Have you ever felt like something was expected of you solely based on your gender? For example, as a girl you may have felt pressured to play with dolls, like the color pink or even learn how to cook; as a boy, you may have been told to ‘man up’ or been told that showing emotion is weak. These are the expectations that society has created for people of different genders. In other words, these are the roles that have been socially allocated according to gender.
While there has been considerable awareness regarding unfair and problematic expectations, one cannot deny the long-lasting effects of gender stereotyping, mostly right after birth. Since their childhood, you hear girls being told to be caring and nurturing, and boys dominating and assertive. This can cause many to grow up and believe that these traits are the ones perfectly fit for them. Being a strong woman or a sensitive man is looked down upon, even though there is nothing objectively wrong about it.
Gender roles can be troublesome. For example, if a boy is constantly told not to cry and to suppress his emotions, he will grow up not knowing how to feel and process them, which can lead to a lot of pent up aggression and sadness coming out in bursts. Similarly, if a girl is constantly told to be understanding and forgiving, she will grow up making excuses for even those people in her life who are causing her harm or taking advantage of her; she would not know how to be assertive or stand up for herself.
It is important to remember that no matter what gender you identify as, you should be able to express yourself the way you deem right, regardless of what labels or expectations society has placed on you. While you may face resistance when refusing to conform to societal expectations, remember that wanting to be who you are is not a crime!