“You can’t wear that dress, what will people think of you!” This rarely happens to a boy.
“You can’t text that, you’ll sound so gay” Girls can never sound gay.
“You can’t send that message, you sound like you’re flirting with him” But can a boy flirt?
These are the double standards of today’s society. The unfair comments and the unfortunate reality both make up the disappointments of living in the world that exists today. It’s not just revolving around one gender; it’s about all genders. It’s about how you need to conform to one set of rules that has been pre-decided by society because these are the acceptable ways of life. But the world’s changing, so shouldn’t society move on?
As a young child, my older brother and I used to fight a lot – both verbally and physically. It didn’t bother me in any way that I was a girl. It was obvious that I was not as physically capable as my brother, but I knew that indirectly my brother was just helping me to learn to fend for myself. However, during one of these physical fights, his friend was present at home and he was visibly shocked. He asked my brother how he could hit a girl. My brother just shrugged and walked away. And for that second, I was deeply offended because I was able to throw a punch or two. So let’s reverse the roles here: If it were I who had hit my brother, I can safely assume that his friend wouldn’t have said anything. The societal norm that boys can’t hit girls may have its origins in the fact that girls tend to be physically less strong than boys – but how is it fair to say that girls can hit guys? If guys can’t hit girls, then should the norm also be that girls cannot hit boys without being chastised? Why do we hold this double standard in society?
The term domestic abuse is commonly assumed to be something that a man does to his partner. The woman calls the police and then complains that her husband is hitting her. She shows the police her scars, and they arrest her husband. And that’s believable because most domestic violence cases that are reported in the media implicate men. However, on June 25th 2014, a study on Intimate Partner Violence presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow showed that women were more likely to be “intimate terrorists” or physically more aggressive compared to men. Isn’t it about time for society to accept that domestic abuse and gender have no relation with each other?
It is not just men that suffer from societal stereotypes, women are also affected.
An issue that remains unresolved is the disparity in women’s salaries which languish at levels much lower than that of men. It doesn’t seem fair in the slightest way because in an essay by Cornell economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, they argued factually that women have higher average levels of schooling than men, and are also the gender more likely to have advanced degrees. Their research also showed that for every dollar men earn by work every hour, women earn 74 cents. The good news is that between 1980 and 1990 this gap narrowed – in 1980, women were far worse off, earning just 62% of what men were earning. The bad news is that the gap hasn’t closed since 1990. Perhaps, in the 1980s, this gap was justified because men had seven years of full-time experience in the labor market over women. The difference today, however, has shrunk to 1.4 years more — a very good development.
Still, even today, women earn less than men! Maybe it is because the employers believe women might quit suddenly due to their maternal instincts or maybe they just feel women are not as productive as men. Irrespective of the reason, unless there is sufficient evidence of any of those unmentioned factors, this situation is gender discrimination at work. And it doesn’t seem fair. Why is it assumed that women aren’t as efficient as men?
To conclude, double standards in society have existed for centuries and the trend doesn’t seem likely to go away. Berating guys for hitting girls or blaming men for domestic abuse comes naturally to us. It is as if it is part of our psyche to believe that men are more efficient at work than females. But I believe that it’s time to change that. Even though the chance that these double standards are going to disappear soon seems null, we could at least make a small effort to turn the tide. Maybe students of SAS can conscientiously do their part?