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These days, gender roles are challenged constantly. With the rise of virtual relations and social media, what hope is there to define what’s normal behavior anymore?
Let’s try to grasp what’s the meaning behind masculine and feminine, first – in the general sense of the words.
We impose roles upon ourselves based on our gender, therefore a masculine person would be someone with leadership skills, a courageous individual who can become defensive and self-reliant if need be. See how this could apply to any gender? It’s not stated that these traits should only belong to men. But generally speaking, men with these qualities will appeal to women with the characteristically feminine qualities.
Speaking of which, we are taught to associate femininity with a desire to care for someone, a gentle, motherlike attitude. Expressing emotions and being sensitive is not looked down upon. There seems to be a conception that a feminine personality requires a masculine personality to balance each other out.
But what happens if we turn it around? Will masculine women find feminine men appealing in the long run? There must be a line we have to draw when it comes to this, and it is best to pick up and teach an equal amount of qualities from both genders for children, if possible.
Are there any disadvantages to raising our children with these thoughts in mind?
It seems obvious that nowadays people picked up on encouraging their children to behave in a more empathetic way towards one another – learning characteristics of sensitivity and helpfulness. These positive behavioral traits are not dependent on gender, but are they beneficial in the long run?
There is a fine line between letting children express themselves and learning things that would make their life harder later on. By picking whatever clothes they feel like wearing – whether it’s a boy wearing a pink t-shirt or a girl wearing a hoodie with cars on it, we encourage neutrality in them regards to gender. Problems arise when they enter environments where this is not widely accepted yet, as in peer-pressure to behave stereotypically in schools.
Masculinity is still associated with a high level of self-esteem and a greater chance to succeed in life. But it seems more likely that it’s better to border on the line of androgyny when it comes to blending both masculine and feminine traits! Empathy is a very valuable skill to have in life as well, both professionally and relationships-wise.
While women find it more and more useful to ease into masculine behaviors, such as studying leadership skills and taking up professions previously dominated by men, it might be a bit more complicated for men to accept and use feminine qualities in life. For children, this dilemma will start very early on, when first thoughts arise about what hobbies they would like to try and what professions they would like to have.
How to encourage children to follow their dreams, even if it means challenging gender rules?
What’s stopping a boy from becoming a ballet dancer? Or a girl becoming a fighter pilot? Societal norms. If we try our best to provide children with a safe background to rely on, there shouldn’t be anything standing in their way of self-expression.
The most important thing, in this case, is to lead by example. We don’t need to raise our daughters to be aggressive, self-centered or pushy as much as we don’t want our sons to be over-emotional or naive. Society needs to be challenged in a way that it becomes natural to think of qualities as what they are – simple personality traits that you don’t have to have just because you were born male or female. Cultivating the natural qualities in children can lead to some amazing life paths. There is no need to suppress traits that can take a positive turn at the moment someone chooses the way that feels right for them.
Imagine a flight that has an all-female crew, for example! It is more and more likely these days, but people still feel a bit shocked that women can handle such important and responsible jobs. They still had to advance the same way as men do in the same profession and therefore they have become just as qualified. The same applies to men, they should be free to pick up stereotypically female-dominated professions, too. No need to push them into corporate jobs, if they never had any interest in them in the first place.
Leading European countries such as Sweden, for example, are well on their way of implementing gender-neutral pre-shools. That time period for children is crucial to experiment with their role in a community, and not just in the case of genders. And parents are just as important in observing their children’s wants and needs, gently guiding them in a way that will let them become who they were meant to be. Getting rid of toxic masculinity and overzealous feminism begins with finding this stability. It will certainly be easier once schools adopt this philosophy as well, putting a stop to senseless bullying and harassment if a child is a bit different than what is thought of as ordinary these days.
Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie are leading an example of letting their kids express themselves in a way that is fulfilling to them, and not forcing them to adapt personas just because they were the norm for as long as we know it!
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