Time to end gender stereotypes

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Ever since I can remember, media have taught me that girls are supposed to be softhearted and gentle, whereas boys are supposed to be tough and fearless. Even in the Disney movies I watched so many times as a kid, the hero was usually an extremely buff male who prevails over his enemy in an aggressive fight in the end scene.

In movies, especially action movies, the protagonist is most likely a tall, good-looking male who is extremely fit and strong. He often uses his physical strength to save the damsel in distress. Controlling women, power and money are also features that media portray as being masculine.

In other movies and in television, men who are portrayed as soft or kind-hearted are often used as comic relief, not necessarily as the strong lead character.

On Sept. 20, Emma Watson, a British actress and Goodwill ambassador for U.N. Women, advocated for equality of the genders. In her speech, she launched the HeforShe initiative, which involves women and men coming together to get rid of the stereotypes put on the two genders, including the “tough guy” persona that stereotypes can require of men.

I think it’s important to recognize how media and society expect men to be fearless, tough and controlling. The University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center has recently received more funding for a new program meant to involve more males in sexual violence education and prevention programs. This is a great way to guide men to engage positively in these types of issues.

I also think that, as a society, we should address these gender expectation issues more vocally. We should all understand that muscle tone and aggression don’t define you as a man. Showing and sharing emotions can actually prove that you’re just as strong as any action hero.