The Male Standard

We live in a time where little girls, for the most part, are told that they can do anything, and they can be anything. They’re told to break the glass ceiling and they do so by breaking out of the norms that have been used to hold them back for so long.

Girls being told that they can do anything alludes to them being able to join masculine fields and adopt masculine traits but the same doesn’t apply for boys. We have always fought to break the gender binary, but why does that always include rejecting skirts and dolls?

I spent most of my childhood and teenage years hating all things girly. I used to think that highly feminine women could never be feminists and that they were complicit in reproducing sexism. I have had to remind myself that enthusiastically watching princess movies and passionately loving pink does not make anyone any less valuable. I realized how problematic this was, because while I did believe men and women were equal, I still recognized masculinity as superior.

For the most part, breaking the gender binary implies  the rejection of femininity, yet says nothing about rejecting masculinity. Male is the standard we use to measure the rest of the world. This says something about the value we place on masculinity and femininity. If you praise girls who loves sports while criticizing girls who love makeup you are reproducing the notion that femininity is inferior. Anything that is seen as feminine is still occupying a lower status than what is masculine.

Why should male be the standard? There is nothing wrong with wearing skirts, playing with dolls, or loving pink. Gender equality does not mean teaching girls to be like boys, but it does entail placing the same value on femininity as we do on masculinity.

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