Students should not feel they have to adhere to restrictive gender roles predetermined by American society and the media.
While men and women now have much more freedom to pursue hobbies, interests and careers typically associated with the opposite gender, the pressure to conform to stereotypical roles still exists and affects both sexes equally.
College is a time for exploration. No longer under the often smothering gaze of parents, students often use their newfound freedom in college to branch out and discover themselves in ways they could not in high school. As a part of that exploration, students should not fear breaching traditional gender roles.
Burly Bobcat men who have always wanted to learn how to dance ballet should feel free to explore that interest. Dainty Bobcat females who have always been interested in rugby should likewise take the initiative to pursue that interest without worrying what others will think. No one has the right to limit another person to what they can and cannot do or enjoy based on their gender.
There is no shame in adhering to traditional gender roles, either. If a female wants nothing more than to one day be a stay-at-home mom, she should be able to do so without feeling that desire is wrong. If a man feels most comfortable enjoying activities seen as traditionally masculine, he should be able to do so freely. In fact, any and all interests, regardless of their typical gender association, are valid.
A guy who enjoys sports, beer and crass jokes is not necessarily stupid, boorish or insensitive. A female who enjoys flowers, make-up and fashion is not necessarily air-headed, emotional or prissy. It is unreasonable to assume that we can tell anything about a person’s quality simply by the things they enjoy.
All combinations of masculinity and femininity are acceptable, regardless of a person’s gender. A woman can be feminine and kick ass at hockey, a man can be masculine and enjoy romantic comedies. Just because a man enjoys typically feminine interests or a woman has many traditionally masculine hobbies does not mean they should be treated any differently. Interests, hobbies or career choices have no bearing on a man or woman’s quality as a human being, potential or anything else, for that matter. This should not be such a radical idea. The fact is, people are complex mixtures of their upbringing, experiences, genetics and flat-out random coincidence—one’s interests and aspirations are just a small piece of the puzzle.
While there is nothing wrong with conforming to traditional gender roles, students should realize the opposite is also acceptable. College is a time to explore oneself, and students should not be afraid to explore interests, aspirations, hobbies or anything else simply because they are associated with the opposite gender. Students should use their time in college to pursue their true interests while respecting the choices those around them make, judgment-free.