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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Gender stereotypes are not always true

Published: November 10, 2006
Section: Opinions

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)

It is disrespectful and deconstructive to outright attack people or their views, so I will to my utmost ability refrain from doing so in relation to the article Taking a page out of the guys book that appeared in last weeks edition of The Hoot. I was very much disturbed with the articles strong polarization and dichotomization of the sexes. It excluded entire and considerable populations that either do not identify with one of these hetero-normative labels or who do not buy into the pop-culture ideals of beauty and self-worth. It also reinforces grossly misleading and inaccurate stereotypes of men and women.

I consider myself neither a minority nor an anomaly to admit that I am a female who refuses to spend hours on a daily beauty regime (my self-worth is never diminished nor compromised by rolling out of bed and stumbling greasy-haired to class, and I cant even count the times Ive hurried to class still sweaty after a run). I felt this article did everything to encourage the women at Brandeis to accept the notion that the experience of the author is somehow universal and that the reality she presents is immutable and unavoidable. In this spirit of simply offering an alternative view, I proclaim that there is another way! There are many others ways, actually, all which succeed in sustaining ones dignity. The writer says, I just would like to care a little less. It would be nice to throw on the first thing I touch in my closet and walk out the door without checking the mirror or worrying that I didnt put on lip gloss.

Come to the dark side, Sarahits so much easier here, where self-confidence and self-respect do not hinge on things as trifling and inconsequential as flat-ironed hair and pearls. Truly, this notion ought not to be regarded as just a silly dream, but as a possibility, as well as recognized as a lifestyle to which a considerable amount of both men and women do adhere. These men and women still have lives, people still like them, and they are still successful.

What struck me the most in this article was the line, That grungy look just doesnt cut it for girls who want to be seen as attractive and put-together. What is grungy? Some would consider anything less than designer clothes and expensive perfume paired with layers of makeup and carefully coiffed hair to be sobut, if I may, not only does this shed light on a glaring socio-economic divide at Brandeis and beyond, it also harkens back to the good old days of high school and even junior high when our small minds couldnt help but mold a social hierarchy based on the freaks,” the grunge kids,” the jocks,” the rich kids,” the punks,” etc. Furthermore, for many women and men, this grungy look is a form of expression against the popular notions of beauty and personal worthand it sure does weed out those shallow enough to judge you on your looks.

Also, in response to the numerous mentions of the enviously effortless and careless beauty regimes of men, this serves a great disservice to the large numbers of men who do in fact shower regularly and take care of their appearance. More importantly, though, is the fact that these social obsessions with appearance and acceptance have invaded not only women, but also men just as fairly and often just as cruelly in the form of excessive diet and exercise and unhealthy anxiety over their appearance.

Like any other person, I sure hope that people like me, because I want to attract people to be my friends, because friends are really wonderful people to have supporting and entertaining me. That said, I could give a damn if my friends care how I look, and if any one of them actually felt the need to comment on the subject, I do not see that we would be friends much longer than it would take me to shake my head and walk away. Just as well, the same goes for those to whom I am attracted and wish to attract. I feel that I have infinitely more to provide another person than just a pretty face or well-dressed figure (plus, my physical beauty has nothing to do with my clothes being on). I would be infinitely happy to know that I actually repel those who would judge me on the basis of a first glance.

Ladies, we deserve better not only from those around us, but also from ourselves. Sarahs article seemed to dance along the idea that maybe something is not quite right about what society leads us to believe and how it leads us to act in our daily lives. In my opinion, that hypothesis is gravely correct, and I personally feel it is a burden and injustice which we all, men and women alike, must take upon ourselves to change in the hopes of freeing our sons and daughters from this prison that we have ourselves constructed and from which we must ourselves escape.