Gender norms harmful to society

Gender norms harmful to society

Elyse Perry, editor

Recently in our school, there have been debates about the importance of gender norms. We have seen it in our own halls where people are fighting the norms by wearing nail polish or standing up for their pronouns. However, despite the fact that these actions have little to no impact on the lives of other students, the students who dare to stand out have been called out and insulted for not following a norm. This just shows that gender norms in our society have gotten to the point of being dangerous. 

There are many gender norms that most people in society regard as fact. These range from the gender stereotype that women are overly emotional and men are logical to the idea that women are dependent on men. When you look at these norms, it is plain to see a misogynistic subtext under all of it. This layer of sexism that has been laid under gender norms for centuries has caused our society to get the point where the most insulting thing is  to compare a man to a woman. This is harmful to all sides: men, women, and nonbinary individuals.

In the case of men, gender norms are often seen as requirements that are necessary to be masculine. Generally, that means being independent, not asking for help, and being aggressive. According to multiple studies, the enforcement of gender norms are one of the biggest causes of fights in school. Boys want to fulfill that gender norm that says they should be tough and dominant. These norms are also one of the main causes of bullying. If a boy participates in any activity characterized as feminine, like joining the dance team or painting their nails, they are belittled and slandered. That bullying is a perfect example of toxic masculinity, and it is harmful to everyone in society, especially women.

Gender norms do a great job of causing women to feel inferior. Girls are told from a young age that they can’t be aggressive, they have to be soft and feminine. They can’t be blunt or go after what they want because they must be tactful and understanding. They can’t be worldly because the world is dangerous, so they should just stay home. These norms teach women to be easy targets and to give too much of themselves. They are holding people, especially women, back. Just the fact that these norms are still upheld and expected is demeaning towards women. 

    I am aware that there are inherent differences between the two biological sexes. However, they are things like chromosomes and development speed, not things like a preference for painted nails or an interest in guns. Girls are not born wanting perfect makeup. Boys are not born wanting to play football. These are ideas that are forced upon us by society at a young age. We grow up with these ideas and norms and we just take them as fact. We can’t keep on this track and expect to achieve gender equality any time soon. 

Gender norms do not define people, even though our society might say they do.  Especially in this day and age, these societal norms cannot continue to hold such sway. Getting stuck in the grasp of these outdated ideas will hold our society back. It is our generation’s turn to decide how society will function. It is up to us to decide whether we will continue to worship these gender norms or pave a way for everyone to be treated equally regardless of gender.