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Gargee Singh Bhadoria


Guile Caskets of Life (an op-ed on gender roles and their impact)

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2 months ago
2 months ago
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Every second of the day, more than four children are born. Their parents rejoice and exclaim; the emptiness that they had in their life is suddenly filled, an emptiness the existence of which was unknown to them. But those are the only few moments of our lives that remain unadulterated. All the others are dictated by the society. Whether you believe you belong in it or not, society will not make any exceptions. It will cling onto your every move, from your blinking to your footsteps.

Since the day we are born, we are expected to behave in a certain way so as to fit in our niche in the society. People have long believed that it is only proper if everyone belongs to some kind of a block, that they can be put in and classified. Classification makes everything better. It is the sign of a civilised society, some might even say. Civilisation requires us to be organised, and who would not want to be civilised. To not be one, is to be a savage. Just like that, there is no grey area. Either you are, or you are not. This is the reason why we endure, and will probably continue to endure for a long time. The sense of belonging is too precious to give it up for individuality.

For a long time, we have served our society by accepting their wishes and have gladly been classified. How we achieved that classification, is a whole other matter. Some did just fit in and they were happy, but some pretended because they had to. Anomalies are not something that the society takes lightly. Nobody thought that maybe, they were not anomalies at all. Maybe rather than having just two classes that define people, maybe it should be a spectrum.

Science has proven that there are exceptions to everything, to every law and fact. This was proven in the case we discuss as well. There were people who did not fit the definition society had chosen for their gender. The society believes it to be a fact that if you are a female, you should be fragile, passive and submissive; and if a male, tough, aggressive and dominating. Those who do not fit this definition are declared to be anomalies. But the truth is, nobody actually fits these definitions; and the society continues to ignore that truth. The barrier that they had created to keep the dichotomous classes separated had been broken and there existed an overlap.

This overlap has been blatantly overlooked by the society, which has been the cause of suffering for many. The girls are supposed to stay inside homes and cook food, not roam on the streets and work to earn pay. The boys are supposed to be the breadwinners and should be pampered by the women for their hard work. Basically, the males are always promoted over females. They are better at working and earning, they are better at decision making; they are better, period. What they should not be good at is making food and taking care of the family, so this is the job that falls into the hands of the women. This is the only work that females should do, but then again it is not labelled as work. The real work is done by men, always and forever.

So, when people emerged who broke these “ideal” concepts of the society, they were pushed down. They were pushed to the depths of hell till they agreed that, yes they did belong to the dichotomy created by the society. That it was just pretence to escape the evil of the society, nobody cared.

The gender roles of society are simple and very narrow. Girls and boys should be exact polar opposites of each other. If they are not, they are bullied till they either erase their existence or their personality. Yes, there are people who lie exactly in the boundaries defined but there are those who do not. Their representation is erased by the society and the media. For example, in a movie if a woman knows a whole lot about cars it will be because she had seven older brothers who were crazy about cars, it can never be because she was interested. Same goes for boys, if a guy knows how to cook food it’s not because he wanted to learn but because he had a girl to impress or something similar to that.

Media and society together have been eliminating the representation for those who do not fit their gender roles. Barbies are meant for fragile little girls and GI Joes are for strong boys. God forbid that they cross these lines. How many times have we seen or heard a little boy being scolded or even beaten for wanting to play with a doll. Dolls are not meant for them, neither are tears. The advertisements make it clear what is meant for males, and what is for females.

So, when women storm the streets demanding the right to be masculine or men demanding to be feminine, it baffles us to such extent that we are not able to comprehend it. We have denied the people their right to be themselves. A man cannot show fear or emotion without being criticised for it to an unbelievable extent. A woman cannot be dominant and stoic without being called berating names.

This is the society that we live in, where people are not allowed to be themselves. Those who recognise themselves with a gender are still safe, but those who don’t are just a fly in the cup, they are to be crushed and thrown away. The time has come to break these niches created so long ago. Times are changing and we should change with them. The box that was created was too small, too narrow. Hence, it is only right that we break through the box and spread our wings in the open sky.

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