Sunday 12 September 2010

Working hard to reverse stereotypes

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we were fighting stereotypes and tags attached to a specific gender or group. But now that is gradually becoming passe. Now, we have left stereotypes and are working pretty hard to reverse stereotypes.

Branding a woman with specific colours, chores, views and jobs, though still exist are giving way to something else. People, these days try to defy what is stereotyped about them and work hard to present a 'different' view. Now this is not something 'bad' or 'uncalled for.' But the very idea of defying stereotypes is slowly becoming a compulsive obsession. For example, the colour 'pink' is always seen as a woman's colour. But despite the fact that some women love the colour, they opt for other colours which do not essentially carry the 'feminine' tag! In the process, one is trying to consciously reverse stereotypes.

It is remarkable that in many issues, stereotypes are gradually melting. But I wonder whether going against stereotypes leads one to consciously avoid certain things that one loves and wishes to adhere to. If a woman feels good about getting manicures and pedicures, it does not point to the fact that she is very feminine and loves to pamper herself. Even if she loves to pamper herself, why not. Is it a stereotype that women who admit that they love the beauty parlours are vain and overtly feminine. No. A man may pamper himself by discussing about politics passionately but does that limit politics to men alone? No.

When I look around, I see many women who say: "I don't much like the colour pink, you know. They call it a feminine colour but I prefer black." I have often felt like asking: "Do you like black because it is not a feminine colour or because you genuinely like it?" This is but one example. There are many all around us if we care to look.

These days men try pretty hard to assist women in chores around the house. Why? Of course they care but they are also aware of the stereotype that is merged with their sex: Men don't involve with the chores around the house. Again a case of trying hard.

Well, as much as I am against stereotyping, I am also in chagrin of trying hard to go against stereotyping. On second thoughts, maybe trying hard to break stereotypes will help in complete wiping out the old stereotypes before the new ones come searching. A case of standing between the devil and the deep blue sea!!!

Image courtesy: Internet


  1. Wonderful post Susan. I liked the bit on Men helping women in their daily chores but I feel its still very cosmetic.

    Despite the average man’s gradual realisation that gender roles are a-changing and have been for a while now, mothers and wives in the traditional family have always and still carry the responsibility of the cook. The day starts with these women rising early in order to prepare a breakfast, coax her family out of warm beds, and gather them around the breakfast table. Imagine how many men ( or atleast Indian men) are game for this?

  2. I think you raise an interesting and valid point, Susan. Of course, stereotypes are a bad thing and one should never generalise a whole group of people. But often, people do actively work against stereotypes and therefore do and say things that aren't natural to them.

    For instance, I'm reading a bit of light fiction at the moment wherein a boy's mother makes him paint his room pink and not play with toy cars in an effort to dispel gender stereotypes. But this makes the boy miserable.

    I think the best way to combat stereotypes is for people to simply be themselves - and it doesn't matter if their true self complies or disagrees with a certain stereotype.

  3. I wrote an entire post on defying gender stereotypes after being tagged by another blogger, but I completely agree with Sam. What's more important is being yourself -- we're socially conditioned (and raised) to conform to some things, but as we grow older, wiser, and are able to introspect and truly discover "our" selves, we begin to do things, make choices, have conversations that don't need a label of any kind.

  4. I think we go through different stages before we become the person we are.
    We are socially conditioned at a young age so as to avoid the intolerance from peers and the hurtful bullying.
    The end result is personal. What matters is the self.

  5. well, i help with the chores because my wife thinks it is rather sexy, honestly. smiles. but i do get what you are saying...i think some of it is not bad, but some just seems...i dunno...a denial of self which gets into to dangerous territory..

  6. I found you over at Brian's and I am going to bookmark this page and come back when I can spend more time reading. I loved what you had to say in your profile. I, too, loved Cinema Paradiso! Great, great movie.

  7. oh I love colour black and that too genuinely :)

    I hear you saying Suz..thin line actually in being natural and trying hard :)

  8. Tariq:

    Great to see a comment from you. You know all this talk of stereotypes and everything is applicable only to a select strata of people. So I see the point you have mentioned. It happens like that everywhere except the limited percentage of the so-called "educated" people (that too not entirely). You have given a worthwhile addition to this post.


    "People simply being themselves" are a rare breed to come by these days. I think age also has a lot to contribute to this factor.

  9. Mansi:

    I did read that post you wrote. As I mentioned to Sam, people whoa re natural are a rare species. Everyone seems constructed and premeditated on what to say, how to dress and so on. You have rightly mentioned that as we grow older, we become comfortable with who we are.


    True. Age matters a lot in this aspect of stereotypes. The true self emerges quite late for some!!

  10. Brian:

    Your comments like your posts always make me smile first and then think.


    Welcome to the meanderings. Hope you like what you have bookmarked. Would love to hear your thoughts on the issue discussed here. Shall await your insights. And, "Cinema Paradiso": Toto!!! How can anyone not like that film!

  11. Nu:

    Ah, I love black as well. The thin line is always blurred, you see. And many pretend that it simply does not exist.

  12. I love being a woman, with everything it includes.;) Even wearing pink at times.;) And I want a man to be a man.;) I want the man to wear the pants, so to speak, hehe.;)) But with that said, I also think a woman should be independent and capable and still retaining her femininity.;)
    I really like that there is a respectful difference between the genders and what they stand for, without going back to the middle ages.
    You always come up with the greatest subjects Susan.;)
    Have a lovely Monday,

  13. I love your take on this, Zuzana. But being feminine is so repulsed by many. One should strike a balance between stereotyping and living life the way one wants. Even I think that two genders have differences and certain traits associated with them, so why not let them be!
    When the roles are flexible and interchangeable, there shouldn't be any force of action.

