Are Men Held To Unrealistic Standards in Terms of Gender Stereotypes and Expectations
When people think of gender inequality and unfair standards they usually think of woman and the struggles they have endured and continue to endure in the world. They faced gender stereotypes like a woman’s place in in the kitchen or the home not in the working man’s world. They still continue to face a world that holds them to different expectations. We don’t often stop to think of the struggle men are constantly dealing with. The truth is men also face their own challenges to try standing outside of the normal expectations and not be labeled a stereotypical man. This problem isn’t even a new one or one we face as adults, in fact gender roles begin at birth, or now with advanced technology they begin when a person knows what sex they are having. They plan for a boy that will be tough and play sports, and a girl that wears pink and is perfect in every aspect of cooking and cleaning all the way from playing as a child. Family is a major contributor to gender roles but it is constantly instilled in school, media, and even peers. You are expected to be a certain way with certain interests if you are a girl or a boy. This continues to follow you through life.
What is gender really?
Gender is nothing more than a legal term that helps us identify if a person is a man, woman, girl or boy (www.plannedparenthood.com). This is very different than what is considered our gender identity which is pretty self-explanatory it is the gender we most identify with. How we talk, act, and feel naturally all makes up with the gender we identify with and helps us to identify as womanly or manly. Gender identity is different from our gender because it has no basis from what sexual organs we are born with and is more based on how we feel inside.
What are gender roles?
Gender roles are not a natural way of being but rather something that is socially acceptable by society. In the United States it is widely considered that male gender should be strong, dominant and aggressive. They tend to be considered to be unable to comprehend the same emotions that females do when it comes to love but are thought of as the breadwinner because society sees them as the workers dominantly over the females. Men are not expected or accepted for the most part to be playing the housewife role while the woman goes off to work. In fact there are very few house husbands because despite the fact that many women will argue their work is just as hard as a day at the office, in fact some argue it is harder, most men find this role emasculating because of the way society looks at them. If a man doesn’t work most people don’t think it is a choice he made to stay home but rather a forced happening because of failure to work and provide for his family. These gender roles are present because of a general stereotype and not in fact because of a natural way of life for each gender. That is to say that a man doesn’t naturally come out knowing that he will work hard and earn money, society nurtures this thought and instills as well as expects it.
Another specific stereotype is that men don’t cry. Men do cry every person has feelings and emotions and crying is a healthy outlet for some of these feelings. The problem is other peoples in society find this behavior strange and unacceptable even taunting young boys telling them that because they are a boy or a man that this emotion is invalid and unacceptable. It can even hurt a man in the dating world to be in touch with his emotions because women expect them to be big and strong never flinching at a fear or letting out a tear, no matter the pressure or stress he may be under. Emotional outburst are absolutely not acceptable from a man in our society and in fact if he was to have one, even if it was the same type a woman would have, it would probably be deemed that the man was emotionally unstable or homosexual.
For men that are more feminine and even men who are homosexual or transgender(which means they identify as a female), they face major discrimination and social outcast because they do not fit in with the rest of the people who expect men and woman to assume only the roles that have been forever accepted. It is because of these stereotypes and expectations that we continue as a society to struggle over feeling like there is inequality on both sides of the gender playing field.
How does family affect views on gender?
When it comes to family it is well known that girls are always treated differently in our homes than boys. Boys are bought certain toys that are socially acceptable for them like trucks, trains and guns. They are expected to dress up in pants, wearing hats and anything that will help identify their gender for the rest of society. Their hair is generally kept fairly short and it is okay if they get a little dirty because after all boys will be boys. It is generally accepted that boys will get in more trouble than girls as teens, yet we continue to not monitor them as closely as girls because they are boys and we ourselves see them as stronger and more capable of self-defense. Boys play sports that let’s face it still haven’t opened up as an opportunity for any professional chance as a woman like football. These mostly sound like they favor men but in fact it can be quite a burden to live up to these expectations if nothing above has ever interested you.
