Gender expectations are defined as: “Socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” Basically those things that are expected from you by society as a girl/woman or boy/man. You should sit this way, you shouldn’t speak like this, that is not lady like… and so forth and so on. These are so entrenched in us that most of us have a knee jerk reaction to witnessing them being flouted, even if we’re not too thrilled about adhering to them in first place.
Navigating the eye-opening path of feminism can be as much about seeing the skewedness of a patriarchal society (with the many cubicles designed to house the identity of women) as it can be about noticing the entrenched prejudices that reside within your own psyche. You begin to notice those gender stereotypes which you yourself have unconsciously fallen victim to, how else will you start detanglin yourself from their shackles right? You begin to notice those subtle voices in your head that silently protest when you don’t conform
Unlearning and replacing these expectations is a part of embracing being a feminist. The catch then comes when you are accused of trying to be a man. How am I trying to be a man? By standing up for myself? By daring to break out of the mould society forces me into because I have boobs and a vagina? By daring to do that which I’ve been programmed to think is not for me? How?
On the flipside it isn’t all fairytales and unicorns on the feminist fence. There are those who think there is only one way to be a feminist. That “blueprint ” however tends to alienate so many women… Those who don’t have a problem being so called “sex symbols” who capitalise on their looks for whatever reason are said to be setting the movement back, but are they really? Isn’t the ownership of self part of being free? There are those feminists who unashamedly bash other women who are as comfortable with the “home maker” role as they are with the feminist role . Does that really make them less of a feminist? Those of our brethren who prefer being “kept women” get more flak from women (especially those who identify as feminist) than anybody else. Are all these women really setting the movement back?
Maybe I’m a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to the movement in general, but I honestly believe that being a feminist means advocating for the freedom of every woman to just be. That to me means, even if I may not personally agree or want to live the life she has chosen but I should be the first to embrace the “live and let live” motto. That to me is the essence of being feminist granted I may still have a lot to learn but I think this where I begin.
I mean what good does it do any of us to to unbox ourselves from the boxes partriachy has put us in… only to box ourselves into the “ideal feminist” boxes kinda defeats the purpose don’t you think?