We all hope to be seen by another for all that we are. But the enemies to authenticity and self-expression are several, and many of those spring from culture. While nature and culture are not and need not be opposites, the format of upbringing these days makes unnecessary distinctions, especially when it comes to gender.
If you ever wonder who is to blame for the failed relationships and increasing loneliness, gender roles might be the prime suspect. While progress has been made on various aspects regarding individual freedom and authenticity, there is still a wide chasm between what one wishes for and what society expects you to be. Suffice to say that these expectations are unrealistic and quite frankly, impossible to live up to.
The biggest danger of unrealistic gender stereotypes is that they can be stealthy while they eat away at you and your relationships. The only way to break free of them is to break the myths surrounding gender and gender roles.
Though it is challenging to come up with an exhaustive list on this, we will try to list the most common ones here:
1. Women Are Emotionally Clingy
This might be the most commonly believed stereotype about women. While this is a sweeping generalization, the real danger about it is hidden. There is an implied message in it, which is suggesting that it is alright for women to have emotional needs, but men do not have that liberty. This is inaccurate and alarming since both men and women are human beings with emotional as well as physical needs.
2. Masculine/ Feminine
It is in our nature to think and talk in binaries. When it comes to gender, man is set in opposition to woman, but this concept from far from being ideal. Many psychological studies tell us that masculine and feminine energies exist in everyone. For a person to be healthy, they have to be taught how to express and balance these sides. The days of mocking a boy for “behaving like a girl” are gone. So are the days of chiding women on the way they behave and dress. Pre-conceived notions about how your partner should behave according to their gender will bring troubles to your relationship. Instead, encourage them to be themselves.
3. The Homemaker And The Breadwinner
It is a very competitive world out there. Both men and women are busy building their careers. However, the notion that women are responsible for maintaining the household has strangely withstood the test of time. Men taking up housework when women go to work is becoming rightly popular nowadays. When both the partners are working, not sharing the household work becomes a double burden on women. Taking equal responsibility for household duties is a basic for a perfect and nurturing relationship. This will strengthen your bond with your partner and increase the respect you have for each other.
4. Man Is The Dominant Partner
Women, especially in India, are advised to give in to their husband’s wishes, even if it means foregoing their own. Similarly, men are given advice on what it means to be “the man in the house.” Such ideas are not only false but also toxic. Not respecting your partner’s desires and wishes merely to prove your upper hand will only kill the relationship. This will bring hurt and disappointment to those involved, and your relationship will meet a slow death. Further, the idea of having dominance and power over your partner may later become the root of abuse in the relationship.
5. Women Can Be “Hysterical”
A famous quote attributed to Oscar Wilde goes, “Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.” This is in line with the popular notion that women can be irrational, whimsical beings who are slaves to their raging hormones. This kind of thinking definitely does not belong to the 21st century, but unfortunately, it is persistent. This is a double-edged sword because men who express their emotions are looked down on and called names.
Expressing one’s emotions is a natural process that keeps us healthy and stable. Stifling it will only lead to increased frustration and stress. That is why phrases like “Boys don’t cry” have to go.
6. Women And Their Love-making Needs
The love-making life of females is a taboo in itself, forget taking the initiative. There are many misconceptions surrounding women and pleasure. A common belief is that women do not enjoy love-making as much as men do. However, the truth is that consensual intercourse, casual or otherwise, is as appealing to women as it is to men.
We are looking at radical changes in the way women and men behave around each other. We are also witnessing several movements that are clamoring for justice and equality between genders. How can we, perhaps, readjust the gender roles and stereotypes for a better and fair society? Unlike popular perception, it is not so much a reversal of gender roles as it is a revision that is required.
Is your relationship suffering from any of these issues? What are your thoughts on gender roles in general? Let us know in the comments below.
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