Women don’t poop: as funny as it sounds, we’ve all heard it. Though * most * of us have probably never failed for this exaggerated myth, there are other misconceptions about women that people do believe. In fact, there are many myths about women that are widely accepted in our culture.
This is a problem because it enforces gender stereotypes that, in most cases, are used to degrade or be degrading towards women.
These are sexist myths that, though once may have had some truth to them, should know be regarded as lightly as we regard general folklore.
“Get back in the kitchen.”: All women are good at cooking.
With this generalization, we see the emergence of “go back to the kitchen,” which has been popularized in recent times by fourteen-year-old boys looking to establish their male dominance. The common belief that women are the sole providers of meals in the family—cooking, cleaning, making sure everyone has been fed—is something that should have disappeared in the mid-twentieth century, if not as early as the 1930s. The moment the woman stepped into the workforce alongside her husband was the moment they became equals within the household.
Does this mean that we should embrace a concept of “women are terrible cooks?” No. It means that we should understand that being a woman does not automatically guarantee a magical talent of cooking food; nor should being a man make one “become” a bad cook. Not only does this gender myth affect women, but it also affects men. Men who choose to cook food for fun or a living are usually seen as less masculine for enjoying something that women are meant to do. Seeing a balance between man and woman with a task that involves basic human survival is a necessary change we need to see in our modern society.
“But, all women want babies!”: Women have strong maternal instincts.
This is usually the supporting statement for, “but all women really want is a baby!” Whereas women do have a certain balance of genes that cause them to be more emotionally available and nurturing to people, this does not mean that they are all necessarily more maternal than men. There are plenty of men that have cried when their children are born, worry constantly about their children’s well being or would even give their life in order to save their child. While the women who choose to carry their baby for nine months before giving birth are going to have a stronger connection with the child, this in no way constitutes the myth that all women have strong maternal instincts.
Take myself, for instance. I have never felt any strong attachment to a baby. I like kids, but I don’t want them. In fact, I’m probably more emotionally connected to my cat that I’ve rescued and raised than most of my family members. I’ve never found myself wanting kids and I actually find pregnancy kind of repulsive. I even despised baby dolls a child because I thought they smelled weird and refused to touch them. Strong maternal instincts? I think not.
“Women don’t make good doctors.”: They just aren’t as good as men in math and science.
Though, in the United States, the number of male doctors does outweigh that of female doctors, the numbers are ever rising. The notion that men are dominate in the scientific world is a practice that began hundreds and hundreds of years ago—back when women could be stoned for not obeying their husbands. With the increase in medical and technological advancements in the beginning of the twentieth century, gender roles were still strictly enforced, keeping women at home while their husbands changed the course of our future.
Though it was hard for women to have a voice for themselves back in the day, they still made a significant difference. The reason that there are more famous male scientists and mathematicians throughout our history does not lie in the brainpower of the sexes, it lies in the social construct of the times.
“You’ll want to get married eventually.”: Women want a man to take care of them.
This lies within the myth that women are co-dependent creatures; we are in need of a man—a male escort, one might say—in our lives to take care of us. From father to husband, ‘till death do us part. Have women ever truly wanted a man to take care of them, or have they always had a man thrust upon them due to societal standards? Sure, women of the past might have felt the need for a man to watch after them, but these feelings were deep-rooted in the beliefs that were instilled in them since birth: women need men in order to survive.
Since the time of male escorts, chaperones for maidens and Scarlet O’Hara’s revolt against the latter, it has been proven that women are fully functional of taking care of themselves. There will always be women, of course, that are codependent on another person for their happiness, but this applies to men as well, and that’s something we need to accept.
“Are you on your period?”: Women are overly emotional.
Maybe women do show more emotion than men, but they’re biological predisposed to do so. This doesn’t mean that people have the right to degrade the overall quality of women by the simple fact that they understand, and show, emotions. This also doesn’t mean that people—men in particular—have the right to ask us if we’re “on [our] period.” There is such a thing as PMS and it is very, very real, and women don’t usually even realize that it’s affecting them in most cases. Nothing is quite as insulting as hearing “Are you sure you’re not on your period?” Unless you have a period, you really don’t have a place to judge.
I once had a friend tell me that showing emotions showed an intellectual understanding better than those who choose not to cry or show anger. Accepting that you are upset about something and choosing to express it rather than hold it in, shows a mental stability greater than those that hold it in time after time, before exploding like a bomb.
Notice also that women are almost always shamed for their emotions when it comes to sadness or anger. Above all emotions, one should never be shamed for being upset. We are all human and we all feel sadness, jealousy, fear, anger and more.
“You’re such a woman.”: Women are weak.
This is one of the most universal misconceptions about women. Assuming women are weak—either emotionally or physically—comes from the perception that women should be feminine, delicate or “ladylike.” We see this myth being instituted daily with phrases such as “you’re such a woman”, “man up”, “quit being a pussy” (in reference to a woman’s vagina) and “she’s so butch.” The concept that women exhibit less power than men is built up through the idea that they shouldn’t have any power at all. Phrases like the previously mentioned need to be eliminated. This will make us a stronger, more united society that accepts women as strong and powerful, regardless of previous stereotypes.
Myths and misconceptions will always be present in such a diverse and large society. When we see a significant amount of these misconceptions beginning to focus solely on one group however–African Americans, gays, Mexicans, transgenders–we need to band together as one to make sure they stop. Dare I call it political correctness, but you must agree that saying things so misleading about someone is in no way “correct.”
Image Courtesy of: armenianweekly.com