How many ‘get back in the kitchen’ style jokes have you had in your adult life?
Maybe it was the generation I was born in to or just the things that I was exposed to when I was younger. It was still quite a male-dominated world at the beginning of the '80s and I am not sure I realised that.
There are numerous well-meant jokes and comments said between friends and even family that continue to compound harmful and hurtful stereotypes.
There was a lot of talk about women's rights but how much had really changed? It was more just the beginning of a dialogue that was to set a course for a more equal world.
However, the problem I have noticed is the residual mindset passed down from older generations. As I meet younger women and listen to how they speak about their place in the world, I am surprised by how differing this is to what I grew up to understand.
I feel like I am playing catch up to something I never knew was happening. I wonder how many other women my age are also doing the same? How many of the jokes said in jest have fed into your subconscious to further define your role as a woman.
Young woman today are taught to hear things that I don’t. There is such inequality in so many off the cuff remarks that I have become accustomed to. I don’t even recognise as being unequal.
- You’re not like other women
- She is the best female DJ I've ever seen
- Women are just naturally really good at multi-tasking, that’s why they do most of the organising at home.
It took me a while to work out why some of these statements are in-equal, I was surprised at myself. I thought I was aware in terms of my rights. I started to listen differently to things I hear and it's like I'm tuned in on a new frequency.
These comments and jokes will take a few more generations to die out until true equality prevails, for men and women. There are equally the same damaging comments for men, instilling in them they must be the provider, or young boys when are told to be 'the man of the house' when Dad goes out.
For every derogative comment about women there is a flip side that also goes to define what a mans role is 'supposed' to be. How many times has your man been handed the bill when you were the one paying? It just reinforces to men that they must 'Provide'.
We need to learn to hear those comments when said to us. Stop allowing them to compound an image of how a bygone society feels we should be or behave.
Equally, we need to stop segregating ourselves from each other. The idea of a 'Boys' holiday makes me furious. The thought that I might not be able to attend because I have a vagina just fills me with rage. However, I would totally get the concept of a bunch of old mates rekindling the old days. It's all in the phasing.
It's a huge subject and this is only a tiny space. We are not going to fix it all in these few paragraphs. However, what we can do is cultivate awareness of how we speak to each other. Being aware of the expectations we have on those around us and understanding where those expectations came from. Are they based on societal pressures or outdated gender roles? Are they your words or archaic phrases that continue to repress?
Equality is a two-way street we are not fighting for women to become the dominant gender. We are fighting for an equal society. Where judgements are passed on our individual merits.
Our biggest strength as individuals is our voice. We all have the opportunity to use that strength for the greater good. It's up to you to change the way the world talks.