Studies show that children believe that the male and female genders are equivalent only until the age of five, after which girls begin feeling inferior to boys. The question we have to ask ourselves is "why? Why do children as young as six years old feel bound by gender roles?"
The media has a profound impact on the lives of these children. Just look at how cartoons are made. Cartoons that are sold to young girls are made more "feminine" in nature by putting in lots of pink, reds, and warm colors. The cartoons sold to young boys have much cooler colors and themes. Pink is said to symbolize tenderness, calm, acceptance, and romance while blue mainly symbolizes integrity, knowledge, intelligence, and power. It’s no wonder girls and boys feel the need to conform to strict roles when they’ve been told to follow certain paths from a young age
Advertisements play a huge role in childrens' conformance to certain gender roles. Most ads (at least on Indian television) show men in a position of power and women as the nurturer or caretaker. Advertisements featuring household or grocery items are only pitched to women. From flour to hand creams, women are shown as the more gentle and homely gender. They are always portrayed as the ones that are expected to cook, clean, and take care of the children. The ads pitched to men are usually those of vehicles and deodorants where women follow them around like brainless buffoons, swooning over how they smell. In the ads made for women, men are shown as very busy and important people while women are inferiors, and in those made for men, men are shown as more powerful and appealing wherein women are seen to have no brain of their own and are treated as prizes rather than people.
Every single Indian daily soap has women seen working in the household and men working outside to earn a wage. Working women are single-handedly supposed to run their workplace and their households and many of them have been forced to sacrifice their careers to settle down and take care of their in-laws in order to be accepted as "good" wives and daughters-in-law.
I say it’s time we step up and change the image we portray for young girls across the globe; they need to see more women in roles where they are holding positions equal to or above men. They need to see more women of different skin tones on TV so that they can relate to them. Young girls should be taught that they can achieve anything and everything that they set their minds to; not that their sole purpose is to produce an heir to whichever man they marry.
It’s our job to ensure that the upcoming generations know that they can scale great heights. So let’s show them that women can be better doctors, engineers, lawyers, bankers, and artists. That they needn’t sacrifice their careers for anyone else. Let’s show them that they deserve the same amount of respect and dignity as their male coworkers.
We aren’t the weaker gender. We never were. It’s time we let the rest of the world see it too.