After all of this is drilled into a young man’s head about his role in society he also has to deal with the fact that his family will always treat him different than his sisters. He will have less of a watchful eye because he can protect himself at least according to the norm. The problem is that this can lead to feelings of isolation, favoritism and even may support bad decision making that would not have been an option if there was more supervision available. If you are a boy who is really good at ballet, singing, gymnastics etc. you may not get recognition and in fact you may end up outright ignored and your young talent could be wasted. If you find a way to follow this talent into your adulthood you may find it hard to seek support and recognition from your family because you are different from what they expected when they raised you as a young boy.
How the media influences gender
The media has a huge influence on gender roles, expectations, and stereotypes. When the media depicts a man they may use a sexy man in a commercial for something to grab a woman’s attention. These men usually have a very masculine build and hold there self-up like they are strong and a protector. You never watch something that depicts a woman saving a man it is always a man saving a damsel in distress. This holds men to an unrealistic standard expecting them to always be in a hero role and position. When we watch these films we set our standards to wanting what we see and women will expect there man to be strong and save them from any imminent danger which puts a lot of pressure on men to live up to that standard.
Romantic movies are also a form of stereotype in the media. They depict men who fall deeply in love with one woman and treat her like a queen. The men in these movies rarely make any type of human mistake and when they do they have some extravagant way of making up for it. This holds men to a standard of perfection that is unattainable. Women watch these movies and expect a perfect man that dotes after her and never makes any mistakes. He will shower her with affection, candlelit bubble baths, buy her roses constantly. When a woman doesn’t get this constant affection and special treatment she assumes that the man she is with is not that interested in her. Her logic is unfounded as she is basing it off of something made up that she saw on television that has no actual basis in a real life situation. This also leads into sexual expectations which are portrayed on television as something that men are the aggressors in and have complete control over. So a man is not only expected to be romantic but also to take complete control in all sexual situations because as far as media is concerned men control and define the relationship and a woman’s role is to be spoiled and taken care of. This really is an unrealistic assumption that men have no needs or wants, no emotions or feelings. They are only seen as the ones in charge and complete control almost like they are meant to be in charge of woman. That is a lot to expect of one man or even one person.
How instructors have on unfair gender expectations
Schools have a huge impact on young minds developing their own sense of gender bias as they also have gender role stereotypes. For example young girls are considered caring, nurturing and helpful, while young boys are considered rowdy. Girls are also considered to do well in school because they work hard and boys are considered intelligent if they do well. Boys also are considered naturally capable of answering more questions leaving the teacher to target questions directed toward the class to males, so when a male answers a question they are rewarded for this behavior even if they are wrong. They are generally expected to speak up and participate more while female students are expected to take a more helpful and quiet role in the learning process. This kind of stereotyping has a very huge impact and influence on a student’s success and ability to see there achievements as well as overcome failure.
Men versus Women
There are some stereotypes no matter how wrong where men seem to come out on top, for instance in a work setting men are more likely to get promotions and be put in charge than a woman is. Men have more options and opportunities available to them when it comes to a position being a leader. This perception derives from the perception that men are more prone to take charge of a situation and this directly affects a woman’s ability to have a chance at assuming a leading role in a company. This doesn’t necessarily mean woman lack leadership skills it just means that they are not usually given the opportunity to showcase the skills they have developed because they are overlooked as people who are just different and not naturally equipped to handle such a situation. This is literally supported by evidence showing women have earned almost sixty percent of current master’s degrees yet they only have 16 percent of positions available for these degrees (Prime, Jeanine p.3). This stereotype gives a significant advantage to men or once again puts an unrealistic expectation for a man to be ready to lead and be promoted in a company. Men may receive a harder work load as they are expected to assume this type of position with the company and they are pushed to achieve that. Having such an unrealistic workload can put pressure on a man and cause him to fail which may even lead to depression because of constant failure. It is a set up and if a man cannot amount to what is expected then in the social society we live in here is a failure and not trying.
Do men deal with bias and inequality more than woman?
