Deconstructing Stereotypes

Written by Bhavna Saxena

A few days back, I was going to a party with my cousin and her family. My uncle was driving Santro and then he suddenly applied the break to prevent an accident. The next thing he spoke was “the driver must be a girl”. I was not shocked because we have heard much more stereotypical comment than this. But yes, I was surprised that these ‘so-called’ open minded people perfectly suited the category of narrow-minded ones.
From the time we wake up till the time we sleep, these gender stereotypes follow us everywhere we go. Do you remember being called out in the kitchen to cook for the whole family whereas your brother was simply wasting his time playing video games? And suddenly a thought must have crossed your mind as to why he is not said anything? Or why do we girls have to cook food? Or why are women related to shopping and gossiping? Men also go for shopping. If you ever had a male friend you must be aware that they gossip more than us.
Let me introduce you to the conventional mindset of ‘Indian Society’, where, when a boy is born a subtle stereotyping begins. An unconscious motive of having the family race continue through him brings joy. If he cries, he is been told ‘not to cry like a girl’! He learns to suppress his emotions, because whenever he wants to cry his heart out, a voice echoes in his brain telling him to ‘be a man’. From the childhood, he is being told not to wear pink as it is ‘for girls’. He is surrounded with toy cars and as he grows up, he is the one who is taught to drive a car even if he is not legally permitted to do so. Boys are often discouraged to cook or to serve. Moreover, the career paths are pre-defined. As many of you must have seen in 3 Idiots, the boys are ‘supposed’ to be good at maths and technical lines. But, if a guy wants to be a teacher or counsellor, he is discouraged to follow that because of a pre-notion that girls are good at art and literature.
On the other hand, the equation changes the minute a girl is born. Her room is decorated with the feminine colour pink and stuff toys etc. ‘Good manners’ like talking softly, laughing (NOT LOUDLY), sitting properly, following ‘orders’, not fighting or arguing like boys, are being taught to her. She will be discouraged to choose a career of her choice, and forced to take up much more ‘suitable’ jobs such as teacher, as she needs to balance her personal and professional life. Have you ever seen a daily soap in which a girl enters a room full of known as well as unknown people with a tray in her hand, and the first question that is being raised is..”Beta, do you know how to cook?” If she knows how to cook well and talk shyly, her future is decided. So rewind a bit from those ‘good manners’ to her ‘culinary skills’. It was all because of a want of a decent groom and family. Indigestible, isn’t it? Now the question is WHY?  Again it comes back to the basic gender stereotype. A woman should take care of the family, whereas a man should go out and earn money.


About the author

Bhavna Saxena

Bhavna Saxena is an English Literature student at Delhi University. She is an adventurous girl and is a firm believer of YOLO (You Only Live Once). She hasn’t grown up reading fiction but now her heart and soul lies there. She is optimistic about everything in her life. She loves to travel to different places and is crazy about photography and singing. Writing for her is a medium to share her past experiences, the memories and emotions attached.

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