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Gender stereotypes set gender discrimination and primitive gender roles in motion.

From the time a child is born, they are subjected to the Gender norms prevailing in the society, from smallest things like to what color they should like to what occupation one should choose is defined by the person's gender. These stereotypes have been embedded in brains. Society teaches us "pink is for girls while blue is for the boys, boys take part in sports while girls play house and when they grow older, we are taught that men are the breadwinner of the family while women take upon the role of the homemaker". These gender stereotypes, at its core, are a belief that causes its holder to make assumptions about members of the subject group; women, men, and other genders.

These gender stereotypes can be both positive and negative in nature, for instance, you may find people generalizing that "women are naturally nurturing" which is a positive outlook on the other hand there are people who stereotype "women as a weaker gender" often even dehumanizing women to a mere object for taking care of family, children and house chores. They set gender discrimination and primitive gender roles in motion.

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In an Indian context being born as a woman means, you'll have to face gender discrimination at all stages of life, and will be expected to play certain roles as a "woman". Indian households invest less in their girl child's education as they see them as liabilities that need to be married off. They limit household chores, raising children, and looking after families to women of the family irrespective of their education degree or job profile, "If you're a woman it is your 'job' to take care of the family". Even at the workplace women have limited access to job opportunities and are paid lesser wages than a man for the same work.

It's not just women that are subjected to gender discrimination due to these gender stereotypes. Just like women, men are constricted by stereotypes and penalized if they act outside their traditional gender roles. Society expects them to be strong and tough, if they ever so slightly let their sensitive emotions out, they are immediately perceived as less competent, and told statements like "be a man" "come on, boys don't cry" etc. Indiscriminately, men fall victim to the prevailing patriarchal society in India, which leads to severe damage to their mental and social well-being.

If a boy or a girl doesn't act in a way that they are taught, and in a way, that's expected from that particular gender, they are often criticized by society, their peers, and their parents. They're called names and treated disrespectfully. Any stereotype is harmful if it defines the limitations of a person's capability to develop their abilities, make their own life choices, life plans, and pursue a professional career.

Gender stereotypes for men Just like women, men are constricted by stereotypes and penalized if they act outside their traditional gender roles. Unsplash

Gender stereotypes have seeped into the Indian Constitution, failing the justice system to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable based on stereotypical views about "women's appropriate sexual behavior" i.e., what were they wearing, at what time they were out of their house, their dating and sexual history and all the other act that society say are "inviting". Moreover, the constitution does not even recognize male victims of sexual harassment.

Section 375 of The Indian Penal Code defines rape as—"A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case here in after excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under certain circumstances", completely dismissing the male victims. The international human rights law frameworks are concerned with these stereotypes and stereotyping that brainwashes people and adversely affects the human rights and fundamental freedom of people.

ALSO READ: Time to Break Gender Stereotypes!

No discrimination on basis of sex is a fundamental right of each citizen of India. Gender stereotyping is still a deep-rooted problem in Indian society. Indian legal system is filled with gender-specific laws, giving more rights to women, because, in earlier times, women were dehumanized to the level of a commodity for men. Educating Indian children and parents about the importance of gender equality is the first step in that direction. Gender-neutral upbringing needs to be encouraged to tackle the ill gender stereotypes that rob people of their human rights.

Keywords: Gender roles, gender norms, discrimination, patriarchy, women empowerment, the mental health of men, fundamental rights, stereotypes.



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