be mutual? Why can't we relieve each other off the stress?
Imagine a home void of stereotypes. Are you imagining such now? A home where whoever has enough pays; the boy does the cooking as well as the girl; the girl washes the car as well as the boy; the man shows how he feels and the woman ensures that the needs are met regarding his feelings or such is not repeated again; the woman initiates sex in bed; the man prepares breakfast before they both leave for work; the woman foots the bill whenever they go out together to shop or eat...
Somebody is saying, 'Latoria, you don't seem to get it. These things are cultural. What would the society think of an African man cooking? That is an insult!'. Maybe, we should start restructuring gender roles. The United States of America saw it as a taboo too for a man to cook until they restructured. It was a taboo for women to be doctors, engineers, lawyers and the likes too here in Nigeria until we had a change in culture. Since these things are not biological, they can be changed. And it begins with individuals.
Stereotypes are restrictions. They don't bring the best out of people. They kill and deaden one's potentials. Perhaps, if we do away with gender stereotypes, we can live up to our full potentials as man, woman, boy and girl. Then, marriage would be a thing of understanding and affection not a place to escape roles. Perhaps, our home would be lovely and a place to look forward to not a place to run away from. Maybe, we would all contribute selflessly as a family, community and country and respect one another... Maybe, if we could do away with stereotypes, we would come to appreciate ourselves, partners and children.