Last week, while sitting at a café waiting for a friend, I overheard (eavesdropped rather, since I’d finished with BuzzFeed) snippets from another table’s conversation. Since I don’t know the participants’ names I’m assigning numbers:
Girl #1: ‘That movie was so sad! I’m still tearing up! I can’t believe you didn’t shed a tear!
Girl #2: I can’t really cry at movie and it was just a movie ladies!
Girl #3: *laughs* you’re such a guy!
Girl #2: *laughs* Thanks! I don’t suppose you’ve been talking to my aunt? She was “warning” me about how bossy girls don’t find boys.
Girl #1: That’s not entirely true! If Frenemy #1 can find a boy, anyone can!
Girl #3: we all know who wears the pants in that relationship!
Girl #2: I hear that he quit his job because he wants to pursue a career in modelling. Since it isn’t a steady pay check, Frenemy #1 is the bread winner of that house!
Girl #1: Maybe he should change his name to Mr. Frenemy #1!
Thankfully my friend arrived and we started our own ‘Mean Girls’ conversation (don’t deny it, we all do it!). Overhearing (eavesdropping) their conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder: Do we still live in a world where we condemn women bread winners? In a reality where social media celebrates the empowerment of women with #21stcenturywoman, are women really empowered to choose the way they want to live their lives? At the same time have we, as a society, unknowingly created a double standard that works against men?
For example, if a girl decides to quit her steady job to become an author it is considered a bold move, but if a man decides to do the same it is considered “unrealistic” or cowardly because he will not have a steady income. Many feminists will argue that this is not a double standard against men, but that debate is for another time. The question right now is whether a girl who possesses masculine traits such as being passionate, driven, or commanding is less of a girl, or whether a boy who possesses feminine traits such as being compassionate, nurturing, or gentle is considered less of a boy?
Today, a “real dude”, famously epitomised by Barney Stinson, is someone who comes up with phrases like “Bros before Hos”, who has a “chick” for every day of the week and whose aim in life is to be “so loaded” that he can nab a lifetime supply of protein shakes and trophy wives. In this reality, a boy is considered to be less of a boy if he wants to learn to dance, or if he wants to be a full-time artist or a full-time author. By this reasoning, we as a society should change our perception of Lord Nataraj, Ravi Varma, and William Shakespeare!
The phrase ‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen’ is slowly dying. Although feminism is credited with this notion’s slow demise, equal credit must be given to the Picassos, Lennons and Billy Elliots of the world! Before you get your pitchforks out, I am not crediting men for the progress of the feminist movement! In the last few decades, however, the feminist movement and progressive men have always been dependant on each other.
Behind every independent and strong-willed girl there is a father/father figure. The positive influence a male figure has in a girl’s life is the reason the phrase ‘it’s a man’s world’ is slowly but surely fading away. Every time a dad tells his daughter that it is okay to have opinions, he’s changing the world. Every time he’s encouraging his daughter to be more than a pretty face, he is feeding the feminist movement. Every time he pushes his daughter to strive for excellence and to dream big, he is creating a world where his daughter isn’t afraid to be herself. Every time a father or a brother tells their daughter/sister that it is okay to be bossy, commanding, determined or passionate, they are an irreversible step closer to shattering that glass ceiling that still exists in most spheres! If we are to stereotype men and women based on masculine and feminine traits our dads most likely will not be considered “manly” men!
We now live in a world where “co-parenting” exists with “double income households”. So to all those who were called ‘bossy’, ‘sensitive’, ’artsy’, or ‘headstrong’ in the past or who are still called all those things, be grateful that you are all those things! Society has unknowingly pivoted the connotation of those words! We now live in a world where ‘sick’ means awesome (my apologies to all those English professors out there!), and to be a ‘woman’ today is no longer what it was once considered to be.