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Gender Stereotypes- Myths or Facts?
1. Women are bad drivers. (“Women Can’t Drive and Park for ****)
Firstly, I believe that it is important to consider the exact way the question was phrased- asking “who would be a good driver” versus “who would be a bad driver” could lead to wholly different results.
This particular gender stereotype was actually discussed in my recent tutorial session, where a fellow undergraduate shared that there was a study where the recordings of CCTV placed in carparks showed that on average, women were able to park their cars into the lots faster and neater than men. This may tie in to how despite there being a stereotype that females are less proficient at driving than their male counterparts, males are still believed to be more rash and impatient while driving and parking. Hence, if the sex of those involved in accidents was taken into account, this particular stereotype may be challenged.
Moreover, this gender stereotype links to how men supposedly have better psychomotor and spatial navigation skills. However, I believe that socialization and upbringing may have a role in positioning women as bad drivers and vice versa. For example, men are greater exposed to toys like trucks and remote controlled cars since a young age and it is essential to remember that such forms of entertainment may also have a spillover educational effect thus leading to greater familiarity with handling vehicles. In addition, this gender stereotype is deeply ingrained in our society such that it may even showcase the theory of the “looking-glass self” put forward by the prominent symbolic interactionist sociologist, Charles Cooley. When applied to this subject, the theory of the “looking-glass self” may argue that women internalize the discriminating stereotype and come to exhibit the behavior by driving with less confidence and ‘skill’.
2. Men can better tolerate stench than women (“Men are Freaking Slobs”)
While it is interesting that the hormonal changes in females during menstruation is said to increase their sensitivity to smells, other less scientific explanations may shed light on this stereotype as well. The article presents that “men are freaking slobs” because only they can wear the same sweat-stained clothing for a whole week while a real woman would never be able to do the same. I feel that the word “real” used here is deserving of some discussion as it clearly depicts the criteria and extent women are judged based on their cleanliness and fragrance or stench. This is related to the greater emphasis that is usually placed on females and their appearance as compared to that of males. Truly, it is deemed acceptable for boys to return to their classrooms dirty and smelly after spending their recess chasing each other around without more than a bat of an eyelash whereas girls who do the same will probably receive a scolding for their “unbecoming, unladylike behavior”. Societal expectations and conditioning may cause women to subconsciously develop a greater sensitivity towards smells and guard against their body odors whereas even if men are aware of their own stench, they may not see the need to care as much.
3. Women love to talk. (“Women Love to Talk (and Talk)”)
The article talks about how the difference in brain wiring lead to different communication patterns in men and women, while an existing argument is that they tend to think silently while females do so by voicing out their thoughts. While I acknowledge the above arguments, I would also like to highlight how it seems that boys are taught to restrain their emotions by “acting like a man” and bite back their tears while girls are given greater allowance to cry since their childhood days. Similarly, it is acceptable for girls to vocalize their feelings and share what they are going through with others while boys commonly feel the need to solve their own problems by themselves. I feel that media has had a significant role in contributing to this long-standing stereotype through the numerous scenes of crying females and portrayals of the gossipy housewives and giggling high school girls. Thus, the roots of this stereotype needs to be better examined and it may be more fair to conclude that men and women just tend to talk about different issues during their conversations instead of claiming that women talk much more.
In conclusion, gender stereotypes lead to weighty conclusions and exist in the way we view everyday behavior. It is crucial to distinguish the myths from the realities and consider such assumptions through a sociological perspective to enhance our understanding of the gender system that each one of us is a part of.
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