Rigid Gender roles Hurt Men as well as women

Taking gender roles too seriously does more damage than you realize. A good example of the damage strict adherence to gender roles can cause would be the way male rape is portrayed in the media.

For example, “How I Met Your Mother” aired an episode called “The Pineapple Incident” in which Ted (one of the main characters) wakes up after a night of heavy drinking with a pineapple on one side of him and a mystery girl on the other. He doesn’t remember the night before and as his investigative work uncovers what happened we find that he went into the ladies room accidentally, struck up a conversation with a pretty (seemingly sober) girl, and got her number. He ends up using her number that same night to hook up with her. Funny right?

Here’s the thing, if you reverse the genders in the situation (“Ted-tiana gets blackout drunk and sleeps with a sober man) I guarantee that episode would’ve made a lot of us uncomfortable. Red flags would certainly be raised.

I don’t think the possibility that Ted was taken advantage of would cross most people’s minds. Which is terrifying, because it shows that when certain expectations are deeply ingrained enough it can be a cause to overlook things that are ethically wrong. How can you address a problem if your fundamental assumptions keep you from seeing it at all?

When I use the term “gender role” what comes to mind first? For me it’s a tall blond bombshell in heels pulling a tray of cookies out of the spotless oven, held together mostly with hairspray and crazy societal expectations.

But gender roles aren’t something that just affect those with an outdated mindset or stay at home wives. People have a variety of expectations and assumptions in every circle of our society based on which gender they were assigned at birth.

It really pisses me off how limiting that framework is.

We make assumptions about people and their behavior every day and there’s nothing wrong with that. Functioning in society without making any of those assumptions is currently impossible. The problem arises when we form solid impressions of the way someone should behave that we’re unwilling to revise as we get to know them individually.

When this happens what should be the useful tool of making a semi-accurate snap judgement, which helps you to interact comfortably with people you don’t yet know, turns into damaging bondage. Emotionally, practically and culturally.

It’s not just that gender roles shape the way we view others, they shape the way we view ourselves. So much of my identity is built around what kind of woman I’d like to be that it can get in the way of seeing what kind of person I’d like to be. This begins with a little pink or blue blanket at birth and becomes lifelong.

I can’t imagine what our society would look like today if we weren’t strapped to these gender specific cultural expectations – I’m sure I wouldn’t even recognize myself. I think that goes to show just how foundational these concepts are. These expectations themselves aren’t the problem, it’s our unwillingness as a society to accept when someone doesn’t fit neatly into their box that causes trouble.

Comments

In real life, men who get taken advantage of by women rape them back in retaliation. It's dangerous for women to rape men. Think about it. Women can get raped back in retaliation, especially if a woman rapes a male hooker on the streets for instance. It happens in the headlines. Women raping men and thus men raping them back or even killing them. Men are physically bigger and stronger as well as very intimidating that they can easily fight back against female rapists that women often turn to young boys instead because young boys cannot fight back as well as men can do to their smaller size and weak physical strength and boys are less intimidating as well. Men are difficult to subdue while boys are easier. Rape a man or you get raped back and/or killed.

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