Before we are born, our parents have the opportunity to know if we are male or female. This gives them the chance to plan for the color of the nursery, clothing, toys, and more. Boys will get a blue-themed nursery, trucks and toy cars, and clothing with "boy" slurs and dinosaurs. Girls get a pink-themed nursery, dolls and teddy bears, and clothing with bows, flowers, and polka dots. This begins what our society calls gender roles.
The gender stereotypes of a woman in America aroused the feminist movement to advocate for the equal rights of women. Some of those stereotypes or roles for a woman include the following:
- Women are supposed to have "clean jobs" such as secretaries, teachers, librarians, and nurses. Not doctors.
- Women are not as strong as men.
- Women are supposed to make less money than men.
- Women don't need to go to college.
- Women are quiet and not meant to speak out and are to be submissive and do as they are told.
- Women are supposed to cook, do housework, and raise the children.
All of these stereotypes or roles placed on the woman are outdated and are unconsciously used by parents during their children's infancy.
I feel that gender roles can hinder my success in life because of the predetermined characteristics that I am supposed to uphold. This influences me to continue to strive for greatness because our nation is not accustomed to having women in high positions; hence our lack of a history of a female president. We are said to be the land of opportunity and the free; however, we have yet to discard the tradition of men always being in charge. Women deserve as much respect as a man receives on a daily basis. It is understandable that men can do certain things women cannot, but women can do certain things that men are unable to do.
As a double-minority, female and black, I have separate stereotypes from being just a woman. The media has a great hand in showing black women as angry, alone, strong, "ghetto," independent, and more characteristics that do not fit the entirety of black women in America.
In order to remind myself that these images do not define me, I refer to myself as a Queen. This is not to put down other races or genders, but to reaffirm my worth. This affirmation insists my importance in the world. It encourages me to make my own decisions without counsel and to face the challenges given me with grace and wisdom. As a woman, I know that I am a unique being and I add value to society.
This may cause men to feel intimidated, uncomfortable, and may cause them to think that I am conceited. For thousands of years, women have been in the shadow of men. However, women in recent decades have slowly come to the forefront. There are also many women in history who have stepped "out of their place" to make a change. Great examples: Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Angela Davis, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, and an infinite list of those to come.
A plea to all women:
We must unite in order to erase our portrayal by the media. We must first love one another as women, acknowledging our similarities and differences without envy to move forward in unity.
As women, we deserve to be given respect and reverence for our being because we add value to society. We should be esteemed for the powerful gifts that we bring to this world. Along with men acknowledging out worth, women should also love one another without malice.