To be far from achieving something.
A tendency to be partial.
A small magazine featuring pictures and information about products.
A group of people, normally a family, who live together.
A negative reaction to something, normally on a public scale.
Connector used to mention the last item on a list.
To be the main reason for something.
To take active part in a cause, often of a social nature.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the role working women play in our society and, above all, seeks to raise awareness about gender inequality. While there has been some progress in terms of how women are regarded in society, it would be optimistic to assume the problem is over: we still have a long way to go to fully eradicate gender stereotyping.
One of the main problems with gender stereotypes is that, while some of them might be obvious, others have been so deeply internalised that it is hard for us to notice certain cases of bias. In today’s article we will be exploring some of these common issues – you might find them surprising!
To start with, the media has a direct impact on many aspects of our lives, including gender roles. A clear example is the way toys are advertised: it is still fairly common to find ads and promotional brochures showing boys playing with trucks or tools, whereas toys aimed at girls tend to be things like kitchen sets and baby dolls. Through advertising, children are conditioned to believe that certain toys belong to a certain gender, and they might even feel conflicted about liking something they’re not supposed to. Just as there is nothing wrong with a boy playing with dolls, there isn’t anything wrong with a girl playing with a kitchen… as long as it’s her choice to do so!
Gender stereotypes are also present in sports: how many female sportspeople are famous on a worldwide scale? We subconsciously tend to assume that some sports are out of women’s reach and, even when they take active part in competitions, they rarely get major exposure. A few months ago, it was rumoured that football player Meghan Rapinoe would be featured on the cover of the new FIFA game… and, while there is no way to know if she was actually considered as an option, the ensuing backlash showed the underlying prejudices in sports.
Related to toys and gender representation, domestic chores still represent a key issue we need to confront. Men have gradually begun to adopt a more active role in the household, yet this doesn’t mean equality has been achieved. Sometimes, words speak louder than actions: men often boast about how much they ‘help’ their wives and, in fact, it isn’t unusual to hear women thank their partners. Gender stereotypes are also transmitted through the way we speak – the use of‘help’ implies the idea that housework is the realm of women. It is important that we emphasise the importance of equal collaboration even in ordinary conversations – maybe by saying you ‘do’ certain chores rather than ‘helping’ your partner.
Last but not least, body inclusivity must also be borne in mind. While it is true that we are more conscious of different body types nowadays, there are still widely held misconceptions about this issue. We still place a lot emphasis on being beach body ready (or, as we would say in Spanish, Operación Bikini), which proves that we still expect women to look a certain way. One could argue that men are subjected to the same standards, yet it is still way harder for women to feel fully comfortable not only at the beach, but with their bodies on a daily basis. Once again, advertising and representation play a key role in the way we view others… and ourselves!
We’ve had a quick look at some gender-related issues that remain present in our lives, but what exactly can we do to fight them? It all boils down to two key concepts: awareness and action. We need to re-evaluate the way we behave, the kind of language we use and the way we interact with people, men and women alike. It is impossible to change our ways from one day to the next, but there’s nothing we can’t do if we take steps slowly, yet assuredly.
The best way to celebrate International Women’s Day is, in short, by taking a stand. We all have to contribute and help make a change. It’s all up to you!