“What do you expect? I’m a man.”
“You women all love to shop.”
“Women are more nurturing than men.”
“Men don’t go to the doctor.”
These are just some examples of what I hear people say when in conversations about men and women.
Husbands complain about wives, wives complain about husbands. Girls complain about boys, boys complain about girls.
It’s said that boys like trucks and girls play with dolls. Women should be in the kitchen and men belong in the garage.
Our viewpoints on the opposite sex form at a young age and often, unconsciously. Maybe it is because we overhear family and friends talking, or maybe it is because of what we see on television. There are too many variables to know for sure, but it is certain that we are at risk for these opinions becoming our own if we are the product of environments where these beliefs are prevalent.
Stereotypes are real. If you tune in and pay close attention to what you see and hear each day, you will note this subtle bias in our society.
It’s a struggle for me. With time, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and count to ten when these gender comments are casually tossed around. I’ve come to realize that my experience was not the norm and diving into the depths of this discussion isn’t often desired or welcomed. And here’s why.
I am not the stereotypical female who was raised by the stereotypical male and female. I was not taught that men had a specific role to play and women had a different one.
My father held a position that was historically a male job, yet decorates with a female touch. My mother wouldn’t go to the doctor and lived in denial when it came to health issues, yet this is said to be a male trait. My father is emotional, my mother not so much. My mother dismisses, my father nurtures. My father listens, my mother, “What did you say?” Not the stereotypical heterosexual parents.
As for me, I don’t ask for directions, just like the guys. I hate to shop, unlike the gals. I’ll never ask you if I look fat in an outfit because chances are, I wouldn’t have put it on if I thought I did. And I’m a fixer which probably makes me a terrible friend for females. Despite my efforts to resist, I am wired to solve problems. Rather than soothe your emotions, I opt to solve them. I’m working on this, my friends.
There are biological and physiological differences between males and females, that’s a fact. But when it comes to gender, much research has been and continues to be conducted on the relationship between gender and emotional expression. Males and females (some, not all) do express emotions differently, however, psychological research has demonstrated that these observations primarily stem from socialized gender roles. It is quite often the result of nature vs. nurture.
Our sex should not be used as a copout. We shouldn’t be so willing to pull out the male or female card when it comes to being a genuine human. If our end goal sincerely is meeting the right match, improving our relationships and finding balance in our partnerships, isn’t it time we honor our true selves? Shouldn’t we make an effort to be the best people we can be, removing the male and female labels that we can mindlessly stick on?
Each man and woman is unique. We are complex beings, the intricacies of our personalities countless. Even if we exhibit some gendered traits, it doesn’t mean we have them all. Generalizations can rob us of truly getting to know someone as an individual.
When we stereotype, we lose. We only see the surface and don’t peel back the many layers that reveal a person’s mind, heart and soul. We fall into the trap of bias and preconceived notions, opinions that may not even be our own.
Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. There doesn’t have to be a battle of the sexes. We are humans here on Earth, all wanting to be seen, heard and respected for who we are – not the stereotypical role others have cast us in.