Picture the scene, if you will: a nuclear family such as you rarely see these days. (I won't get into the morality or otherwise of that, because for the moment it's not what I want to talk about and because I think that the near obsession with the nuclear family as the only good type of family structure is a load of damaging bollocks.) They're probably perfectly nice middle-class cis people - by nice, of course, I mean boring, tedious and vaguely homophobic, ableist, transphobic, xenophobic and racist. They're a married couple with two children, a boy and a girl. The man is a logically-minded strong, silent type; in his youth, stereotyped women used to swoon over him for his physical prowess and his readiness to go out and do tasks. He personally doesn't like women doing what he calls "a man's job" - actually going out and being a breadwinner - and he's always chivalrous towards women, though he has problems communicating and showing emotion.
Meanwhile, the woman of the family is really rather scatterbrained; she stays at home to look after the children, a job she does very well indeed - and she's a great cook too! When the man of the family comes home she respects what hard work he's done and makes him an evening meal; even if she's worn out she still tries to make herself look pretty for him, though she's no longer young and not even the wonders of anti-ageing creams can stop those wrinkles from showing. She's a caring, nurturing person - but she is rather too hysterical at times, not at all suited for the man's logical work...
...Meanwhile, their children are growing up to fit perfectly into society's stupid little boxes. The girl wears pretty pink princess dresses and has her hair in long plaits; she loves to play with dolls, too. As she grows older she'll shun academic achievement in favour of looking good for boys. She'll be afraid of maths and science because look, research says that girls can't do either and of course, grossly misreported and very flawed research is always right, and she'll be emotional too.
The boy loves playing with his cars and shuns anything "girly" (whatever that means); when he grows up he'll learn first that girls are weird, later that they're sex objects. He'll learn to shun emotion in favour of logic - or failing that, societal expectations.
Some people will be throwing up at the sheer number of gender stereotypes. Some will be applauding me for having written that tripe. Some will be complaining about the quality of the writing (give me a break, I'm not a writer...shit, that means I need to hurry up and quit blogging - after all, it is a form of writing).
I'd just like to say this: I wrote that utter garbage to see how many stereotypes I could cram into the nuclear family, because I'm sick and fucking tired of them all. In real life, the man would be fucked up from years of not being able to properly show his emotions and go into his true interests - nursing and music. The woman's scatterbrained because she never did have that much common sense in the first place - her mind is always on her student years, when she was studying pure mathematics; she still thinks about it today. She regrets ever having given up studying because her husband talked her out of it, and after the birth of her first child she didn't have time to go back...She's still bitter about it, but she knows it's a sore point, and she's so hysterical because of the stress of being stuck at home looking after two young children and still having to look appealing. As for the children? Actually, the girl wants to learn about what those funny things called atoms are and to study them when she's older, and the boy's a mean dancer.
Okay, so that was more garbage and basically showed why I'm not a writer (calling my prose wank is insulting to wank and I couldn't write a realistic, engaging character if my life depended on it), but you get the point.
Those stereotypes are sexist - I'll just say that now. They're sexist and serve the interests of the patriarchy. Behind them is the old idea that men are rational and women are emotional, and logic is better than emotion so men are better than women (or was it the other way around; is logic better than emotion because men are better than women?) and therefore, women should never be taken seriously on anything. It's just balanced out by women being made nurturing goddesses, but it's still the same old shit: men should go out and be all strong and violent, women should be pregnant and barefoot. In the media, it's backed up with grossly misinterpreted research about women being inherently worse or better at something than men, but if you look at actual research in, say, maths, there is no difference in the brains of children under age seven. The differences come because of society perpetuating attitudes that women can't do maths and men can. That is what it shows, and to me research is better than all the stereotypes and anecdata you can eat.
"But those stereotypes are true!" someone might cry. Well, no...even if I were to ignore all the research to the contrary, even if no-one had done any research, there'd still be quite a lot of anecdotal evidence to smash those stereotypes to smithereens.
Think hard for a minute. You probably know at least one ridiculously logical woman or one man very much in touch with his own emotions. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe you know relationships where the gender stereotypes are inverted or nonexistent. I'm pretty sure that's the same in all communities. Now, maybe if there were just a couple of isolated cases, you could claim them as anomalies (though that's a very harsh word to use for a person) - but there's a significant number of people who pretty much shit on gender stereotypes, and more power to them! Suddenly, those people don't look so anomalous any more...Suddenly, our gender stereotyping bullshit looks anomalous too, anomalous and harmful. How many people stop themselves from doing things they enjoy and are good at because it's not befitting to whatever gender they might be? How many people break themselves trying to fit gender stereotypes and roles? How many die, disappear, are marginalised, are discriminated against because pink girl, blue boy, and nothing in between are a sham that privileged people enforce?
I'm privileged, I know that. But I'm sick and tired of having this blood and oppression on my hands, and if I can't wash it off then I can at least do my meagre part to smash gender stereotypes and advance the cause of all.