Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sincerely Defying Gender Roles

In my conversations with self-proclaimed feminists, many of them have made it clear that one of their goals is to eliminate gender roles and gender stereotypes (henceforth noted as "GR/S"). They also occasionally claim that eliminating some GR/S (i.e. negative female ones) will eliminate ALL GR/S. A famous example of this was Emma Watson's "He for She" speech at the United Nations, in which she said,

"We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled."

Interestingly, this presents a viable alternative strategy: if you think that speaking out against one subset of GR/S will eliminate ALL GR/S, then does it really matter which ones you speak out against? Couldn't you just as easily attack positive female GR/S and negative male GR/S and still accomplish your goal? Why do feminists only attack negative female GR/S if they believe that all GR/S are joined at the hip? This gives off the impression that they only want the good stuff for women, and that their movement is self-serving.

Heck, if you really want people to know that your fight against all GR/S is sincere, then you should attack the positive stereotypes about women (women are better parents, women are better communicators, women are tidier) and the negative stereotypes about men (men are stupid, men are malicious, men are unemotional, men are sloppy). Not only would that accomplish your goal of eliminating GR/S, but it would also prove your sincerity beyond a reasonable doubt. And yet, most feminists seem to only attack negative female gender roles and positive male gender roles... which makes me wonder: are they really sincere in their fight against gender roles, or do they just want women to be rid of the bad ones while keeping the good ones?

Lisa Simpson: sincerely defying gender roles.

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