Opinion

Express Yourself

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Photo from Daily Mail

By: Alexis Smith and Nathan Petithomme

In the wake of the shock and devastation we all felt after the results of Election Day, it is important to remember that the world is still becoming more and more progressive. With former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bid for presidency, the nation was swept up in a wave of pride, and feminism gained a place in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Her campaign and successful defeat of Senator Bernie Sanders in the primaries taught Americans that politics is not just for men. She smashed through the perceptions of gender roles, empowering many to question the confines that gender has placed on people. The difference between the conservatism of older generations and the liberalism of younger generations shined brightly in the general election as studies showed that if only millennials had voted Clinton’s victory would have been decisive.
In preparation for Gender Justice Day, we interviewed multiple Lindblom teachers about gender roles and the impact of gender on their lives. These interviews helped us see the different perspectives of gender roles from their upbringing to their current lifestyle.

It is thought by some that each subsequent generation is becoming more liberal, attributed to the different experiences in life each generation has. For example. when asked about his upbringing, Mr. Michael Bucholtz, PE teacher, said, “I was raised in a traditional household where my mother did most of the house work, and my dad was the…breadwinner.” However, he later stated that the gender roles present in his upbringing do not reflect on his life with his wife, where they both share equal responsibilities and approach tasks with the mindset of things needing to be done to keep up their house and not by defining them as male or female tasks.

Overall, people are becoming more open-minded, and gender roles no longer have a dominant position is people’s lives. The idea of not adhering to society’s expectations of what constitutes as being masculine or feminine is gradually becoming more accepted.

Many youth today in society, though, still feel pressured to act in a way that matches societal gender norms. When asked about the words generally connected to being a male, Mr. Tim Patula, PE teacher, listed words like “tough,” “extreme,” and “manly.” The reality of today is that males often feel pressured to act in ways that embody these words, and if they don’t they often face ridicule and are labeled derogatory terms implying their femininity. Similarly, females are expected to act in a feminine manner, ladylike, mild mannered, girly, polite, subtle, and motherly. Ms. Jill Simon, English teacher, spoke about how these expectations become apparent in the classroom where “there is an expectation for female teachers to act maternal with their students while there is no  expectation that male teachers act paternal. When [female teachers] do not act this way, students sometimes label [them] as ‘mean’ or ‘unfair.’” Pre-existing gender roles have led to people adhering to what they were taught is acceptable for their gender, but it is imperative that we understand that it is acceptable to fluctuate in your gender expression and that you’re not confined to a gender binary.

Every day, people are defying gender roles. Ms. Molly Myers, social studies teacher, shops in both women and men’s departments for clothing. Mr. Corey Morrison, math teacher, owns a pink phone case. Mr. Isaiah Peachey’s female partner handles car mechanics while he cleans. Ms. Melissa Beemsterboer, science teacher, loves and studies Physics, regardless of it being a male dominated field.  Mr. Zachary Linderman’s wife is the “breadwinner” in their relationship, and he would elect to be the stay at home father if they had to choose. Society is changing, and people do not have to confine themselves to traditional gender expression.

To everyone that may be struggling with not conforming to societal gender roles, Ms. Beemsterboer had a message: “You have to have the confidence, even though it’s sometimes hard for you depending on what your gender role is, to push yourself be proud of yourself and do the things you want to do.”

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Categories: Opinion

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