I believe that every person is unique and have their own completions. The system of pinpointing personalities and putting people in boxes is outdated, and yet I observe, and face, these kind of stereotypes every day.
I often hear people telling me; “I didn’t think you were like that”, “You just don’t seem like the type” etc. You see my point. Comments that indicate I’ve acted in a way that don’t fit the box they’ve put me into. My most recent encounter of this sort was on my way to Pilates class. I met a ‘friend’, but couldn’t stop as I was late. “Pilates? I really didn’t think you were the kind of person to do Pilates”.
Somehow the comment stuck with me. What about me makes me seem like a certain kind of person? Why am I seen as a person that’s not likely to work out? Or to have certain opinions? In general, what is the stereotype about me?
I know I am not the only one that feel pinpointed and framed by narrow-minded stereotypes. It is a fact that most people, especially girls, are boxed in certain ways, as to narrow their existence into merely an image set by the male gaze?
My friend works in a grocery store. One day a costumer asked her for help to find the right light bulb, and she walked over with the lady to have a look. After going through all the light bulbs they had, it was clear that they didn’t run the specific type the lady was looking for. My friends politely explained this and apologised. “Don’t you have a man who can help me with this instead?” the lady pursue to ask, as if being a girl makes you less competent in doing your job. “I can still read a box label, even if I don’t have a penis”. This is another stereotype that contributes, not only to the degrading of the female sex, but also to the still-existing pay-gap. (Women are payed 9.4% less than their male co-workers in general.)
Another girl I know was folding cardboard boxes at work when an older male told her she was “such a good girl”. “It was uncomfortable,” she explains. There is this use language that seemingly don’t want women to be visible, and if they are, there is a certain vocabulary applied to make them less valuable. This is also reflected in the typical female gender identity as women often linguistic forms that reflect and reinforce a subordinate role.
I am in no way pinpointing this as merely a female issue, yet we cannot overlook the fact that this do affect women more than men. In the media both men and women are stereotypically portrayed, yet it is primarily women that are displayed in passive or submissive roles. What kind of message does this send to the public?
I just wish for women to be allowed their own identity, without the patriarchal frames, without fitting into a certain mould for social acceptance. I hope that stereotypes can, some day, be put aside so we can let people be their self without the boundaries of a certain image.