As Shirley Chisholm says, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females and males begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.” or “Its a boy”. From the time the parents find out what sex the baby is, the unborn child is already being socialized to fit into gender roles. From the time the parents go out and buy either pink or blue clothes, the child will most likely get the sense growing up, that there is only one way to be. Either male or female. Feminine or masculine. There are 2 choices. If you are a girl, biologically, you are generally expected to like pink, play with dolls, have long hair, be attracted to men, and be sensitive, or “weak”. It it as if our voices do not count as anything, because in our society today, it seems that to many, all women are good for is “being beautiful”. From the time a girl is young, and hears from her family and people around her, “you are so cute, you look so pretty” ect, she internalizes the belief, maybe even unconciously, that thats what girls are good for. Thats what they are supposed to do. Why dont we hear young girls being told, “you are so strong, you are so smart” more often? Why is it that those kind of comments and compliments seem to go to the young boys? From that early age, we are taught our “gender roles”, even though most of us never even realized it. The messages are everywhere. If you are a boy, biologically, you are generally expected to be tough, unemotional, and “manly”. Boys and men get the message that they are supposed to be the “protector”, the strong one, the one in charge in the relationship. And most of all, they are taught that the “normal” thing to do, is to be attracted to women. To degrade them. To do anything just to get sex. And those beliefs, right there, begin rape culture, societal male privilege, and the overall sense that it is “okay” to treat women like shit. Not to say that all men are like this, because that is definetley not true, but that is the overarching message seen in our society today. If you are a girl, you are told “Act like a lady”, and if you are a boy you are told “Be a man”. The reality of it is, these gender roles are unrealistic and socially constructed. We are all just people. Some girls like football. Some boys like Barbies. Some girls were born in a “boy’s” body, and vice versa. We are all different. Some people are emotional, others are not. And why does this now have to be determined by “gender?”. We should all just be ourselves, regardless of these ridiculous gender “norms”. We are made to feel weird , isolated, and “different” when we don’t fit into these gender roles. But none of us are wrong. Who is wrong? Society. Everywhere you go, you will see the “men” and “womens” sections in the clothing stores, the seperated bathrooms, ect. We are forced to squeeze ourselves into a small box of either male or female, and do what we are expected to do. Challenge it. Dress the way YOU want. Do what YOU want. And since we see “two genders” everywhere, so many people seem to be unaware that there are many gender identities that go beyond male and female. Some people identify as transgender, gender questioning, gender queer, gender neautral, genderless, gender non-conforming, and more. These are ALL valid identities. Human identity is a wide spectrum and we are expected to stick with one way of living forever, with one identity. But gender is not your body, your appearance, or your genetalia. It is your mind. The way you view yourself in the world. So be aware, there are many different identities, and you never know how someone feels on the inside! Don’t assume anyones gender! Self identity can be fluid, and it can change constantly, day to day. And all of that is totally okay! When we don’t question gender “norms” and stereotypes, we are continuing the pattern. It is time to step up and do something. The best thing we can do, is be ourselves! And not feel stuck and restricted within these unattainable gender roles. A woman is much more than her body, and a man is much more than “being tough”. We are all people, we ALL deserve respect weather we identify as female, male, transgender, gender neutral, gender queer, gender questioning, genderless, or gender non-conforming. Just be you!!