Sunday, September 11, 2016

Breaking the Mold of Gender Stereotypes

A natural gender distinction exists in society. Children are taught from a young age that their clothes are labelled. Blue is for boys. Pink is for girls. The entertainment industry has taken this distinction to new extremes.

The totality of the popular Nintendo game ‘Super Mario Bros.’ depicts brave Mario on his dangerous quest to find and rescue Princess Peach, the misfortunate beauty who is being held hostage in evil Bowser’s castle. 

In the James Bond franchise, the secret agent with rippling pectoral muscles is famous for his one-night stands and chauvinistic attitude towards the women around him. A common thread weaves these, and most other popular phenomenon’s together- the woman is always the inferior character, the ‘damsel in distress’. 

While some progression has been made in the entertainment industry with heroines like Katniss Everdeen and Hermoine Granger, it is clear that we must see stronger growth before our children can experience a non-gender discriminatory society.

The upcoming US presidential election magnifies the above and depicts this discrimination on the real-life world stage. While I can appreciate that having a women candidate is remarkable, I find it upsetting that this gender classification has been the vocal point of the campaign.

In my home country of Ireland, woman have featured heavily in politics for many years. Two of the previous three presidents of Ireland have been women. While the Chief Justice of Ireland, Susan Denham, is the first female to hold this position, women are commonly seen in other judicial roles such as Supreme Court Justices (three in total) and High Court Justices (ten in total). 

The political leaders of any nation should be a fair depiction of all that nation represents. They should view their country as a cohesive whole, and give respect to their distinctive traditions, language and political beliefs.

Before a nation identifies under any of these categories, we can describe its citizens in the most basic of terms: ALL inhabitants of that particular state. Fundamental to this explanation is the equal composition of men and women. 

Of the 2010 USA Census population, 157.0 million were female (50.8 percent) while 151.8 million were male (49.2 percent). A female-led government should therefore not be painted as such a shock factor for this upcoming election. 

Perhaps I take for granted how lucky I am to have been raised in a country where gender-balanced leadership is not an elusive concept. I hope the citizens of America realise their duty to move towards change and to work towards discontinuing the permeation of the above pop-culture gender stereotypes in the real world.
If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be a lot freer  Emma Watson

3 comments:

Kyle Kate Dudley said...

Louise,

I love the idea of defining ourselves by who we are. I agree with you that its foolish to focus solely on the fact that there are fewer women in politics, and perhaps the *shock* value of the first female president of the US is the wrong angle. However, I think focusing on who we are must involve some focus on who we're not. The fact is, that in the US congress, women occupy only 19.4% of 535 seats and in the state houses/assemblies, only 25.3% of 5411 seats. (http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/current-numbers) Perhaps we're just not trained well in how to get up to these political heights.

One way to combat this is programs like The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts' "Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact," which "trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from the citizen perspective." http://www.womensfund.net/advocacy/about.htm

Maybe we can embrace who we are AND who we're not. :)

Julie Maguire said...

Really interesting post Lulu.

I appreciate the way in which you comment so honestly on the role women are expected to play in society and the way in which it is instilled in us at such a young age. I enjoyed how you addressed the discriminatory issues we experience as women as we progress through life, from birth to childhood to adulthood and the different ways in which we engage with it at the different stages.

I was intrigued by your notes on the population of women as a percentage relative to the population of men in the U.S. and was wondering if you are suggesting that the government should reflect these statistics in relation to the number of women in office?Or are you of the impression that these statistics are being fairly represented in the government?

Louise Trainor said...

While I appreciate that an exact 50/50 ratio of men to women in government is unrealistic for any nation, I feel that a more accurate representation of women as equal contributors to societal progression is needed.

I look forward to a society in which the question of whether women are or are not hindered in their ability to advance in politics is obsolete. I understand that a concept as such will be a continued discussion in the future. However, if we can come as far as we already have in relation to women's rights, who is to say that we can not go even further and make female-lead governments more mainstream and conventional?