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Opinion

Shattering gender roles and expectations: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day isn’t solely about the achievements of non-male individuals and addressing how powerful women (and womxn) can be.

It’s also about open discussion about the ways in which society still treats women, not to mention how change for women is an ongoing process, as everything is.

Even with society moving forwards in regards to gender – how we view and understand it, and encouraging people be their authentic selves – gender roles and expectations are still alive and well.

All of it lives on within fashion, (heteronormative) relationships, media, and other parts of the world that haven’t caught up to progressive ideas.

The unfortunate fact is that not every woman in the world can openly celebrate this day or themselves.

Challenging expectations

In the West, the reality of gender roles hasn’t always been very open for discussion.

Over the past decade, people have become more vocal about it and what they wish to see changed.

Society has set up these roles that dictate what women and men are supposed to do and be within and outside of their personal lives.

For women and those who align themselves with womanhood, it’s about nurturing, homemakers, mothering, passive, submissive, and so on – particularly if they find themselves in relationships with men.

Do some individuals prefer leaning into gender roles, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation? Sure, that can be more comfortable and easy for some, though the question of why must come into play, and examining the problematic purposes of gender roles and expectations is important.

But in this day and age, women are more expressive about their independence and how they want to define themselves and their womanhood.

More women are vocal, firm, dominant, claiming attributes that have been deemed stereotypically ‘male’.

There’s been a bold shattering of what women should be like and how they should perform in life.

Intersectional womanhood

Many women who exist in multiple marginalised groups are especially shattering expectations.

Some black women are no longer forcing themselves to be strong or prioritising the black men in their lives.

Some queer women (who present as femme) aren’t allowing people in the community to push them around or box them in.

And being assertive, for women, is an active form of resistance to gender stereotypes and roles.

However, even when challenging these gender expectations and stereotypes, there’s no shame in embracing your own womanhood.

Nor is there shame in being femme or participating in what’s considered stereotypically feminine and enjoying it.

It doesn’t mean you love living by binary standards and are a complete hypocrite.

A woman embracing their own individual womanhood is smashing expectation and giving a middle finger to society.

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