Reinforcing negative gender roles
During Women’s History Month, there always seems to be a resurgence of phrases circulating that hold the theme “act like a man.” These phrases express that woman should work to be more aggressive and rude rather than their usual sweet selves. These type of quotes are a disservice to both man and women.
This kind of quote reinforces typical stereotypes facing males and females. That women are not as smart and as strong as men, that we are emotional homebodies. For men, these quotes install the idea that they always have to be in charge and always need to maintain strict control of their emotions.
One of the popular quotes circulating the web is “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” I have no idea when this quote started popping up. However, when I first read it, it instantly made me angry. One of those moments when blood rushes to your eyes and your heart starts beating to such dizzying speeds that if you don’t calm down, you are likely to pass out. It took me a while to dissect every single reason this particular phrase irritated me.
I’m not even going to touch on the little girl remark because the heart attack would be imminent. As to the rest, act how you want to act and think for yourself. If someone hates you for it, then they are not worth your time. These type of negative comparisons reinforce the idea that you have to adhere to certain gender roles and ultimately defeats the point such phrases are trying to inspire; to encourage women to feel free to be themselves no matter the judgment we face.
Each decade, women seem to do more and more to become more “manly”. Back in the day, the focus was on obtaining the status man held not conforming or adhering to specific gender roles. For the generations of women, this meant different things. In the 1920’s, women worked for the right to vote. In WWII, women were sent to work in factories. Shortly after this time, women allowed to be enlisted personnel in the military and never have we, in any of these situations, allowed ourselves to be seen as anything other than women.
Women changed how the world looks at work relations, family relations, reproductive rights, and human rights. Women have brought about stability in a world that seems to be forever changing. We should celebrate our past and present achievements and not get caught up in false equivalencies that are counterintuitive to our goals.