Gender roles are the expected behaviours of different sexual orientations which are considered appropriate for them by any society. Gender roles are deeply imprinted in any society by the norms, culture, traditions and religious beliefs with the passage of time. They could contribute to being one of the major catalysts for the ever-growing gender discrimination in our society.
Gender roles are a label that keeps higher expectations from us. They determine how males and females are supposed to behave differently from each other. For instance, women are generally expected to be polite, indirect, feminine and compromising. However, a man is considered to be dominating, powerful, masculine, and bold.
While the gender roles vary through ethnic, cultural and national boundaries, they can also change in the same group over the course of time. Do you know pink used to be a masculine colour in the US and blue was considered feminine? My only question here, do you ever wonder what the actual reason behind this behaviour is?
Every day on Twitter, I see people tweeting sexist jokes. A moment later, that tweet turns into a never-ending chain of counter stances. If a man tweeted a misogynist joke, another woman will quickly counter-attack, defending her sex and the same happens vice versa.
A gender stereotype is like harmful pollutant in our society, which makes it difficult to achieve harmony. It is a boundary that limits you to a specific domain, thus making it difficult for people to express themselves openly. It induces a feeling among individuals that they are not as independent, smart, and experienced as they should be. It is like a rope around our neck that chokes our dreams, desires, and goals every day.
A girl is expected to be the “angel of home” doing house chores, sewing, studying and marrying when she comes of the age. While she is mostly confined to professions like Doctor, Teacher, and Artist, she is less likely to enter fields like air force, army, and mechanics. On the other hand, boys come with a “boys don’t cry” tag. They are expected to be bold, hard, rigid and insensitive. It is least expected from a boy to cry and if he does, he is on the hit list of social mockery.
Gender roles expect girls to marry a man of their parents’ choice and if they don’t, they are labelled as characterless or disobedient. Boys are expected to follow the footsteps of their fathers. If a man has worked day and night to build his business, his son is bound to take over. His son cannot be an artist or a soldier, but a businessman just like his father. Boys are taught to be perfect, to earn a higher income, to feed a family, and protect his family.
When we talk about any custom or norm of the society, we must keep this thing in our mind that it is we, ourselves who make these traditions. Our social practices, what we actually do, determine who we are and where we stand at the moment, how we think about and perceive several aspects and why.
The motive of this article is to discuss a major social practice that is fancied by many mothers and fathers today. It is widely known as “gender reveal party” in which the mother surprises the father by revealing the gender of their upcoming baby. This trend came into force roughly around 2008 when the first video of gender reveal party was uploaded on YouTube. Hafner (2017) also describes gender reveal parties as perpetuating the gender roles and stereotypes by using phrases like “Wheels or Heels” and “rifles or ruffles”.
Gender reveal parties are a fancy celebration with a very unique way to reveal the gender of the upcoming baby. It isn’t the usual ultra-sound displaying technique, instead, colours are used to depict the gender. Most of the time, these parties revolve around that special moment of mystery when the guardians cut the cake, pop the balloons filled with pink or blue confetti, hit a coloured powder-filled baseball or even set off firecrackers to see whether they are expecting a girl or a boy.
The blue colour is affiliated with the boys while pink welcomes a pretty girl. Some parents cut the cake that covering the blue or pink ganash filled inside. Upon cutting the cake, if the cake is stuffed with blue ganash, it’s a boy, otherwise a girl. While the genders are being stereotyped with the colours just before they are born, there is a worldwide dilemma that needs to be concerned. We can see umpteen frames, brochures and banners at the party saying catchy phrases like “Tractors or Tiaras”, “Guns or Glitters”, “Rifles or Ruffles”, “Wheels or Heels”, “Pink or Blue”, “Bow or Beau”, “Staches or Lashes”, “Baseballs or Bows” “Ties or Pearls” and many others.
The only point to highlight here is that the gender reveal parties are becoming a soaring trend nowadays but is substantially triggering gender discrimination. Social practices determine who we are, what we like, what we want and where we stand. While the majority of the women come out in the streets on Women’s Day, struggling for their equal rights day and night, such social practices are deeply imprinting the sexual stereotypes and gender roles in the minds of our young generation. While we are educating our children about gender equality and banishing the boundaries of discrimination, at the same time we are making them fancy gender roles.
Daily, I watch boys getting mocked by the girls about wearing pink just because it is [supposedly] the colour for feminity. There is no doubt that girls posing with guns have millions of male comments saying “this is too dangerous for you babe”. Until and unless we won’t stop such social practices, there is no way we are getting rid of the pink and blue gender cards.
Zarbakht Bilal is a Published Author at DailyTimes, a Blogger, Researcher, Free Lancer, and a Volunteer Teacher at I Feel charity school. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Air University, Islamabad. She is cynically optimistic and hopes to bring positivity in this world. She loves reading, writing and to discover the magic inside others. She has a strong motive for the writer’s community empowerment.