by Aastha Katyal
As I read about the Gurgaon police commissioner flagging off the ‘Only for Women’ auto-rickshaw service at the MG road metro station, which would ferry only women around Gurgaon, two words caught my eye that amazed me at the level of stereotypical thought that exists among society at large, the words being “pink autos”.
The moment we see “pink” our brain registers the meaning to be associated with girls. While quick association is not a complaint but at times the stereotypes overwhelm our ability to accept things otherwise, or to accept change. A girl wanting a toy train set is not acceptable while a boy wanting to learn needle work or dance is ridiculed.
It’s not only about toys or hobbies, the kind of gender stereotyping we are constantly exposed to often leads to subconscious self doubt. Concepts like women cannot drive as well as men are so deeply ingrained by society that when I set out to drive on the roads I get slightly conscious and constantly feel this urge to prove the men folk wrong.
We are born into a world where gender is constantly emphasized by the difference in colour preferences (pink vs. blue), entertainment preferences (sports vs. playing with dolls), appearance, dressing styles et al. In such a world when one gender’s stereotypical behavior is switched with another gender’s, it wreaks havoc in the minds of orthodox thinkers. While females are expected to be coy and soft spoken, males are expected to be hard skinned, ready to brave battles of all sorts. It is okay for a woman to be dependant – financially or emotionally – but a man dependant on a woman is admonished by society.
These stereotypical images are pumped into one’s mind ever since birth, which are encouraged even more by the media through its various channels. Expectant parents while discussing colours for their soon-to-be born kid would automatically choose to paint the room pink if a girl, and blue if a boy. Another example of this is the following advertisement I came across on this website: http://thethinpinkline.com/tag/stereotypes/
This advertisement is a perfect example of the media through its messages encouraging stereotypes.
This website formed for the initiative of women fighting for gender peace is another example: http://www.codepink4peace.org/
We don’t only need to de-gender colour but de-gender activities, emotions and behavior. It should be perfectly fine for a man to cry if he’s feeling upset and for a woman to join the armed forces if she feels she is capable. Stereotypical adjectives to genders must be toned down so there is sufficient breathing space for men and women to grow and explore themselves.