I was listening to Grayson Perry talking on the radio today about his new book looking at gender and particularly the roles of men. It was interesting to hear an alternative view of masculinity and an appeal to redefine what men are made of. The issue for me was less about the discussion I was hearing and more about the fact that when we discuss gender issues we fall into stereotypes very quickly.
Women are always labelled in some way by society. If they have a career and no family then they must be tough ‘ball-breakers’ whereas if they have a family then they are obviously mumsy. It is something that women have been fighting for years and the battle continues.
If you are seen to discuss and champion equality for women then you are a feminist, a word that over my lifetime has become more of an insult. Women that are attractive and take a care in their appearance are branded as ‘eye-candy’ and ‘air heads’. The labels are applied within seconds of meeting someone. The sad thing is that this is not just something men are doing, women do it. In fact, women can be more damaging to other women than any man.
We need to make a change. We need to challenge those stereotypes. We need to avoid writing in generalities as we are causing damage. Any movement around this needs to develop and be more positive about life. It needs to bring women together to support each other and find ways to remove those stereotypes. In 2016 we should not have the same views that categorise people.
The key to the change starts in nursery, primary school and throughout education. It is in the hands of all the new parents and soon to be new parents. They can change for the better or reinforce the old pattern of behaviour. Let us forge a new future where the gender issues start to disappear.