5 Gender Stereotype That Were The Opposite Not Very Long Ago

4 minutes

Ever walked down the aisles of a toy store? Products in the boy’s store are themed a deep shade of blue and will be filled with action figures, building blocks, toy cars; basically, products that are associated with dominance, activity and masculinity. At the same store, head over to the girl’s section and what you will find is varying shades of pink, filled with barbie dolls, kitchen sets and toy babies (yes, this is a thing).

Our society enforces gender stereotypes from very early on and those impressions stick with us through adulthood. Non-conformists, like the boy in drama class and the girl who in programming class are ridiculed, mocked and even bullied.

But take a walk down history, and you will find out that many gender stereotypes were the exact opposite.

Take the colour pink for example –

In the 18th century, pink was thought to be a colour suited for men and blue for women. In an article by the Atlantic, it was said that “it was perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit with floral embroidery,” and “considered slightly masculine as a diminutive of red,” which was thought to be a “warlike” colour.

Blue, on the other hand, was suited for women. This article in Jezebel says that “..blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

This is just the start – High heels, which is a party/date wear norm was once designed for men.

This article on the BBC explains how high heels were initially worn by Persian horse riders. And when the Europeans came in touch with the Persians, the practice of men wearing high heels became even more widespread.

Just imagine the response a fully grown man in high heels walking down the street today would get?

Year after year, we get constant news about how there are so few women in tech, but did you know the title of the first programmer ever, is held by a woman – Ada Lovelace. In fact, the first programmers of the world’s first programmable computer were women mathematicians.

In fact, the Smithsonian reports that In an article titled “The Computer Girls,” the magazine described the field as offering better job opportunities for women than many other professional careers. It even quoted renowned computer scientist Dr Grace Hopper, who told a reporter, that programming was “just like planning a dinner. You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it’s ready when you need it…. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.”

Look how that turned out.

What’s common between Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan? Yes, they were all former presidents of the United States of America but did you know, they were also former cheerleaders?

Yup, you read that right – cheerleading was originally a guy thing! This article says, up until the world wars, men cheerleaders was the norm and was considered that the reputation of having been a valiant “cheerleader” was one of the most valuable things a boy can take away from college.

Just imagine a guy with a pom-pom at a basketball game today?

Heard the saying boys don’t cry? Well, as recently as the 19th century it was considered honest and brave. Greek, Japanese and medieval history is littered with stories of heroic men bawling their eyes out.

Over the renaissance age, all this changed. This professor from the university of Warwick has chronicled how crying in men have changed through history.

But now, be a man!   

Gender stereotyping does more harm than good and it is important to admonish it wherever it shows up. The arts and humanities, which is meant for women also do a lot of good for men and the sciences, engineering and sports which are meant for men can’t possibly be bad for women. The sooner we remove these biases and let each individual choose what they want to do with life, the faster we move towards a better and less discriminatory world.

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