The goal for gender roles

Are femininity and masculinity set in stone? Pinterest photo.

Are femininity and masculinity set in stone? Pinterest photo.

By Ally Grimaldi, Copy Editor

Recently, I came across a photo of a Barbie doll dressed in a hot pink, sparkly mini dress, wrapped in a full-body, pink fur jacket. A statement beside her read, “I don’t need feminism because even though I’ve been a doctor, a firefighter, an astronaut, and the U.S. President, feminists say I’m a bad role model for girls because of my figure.” Logically, Barbie could never have said these words because of one small problem—she’s a doll. However, something about this statement really struck me. It birthed questions in my mind, like “What is true feminism?” and “What does it mean to be a woman?” Of course, there’s a significant difference between identifying as a woman and a doll being ridiculed for its influence on children. Yet similarly, societal standards for beauty, basis of merit, gender, and occupation seem to overlap immensely and affect our culture and daily lives. Which begs the question, is there a right way to be a woman or a feminist?

A statement by UFC fighter and champion Ronda Rousey recently took the media by storm. It seemed to have resonated with many women and feminists because of its independent and self-sufficient-commending nature. The quote is as follows, “I have this one term for the kind of woman that my mother raised me not to be, and I call it a ‘Do Nothing B—-,’ or I call it a ‘DNB’ a lot of the time. It’s the kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by somebody else. That’s why I think it’s hilarious if people say my body looks masculine. I think it’s [feminine], because there isn’t a muscle in my body that isn’t for a purpose, because I’m not a [DNB].”

This quote reinforced a vital and unfortunate truth: No matter what domain they precede in, we are still calibrating a person’s merit based on their beauty, even Barbie. Whether that measure of worth is positive or negative is frivolous; a woman’s appearance has nothing to do with her merit. Our culture in general has a hard time supporting women unless they mold to societal standards for beauty, and even then their success is questioned. Is that person auspicious because of her beauty, or is she beautiful because she has to be to achieve success? It all gets a little muddled from there.

Whether you are a man or a woman, you shouldn’t solely rely or depend on someone else to provide for you. We should take charge of our lives and be strong and confident individuals. And we most assuredly should not allow someone else to decide our worth for us. Even so, what gives us a right to judge women who make different choices than ours? If modern feminism is defined as treating every person equally, then discriminating against women who want to lead a “trophy-wife” lifestyle is no one’s prerogative. Putting someone’s choices down to reaffirm your own life choices is unacceptable. There isn’t one right or wrong way to be a woman; there are just many ways.

Contrarily, it’s not hard to understand the place where Rousey’s quote came from. Objectifying a person’s body positively or negatively is simply intolerable. It isn’t Rousey’s job in any way to be what society deems feminine or beautiful—her job is to be a fighter in the UFC. Ideally, she should only be judged in those terms.

According to Planned Parenthood, what it means to be a man or woman is not solely identifiable by sex organs, but also by how we choose to identify ourselves. “Our gender includes a complex mix of beliefs, behaviors, and characteristics,” stated the website. “Our cultures teach women and men to be the opposite of each other in many ways. The truth is that we are more alike than different.” Gender is a social construct. Society pressures us with gender-based expectations for how we choose to dress, behave, look, and position ourselves in our communities. It’s what we’re taught. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, children have already learned the “appropriate” toys to choose for their gender by the age of three. It’s horrifying to think gender stereotypes are so embedded into our minds and cultures that even toddlers are being influenced by them.

We need to reject the idea that femininity is necessary for success. We need to reevaluate the ways in which we perceive what’s masculine and what’s feminine. We shouldn’t call anyone a “DNB” because it segregates us in a time when we should be coming together as equals in honor of modern feminism. We need to stand on our own feet and depend on ourselves. We should be confident in our individuality and embrace others who are too. Most importantly, we need to realize what other people do with their lives and bodies is certainly none of your business.