Men do deal with a lot of sexual stereotypes, bias and inequality as I have discussed, but it seems that the stereotypical bias is just as terrifying for woman. In fact the stereotypes end up putting men in women in a direct fight with each other for an end to theses stereotypes. The concept can be easily identified with when discussing sexual behavior. A man is expected to be masculine and have an attitude toward woman that is labeled as womanizing. If he treats her with respect and dignity he will be made fun of by his peers that he has no game and needs his man card revoked. On the exact opposite side of the table is a woman who is expected by social norms to be faithful and dedicated to her relationship. If she was to display traits that are normally acceptable from a man she would be considered a trouble maker, a vixen, and someone who has loose morals. Both of these people can be displaying the same behavior and the views on what are acceptable are completely opposite. Some other stereotypes that are completely based on societies views and opinions of acceptable behavior are that men are relatively more sexual than woman who takes no interest in sex and men view woman as objects while woman remain anagamous. These are just a few but they drive the point home on how people can shape other people the way they see as normal and acceptable or the person will have to face the consequences of braking out of the norm. In short both men and woman are in an equality battle that is set against them until they can accept that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
One thing that can help change this predetermined acceptance to a warped society is taking a look at yourself and assuming responsibility for your own stereotype of others and yourself. I too am guilty of seeing men as dominant and woman as homemakers. I do not necessarily practice that thought in my life but it is in my mind that this is the way it is supposed to be. Any deviation of this norm has led to serious repercussions at every turn. The only thing left to do is try not to look at a man and expect him to be masculine or a woman and expect her to be submissive. It is equally important not to judge those who have found a way to step out of this normal society and be different. Different is not necessarily a bad thing and normal can be kind of boring anyway. Realizing that men and women deal with these struggles equally really puts things into perspective and makes you see things from the other sexes eyes which helps a person better understand their own feelings about stereotyping the opposite sex, or even your own children who don’t see the differences in the world until you point them out and expect a certain type of normal behavior. Men and woman are more alike than different both striving for the same things and we are too busy designing what is acceptable to accept the way a person naturally is and feels.
What does this mean for boys and men?
All of the stereotyping and expectations of both boys and men’s is entirely too much pressure. It means that they will never have a fair opportunity to do whatever they want in life. This treatment suppresses there creativity and abilities by expecting only what is considered normal and punishing or looking down on anything done outside of this realm. The pressure from parents takes away their chance to find their own identity and like things that they chose to like rather than what they decided. They do not get to pick their toys, and are instead given a set amount of options of toys that are acceptable for boys to play with. Taking the opportunity away to play with a doll or kitchen set which is typically considered a girls toy takes away from there opportunity to be self-reliant and able to contribute in whatever role he chooses when he becomes a father.
The Medias portrayal of what a man is puts added pressure and unrealistic standards and expectations very bluntly on the front page. They portray male figures in certain jobs; these men have perfect bodies and hair, and tend to be romantically inclined as well as masculine independent and strong. This is a huge set of shoes to fill when you grow up watching shows that never portray a man as a nurse, secretary, or anything considered feminine. This limits a man’s creative side and leaves him with a set of expected options if he shall seek out a mate one day. He knows that the media expects him to be strong, brave, romantic, and pretty much perfect or he is abnormal. To be abnormal is every child’s biggest fear you will do anything not to stand out or be ridiculed and so these boys never stand a chance when it comes to deciding what they will be when they become men because there is a small list of acceptable things that make everyone proud already decided for them.
What are the findings?
In the end the truth is there is stereotyping everywhere. It is equally depriving for both men and woman. The difference can be said that you don’t hear a lot about men being stereotyped or expected too much of, or maybe we do hear it but turn a blind eye falling into the social norm of not accepting a man that would cry out about this stereotyping and bias because to everyone it is unacceptable for a man to complain. Perhaps we don’t listen or pay attention because for woman they feel that men are treated better and for men they are brainwashed into thinking a real man would not complain. Nonetheless it is a serious problem and the seriousness of the situation is that no one will be able to embrace equality until we can also accept that we are not that different and it is okay. We can both want to be the caretaker, we can both want to be the breadwinner it is okay and completely acceptable as well as normal if you care to use such a word in a situation where being normal is the problem in the first place. The point is being in these positions does not take anything away from a person’s sexuality or gender it in fact makes them stronger to be able to stand up against society and have the courage to be anything that they wish to aspire to despite constant rejection and ridicule from the rest of the lemmings in the world. Embracing change may even open a door that will allow us to understand each other and treat each other as the equals we have all been fighting for so long to become.
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