"He's just a boy. He's going to hit someone if they start something."
"She's just a girl. She's a little emotional sometimes."
There are countless variations, but the message is the same: Boys are strong, confident, and aggressive; girls are gentle, sweet, and emotional. When little boys fall, we tell them they are fine and to dust themselves off. When little girls scrape their knees, we hug them and wipe their tears away. We, as a society, send a clear message about what we expect from each gender and we do this often without realizing it.
Is this a big deal, you may be asking? I know branching out and expanding our minds when it comes to gender stereotyping can be threatening to those who fear change. It can be threatening when an individual may benefit from the stereotype and/or when he or she genuinely enjoys their role. What I worry about is the shame boys and girls feel when they don't fit in. I worry about the box they feel stuck in and the environment that's stifling their development.
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I stumbled upon a video discussing the "wussification" of men. In this video, the author expresses genuine horror at the thought of men or women deviating from their traditional gender roles.
One of the news anchors asks: "How do we teach our children to be who they are? How do we teach our boys to be boys and our girls to be girls without fitting them into these stereotypes?"
The question is its own answer, don't you think?
I may have already lost you. You may be angry at my opinion and you have every right to be, just as I have every right to be angry at the idea that feminism (seeing women as EQUAL, not better) is destroying our world and our men.
Pantene's #ShineStrong compaign (right) demonstrates this perfectly. Women often feel compelled to apologize for their thoughts and opinions. They can't be too forward or aggressive, lest they be considered the "b-word." I know I am guilty of saying "I'm sorry" to lessen the power and authority of my words.
I know this post already has a lot of videos, but I had to share this interview from The Colbert Report as well. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman wrote a book about self-assurance, specifically what causes women to lack the confidence they need to be as successful as they can be. I took their confidence quiz and found out that I have "high confidence." Funnily enough, I was nervous that I'd be labeled otherwise. What's great about the quiz is that the authors provide suggestions for how I can keep my level of confidence and how to help others boost their confidence as well.
Use the #ConfidenceCode hashtag to share your own experiences and even nominate a confident woman in your life. Just visit www.theconfidencecode.com for more information.