Gender roles and stereotypes are all around us. The expectations that men or women must be a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way to be men or women. For women, the driving message is that we must be what society considers “sexy” to have worth or value as a woman. I know among my clients there are so many who suffer from eating disorders, low self-esteem, and addictions, not to mention the number of women who don’t take on big projects, or pass up opportunities for the simple reason that they don’t believe in themselves. The change has to come from us – from consumers. I don’t believe any big corporation is going to voluntarily stop sexualizing women, stop using women’s own fears and insecurities to sell us face cream or plastic surgery or really take any steps to change their impact on the images that both young women and young men see on a day to day basis.
We as consumers have to actually tell companies that we aren’t interested in their blanket perpetuation of gender roles and stereotypes. That we won’t buy products that are marketed in this way, that we want to see real women. Women who actually look like women you might see at work, in the office or in the grocery store. In supporting businesses that value women as people, not as objects or pretty things. This lack of gender roles and stereotypes should extend to their business practices too, we should spend our money with companies that actually treat women and men equally.
Here are the images we see daily – this is how we think of women:
Here’s a trailer for the Film Missrepresentation, a look at how gender roles and stereotypes and media bias perpetuate gender differences and gender inequality in America:
And on a final note, the women in our culture aren’t the only ones to suffer from gender roles and stereotypes. Here’s how we teach our boys to “be a man:”
I can’t claim innocence – of course I have held men that I’ve dated to the “man” standard. In my weakest moments I am completely capable of judging myself by the “woman” standard. I don’t always shop consciously or act as an informed consumer. I don’t always boycott the magazines that are exploitative to women, but I’m getting better. It’s a process. Maybe you can join me and we can help each other?