Opinion: A month to celebrate the slow defeat of sexism and stereotypes

Faith Piercy, Staff Writer

While this month is focused on women’s history and rights, it is a time to reflect on gender equality as a whole, which is a critical need today as gender neutrality has broken the previous conventions of society’s gender norms.
This year’s theme “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”, is accompanied by the hashtag #BreakTheBias, based on the aim of a gender equal world, free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. This fits perfectly with the rise of a gender neutral environment. In the past, gender norms and roles have defined what it means to be a woman. The 1950s and 60s were dominated by the trapped housewife, where many women felt their only purpose in life was to serve others.
Over the years, society has slowly broken down some barriers and made progress. However, with the rise of discussion on gender fluidity, it has become increasingly noticeable how these norms affect gender expression and identity.
A current senior at East addressed the same concerns, saying how “gender roles are not beneficial and should not be a thing. A person’s gender and identity is a choice, and should not be belittled by someone else because of their identity.
It does not matter if a boy wears pink or a girl knows how to change a tire.” Gender has always been a social construct, something that society can have a hard time grasping. People need to learn that “gender is a choice for what best suits you. Gender is separate from sex, sex is your chromosomal makeup, but gender is fluid. Your choice for what your gender is, is personal’’.
When people separate the two, it is easier to allow the world to become a more gender neutral place, where people feel free to express themselves however they’d like. In the past, they have felt like “my whole life I thought I had to dress as a stereotypical girl, and would go out of my way to be perceived as feminine. Thinking I had to be one way only pushed me further away from being who I wanted to be. I was never happy until I stepped away from society’s gender roles.”
Gender norms and roles have existed for long enough, and while society starts to break barriers, it is important to continue to push for progress.“I have never seen a gender neutral clothing section before, even at a store where I work,” they said. “It is a very diverse store with diverse clothes but does not have a gender neutral section. I would like for more stores to have gender neutral sections specifically because of style and sizing. I am too short to wear a lot of mens clothing but do not feel comfortable in women’s clothing.”
Some brands and stores have finally started moving towards a more gender neutral environment, something that should have existed long ago. For example, Target has started implementing gender neutral sections for clothing and less gender based signs in stores. For toys, late last year Lego announced their decision to remove gender bias from its toys after conducting surveys where young girls felt they were ready to break away from the stereotypes.
Additionally, fashion and beauty has progressed with many designers pursuing gender neutral lines, filled with fluidity and inclusiveness that promote freedom in gender expression, another thing that should have existed long ago.
With the rise of all of this comes a slow defeat in sexism, as the gender norms that once separated men and women start to break down. This month is not only to let people know about women’s history and rights, but also to address stereotypes and learn how to progress as a society.
One example of a stereotype specific to women is around feminists, assuming people who fall under that category are harsh activists with the belief that women should be deemed the superior sex, yet it simply just defines a feminist as someone who advocates for women’s rights through equality of the sexes.
Progressing as a society requires support from all types of people, moving past the stigmas and fear of change to create a better world for ourselves. This can be done by supporting and advocating for women, educating yourself, or registering for events and participating in forms of feminism.