    Joy always :)

  14. Interesting point and I guess we do consciously or subconsciously try hard to go against the stereotypes. But as you said in the end, what if fighting against the reverse stereotypes means we end back at sqaure one?? Great post.

    By the way, I do not like pink but that's because I do not like pink. :) I love black...always have. But I do like red and purple...other 'feminine' colours if you must :)

  15. PB:

    We are kindred souls in liking black. I have always liked Black in everything: clothes, vehicles, fonts, etc . . .
    Stereotypes or not, one should do what seems best to them. Sometimes knowing many things always creates confusion. Life in ignorance is best-lived, I reckon!

  16. Dearest Susan, I find it impossible to believe that stereotypes can ever be entirely removed from our daily living. After all, stereotypes do come in negative and positive, and they do help us to define the schemas that allow us to cope with all of the information that is constantly coming our way. I know that negative stereotyping can be quite damaging, but in that respect it is up to us to release ourselves from the negative thinking and turn the negative stereotype around on its head. It is easier said than done, for sure. But... that is our challenge.

    What a thought-provoking post, Susan. And enjoyable, as always!


  17. IMO
    Stereotypes will always exist... sometimes they are not something bad or a prejudice, just a fact.

    It's scientifically proved that women and men are different, for many different reasons I will not list here. Take for example, pilots... There are not many women pilots, not because they are not allowed to become pilots, but becasue there is something innate in them which do not atrack them to do risky jobs. That's generally speaking, that's why only about 5% of pilots are women.

    Women drive to go from one place to another, men usually do it for pleasure, again that's the general 'rule'. ME being an exception there >I love driving!

    And something I've found out to be a universal truth: Men cannot iron. They do it, but find it so difficult- not tiring boring- but difficult
    What I love is the exceptions to those general stereotypes...
    Love and hugs to you Susan!

  18. Good thoughts Deborah.

    We humans tend to do a lot of judging. That's one major purpose of stereotyping. We can then make blanket judgments about people.

    Too bad, huh?

    I wish we could individualize more, judge less and live and let live.

    Take care.

  19. Nevine:

    Yes, dear Nevine. Stereotypes will always be there. But stereotypes are paving way for the natural self to be tampered and constructed. Wonder which one is more harmful.
    Big hugs to you.


    Stereotypes are mind-boggling but so are reverse psychological stereotypes. Exceptions cease after a point. We come back to square one! Big hugs and much love dear sweetest :)

  20. Myrna:

    Thanks Myrna :)We wish for so many changes but time will tell us whether the changes will take place or not.

    Sad :(

  21. Most so-called vocal feminists I've met are very obedient to their societal stereotypes somehow in the confines of their homes! Ironic ;)

    But conscious efforts are good to do away with many stupid stereotypes handed over for generations running in the society!!

  22. I guess during those growing up years we wanted to be different, and hence detested any sort of stereotyping behaviour. Now though I am comfortable with whatever works for me...

  23. greetings dear susan - oh, lady, i was a sociology major and cannot even begin to start a dialogue on this subject which i find we - females - all fight every single day - and having raised 5 children, and having many more grandchildren and even great grandchildren, i find that things in their lives in terms of gender stereotyping at least are not too far different than 30 years ago - a sad state of affairs - for women and men - in any event, always thought-provoking posts over here - and neat discussions -

  24. The women who dares to break the stereotypes will be dubbed 'tomboy'. There is a lady here who drives Pulsar and smokes men's ciggarette
    Saif started a trend by wearing pink in a movie. But that didn't last long

  25. I think if one is true to oneself, the stereotypes will go away. Still, my husband did not like my daughter's first attempts at sentence-building when she was learning to read individual words, as in "work" (Mommy goes to work) and "wash" (Daddy does the wash). Hey, that was her reality in those days! She now knows about all the stereotypes.

  26. Ash:

    At last, my blog has been graced by your presence. Thanks and hugs. Vocal feminists are only VOCAL not PRACTICAL. I was quite fascinated by feminism when I first came across it but now it is passe. I am a feminist in my own way. Not propagandist, though.
    Hope you are having a great time. When are you back?
    Much love to you.


    Growing up years have a different story to tell. Now we are all grown and hmmmm, know what we want to do. Life gets easier by the day, or not?????

  27. Jenean:

    Greetings dear one. How nice to see you here and read your lovely comment! You might be having a cartload of experiences raising kids, grand kids and great grand kids. Hats off, Jenean! Human race is so complex but life is beautiful, nevertheless.


    Quite true.

  28. Elizabeth:

    Long, long time. Nice to see you. Hope you have been well. Many times one cannot be true to oneself while living in a society, Liz. Many times one has to compromise on certain aspects of life :)
    Joy always :)

  29. What a thought provoking post Susan!!...
    'steretotypes' phewww...they seem so ubiquitous!!!

  30. Ruchi:

    Quite a late reply. These days everyone is out to defy stereotypes by creating a new set of stereotypes. Well, what can I say. I can only write posts :)
    Joy always :)

  31. The post as well all the comments are good. If people start doing what their heart loves, everyone will have different tastes, creativity will increase, there will be no jealousies, etc. We humans should forget our tendency to imitate others but rather find what our heart or soul needs

  32. Wonderful post !! I second shalini's comment.. Yep I wish all individual must try out on what they are passionate about rather imitating..

  33. “I don’t much like the colour pink, you know. They call it a feminine colour but I prefer black.”

    What if it is just the plain truth? If you like pink and say so you are stereotyped as feminine, and if you don't like pink and frankly admit it, then too you are stereotyped as the 'feminine-stereotype-breaker'. A case of damned if you are and damned if you aren't? :)



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