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Student Question

Do gender stereotypes seem to be more offensive or incorrectly portrayed for females or males? Or is it equal?

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I believe that gender stereotyping is harmful and offensive to females, males, and to those who consider themselves gender neutral. Everyone suffers when they are not allowed to freely express themselves because of societal constraints. However, I submit that women and gender neutral folks probably experience more discrimination than men. Gender stereotyping is harmful for many reasons, but mainly because it allows that what is okay for one gender is not okay for another. For example, women and girls are allowed to cry and be vulnerable with friends, while men may be mocked for being openly emotional. Another example is that boys are often encouraged to be strong, resilient, and self-sufficient, while girls are often taught to be modest and demure. This divide can become deeper during puberty, when sexuality comes into play; boys are sometimes viewed as predators and girls as potential targets. This stereotyping is damaging to both men and women, because it creates confusion and misunderstanding on both sides, as well as the potential for real physical harm for women. Men oftentimes have to deal with the stigma of being seen as a threat to women, which can discourage them from forming truly healthy relationships with women. However, the public perception of men as the "breadwinner" (an old-fashioned and outdated notion to be sure) is also harmful to women; the fact that women are still paid 20% less than men for doing the exact same job is just one way in which women suffer disproportionally when gender stereotypes are in play. People who identify as non-gender specific suffer as well, as they are often discriminated against in the healthcare marketplace, in the workplace, and in family settings.

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