Gender Stereotypes that Lead to Discrimination

Stereotypes always have a root. Gender stereotypes stem from how valued physical power was in ancient society. Men have more muscle mass than women, making them physically stronger, emphasis on physically. Post Industrial revolution the biggest issue to humans was survival. People died from disease, minor injury, and childbirth (the baby and the mother). In order to survive, people placed importance on two things: reproduction and physical strength. Before the industrial revolution there was no technology available to support society, such as tractors, cranes, etc. Men were responsible for hunting food, constructing buildings, and plowing fields, establishing them as the provider/breadwinner for the family. On the other hand, reproduction was also key to survival. Women dedicated their lives to giving birth to many children because most wouldn’t make it to adulthood. This placed them at home most of the time and gave women the designated role of caretaker. Today in modern societies these gender roles pervade, placing men in higher-paid power roles, while women are often homemakers/ in nurturing positions. However, these norms have created harmful stereotypes in modern society. The problem arises when people try to break social norms and they are beaten down by society.

In modern day society, gender discrimination is still a big problem for people around the world. Gender discrimination can be seen in families, life at school, Job wages, applications for work, and so much more. In the article Woman rights — Amnesty International it states “equal pay for the same work is a human right, but repeatedly women are denied access to a fair and equal wage. Recent figures show that women currently earn roughly 77% of what men earn for the same work. This leads to a lifetime of financial disparity for women.” After all this time women still have fight for equality, to have human rights. Another example of gender stereotypes can be found at home. The modern housewife! She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of the children and husband. This is what women were “meant to do”, this stereotype of women leads to the belief that women can’t be at the same level of men, let alone aspire to be better than them. Let us break these stereotypes, for everyone to have equality. A world where it doesn’t matter what gender you are and in which everyone gets the same chance for a positive future.

Discrimination based on gender stereotypes has been prevalent in court and government structures for centuries worldwide. An analysis on the leniency offenders get in court based on gender says “only women who engage in traditionally feminine offenses such as property crimes benefit from “chivalry” and that women who step out of the stereotypic role to commit more violent, personal offenses are actually treated more harshly than men” (Chesney-Lind, 1978). Statistics from recent years show oftentimes women are detained for minor offenses for which men would not be. On the contrary, women get better sentences than white men in court. The double standards for what offenses are permissible based on gender represent the strange ways our society deals with legal issues. Women’s rights and lives have been suppressed by social structures and laws ever since patriarchal views were introduced around 3100 BCE (5000 years ago). As mentioned in The Misogyny of Authoritarians in Contemporary Democracies 2021 “leaders have sought to keep women and minorities in their place, so that they may not threaten them or their political projects by, in some cases, transgressing the familial norms, or in other cases, by espousing progressive feminist causes.” Most government structures are built on the traditional rules of the patriarchy in which — to name a few — men are superior in social, economic, political, and religious settings. This directly affects the freedom and rules women have to live by. Dismissing women only encourages the continuation of a negative society blind to those who need help. There are still many obstacles to bringing equity among people within the world’s courts and governments, but there’s slow progress being made to put an end to gender discrimination every day.

Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates prejudice in topics such as race, class, and gender. Specifically, the novel highlights key gender stereotypes in Southern parts of the U.S. during the 1930s through Scout’s “tomboyish” nature. As Scout matures, criticism is increasingly aimed at her for not being a “proper lady.” From the way she dresses to her aggressive arguments with her peers, Scout is constantly reprimanded for a variety of characteristics that don’t follow the time’s gender norms. Not only is she arraigned for being too “boyish,” she slowly becomes rejected by the boys she hangs out with for showing stereotypical “feminine” qualities. Dill and Jem increasingly exclude her from their activities for “getting more like a girl every day” (Lee 58). Furthermore, their comments on her femininity from expressing concern when in dangerous situations show the gender prejudice believed at the time: girls were fragile and cowardly. Gender stereotypes were also displayed through Aunt Alexandra’s expectations of Scout’s femininity. Aunt Alexandra is a conventional woman who strictly enforces certain rules that adhere to gender stereotypes on Scout, such as her clothing. She was “fanatical on the subject of [Scout’s] attire,” and believed that she “could not possibly hope to be a lady if [she] wore breeches” (Lee 108). As Scout develops and matures throughout the course of the novel, she learns more about her identity and resists gender expectations forced upon her, ultimately becoming a unique character who doesn’t conform to the extreme ideals of masculinity or femininity.

​​There is no one solution or way to solve gender discrimination and inequality in our society; however, the world can take several steps towards gender equality by implementing codes of conduct within different communities. Codes of conduct are regulations that describe social standards and ethical obligations centered on a central concept. These rules are often centered around how we should treat others and notice different perspectives while having consideration of varying opinions. Codes of conduct should be implemented in jobs and companies by having no tolerance for gender discrimination. By not only trying to shape our society’s social standards to a more open and egalitarian way but also starting to shape kids in our world to help promote equality among all. Schools should start educating children about gender equality and valuing the respect we should have for each other at a young age. Children are the future of our generation, and if we don’t start educating them about issues in today’s society, this will become an ever-lasting problem.

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