#3 “Gender Stereotypes”. Otherwise Entitled “The Dumbest Thing in the World”

I have decided to pursue the topic  of gender stereotypes as a preliminary field of research. I have interviewed three people, my mother, Marion Wells, friend of the family, Jim Berg, and my brother, Toby Wells-Spackman.

Stereotypes can be defined as categorized cultural beliefs that certain groups should act a certain way. It also refers to a printed object from a mold, which reminds one of the idea that these stereotypes “mold” people into certain ways of being (Berg).

My very first question was to ask the participants to define the cultural stereotypes for each gender to the best of there ability, which was answered thusly:

My mother’s views were very similar to mine, which makes sense as my parents are the ones who taught me these views. She was very quick to make a list of some of the attributes which are culturally associated with females. According to her, these  ideas are conveyed to us every day via various media and are obviously drilled into our heads to the point where we can recite them. James Berg, another interviewee, said that he had heard these ideas from several parents and teachers.

The stereotypical girl was described as “dainty, princessy” (Wells), “pink, less creative” (Berg) and as interestingly put by my brother, not clean necessarily, but “not wanting to get dirty.”

On the other hand, the description of a stereotypical boy included adjectives such as  “rough, strong” (Wells) and athletic (Berg and Wells-Spackman). Berg also said that the stereotypical boy would be more likely to take physical risks and would be more attracted to mechanical workings than girls. He also pointed out that there is also a stereotypical tomboy which would be a girl who adheres more to the male stereotype.

These stereotypes are extremely dominant in our society. They show up in schools, particularly in American Football (as pointed out by Marion Wells) where we see large football players showing everyone that they are 100% ruff tuff stuff, and dainty, attractive cheerleaders supporting them. These stereotypes also show up in relationships, advertisements and many other things.

As the interviews continued  people voiced an increasing number of problems and few if any upsides stemming from stereotypes. Firstly, there are extra problems in this area for transgender persons, as they might feel constrained by both sets of gender norms, which would be extremely hard to deal with. Another example is that one of the participants was insulted  by a person that said he “threw like a girl” which he registered as an insult, but was not offended by it as it seemed completely normal. WHICH IS A BAD THING!!!!! It should not be an insult to be a girl. Obviously. Also, my brother once encountered a person wearing a shirt reading “girls rule, boys drool.” Looking back on it, he refers to it as “the dumbest thing in the World.” I personally think that’s quite accurate as this is both offensive and derogatory, as well as promoting gender imbalance.

Overall the interviewees and I agreed on the fact that stereotypes are negative. They are barriers keeping people from being themselves and causing hard feelings between people who look down on one of these stereotypes. Everyone should be free to express what they wish and act how they want (within reason obviously) to allow themselves to be happy.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Wells, Marion. “What’s the Story Gender Stereotype Interview.” Personal interview. 24 Sept. 2016.

Berg, James. “What’s the Story Gender Stereotype Interview.” Personal Interview. 24 Sept. 2016. 
Wells-Spackman, Toby. “What’s the Story Gender Stereotype Interview.” Personal interview. 25 Sept. 2016.
Theo Wells-Spackman

4 Responses to “#3 “Gender Stereotypes”. Otherwise Entitled “The Dumbest Thing in the World”

  • Hi Theo,

    Everything you and your interviewees said is so true. There are these set boundaries in place almost everywhere about what men do and what women do. Men talking about not wanting to “risk their masculinity” is also something common. It’s as if there are saying acting feminine in any way is a terrible thing. I encourage you to watch this video –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs about the phrase “Like a girl”. Another thing that you pointed out is that sometimes women are thought of as better than men, but that’s also not true. I think your goals are great, and for at least the next month or so, you’ll do really well with this topic.

    -Emily

  • Hi Theo,
    I was particularly interested in your brother’s reaction to that crazy T-shirt. It made me think and wonder about how students feel these stereotypes are perpetuated in our community. I know you’ve been thinking about this topic for some time, and I am curious how it will begin to narrow itself down for you…
    Sincerley,
    CK

  • Grace Widelitz
    4 years ago

    Theo,
    Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! It is much appreciated! Sorry my response is coming a bit late but at first I could not find your blog.

    I believe you have addressed a very important and somewhat forgotten issue in our society. Especially as a girl I see this happening and still hear the phrase “Like a girl,” being used frequently. There is a great commercial you should watch about this phrase…I will try and find the link for you.

    I also think it’s great you interviewed a variety of ages and genders, this is important for this topic in particular. Thank you for bringing up a very important topic! I think you will have great success and hope all goes well. See you in school!
    Grace

  • This is a great first dive into this subject, and I can tell you’re passionate about this. I am reminded of a TED talk I saw recently about how we can avoid gender stereotypes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZFNsJ0-aco). You mentioned how predominant these ideas are in our society, and you’re absolutely right. There are people who go to college and learn how to write commercials and make advertisements targeting these subconscious stereotypes. It’s astounding how many parts of our lives are affected by such ideas.
    I would encourage you to interview more people! Even a few simple questions to a friend or classmate can lend some great insight into this topic.
    I look forward to seeing how you narrow down your ideas!

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