We absolutely love how Shuga wastes no time- episode 1 and the show is already addressing the gender stereotypes in society. We are introduced to Reggie, a gifted graffiti artist, who seems to have a strained relationship with his father. Reggie raises the issue of the gender roles that society imposes on us.
Let’s pause for a minute and look at what some of these terminologies mean.
What are gender roles?
Gender roles are characteristics, shaped by society and culture which set expectations for the way women and men, girls and boys, should dress, behave, and look to express being a woman or a man. These roles often come with gender stereotypes attached to them.
What are gender stereotypes?
Gender stereotypes are characteristics, differences and attributes imposed on a certain group based on their gender. Gender stereotypes create a widely accepted judgment or bias about certain characteristics or traits that apply to each gender. There are four basic kinds of gender stereotypes:
- Personality Traits: Women are supposed to be shy, passive and submissive. Men are expected to be tough, aggressive, dominant and self-confident.
- Domestic Behaviors: Women are supposed to cook and do housework and on the other hand: men are better at household repairs.
- Occupations: Women are supposed to have “clean” jobs such as teachers, nurses, secretaries and librarians. Men are supposed to have “dirty jobs” like mechanics, construction workers, plumbers and engineering.
- Physical Appearance: Generally speaking, women are expected to be short and slender, small and delicate while men are supposed to be tall with broad shoulders.
It is important for us to challenge these stereotypes because gender stereotyping has awful consequences and often leads to sexism or violence against subordinate groups. We hear Reggie’s father say “I will make a man out of him, even if it kills me”– is Reggie any less of a man because he wants to be an artist and not an engineer?
How Do You Challenge Gender Stereotypes?
- Point it out when you see/hear them and don’t stop there- challenge them too.
- Walk the Talk- you could be a role model to your friends and the people around you that your gender doesn’t determine who you have to be.
- Use inclusive language.
- Get more people as possible involved. As Gary Barker (International Director of Promundo) said people need to have their Matrix moment and realise “wait – [masculinity] isn’t real. It’s all illusory, it’s all performance.”
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