WRITTEN BY: RENZNEIL ROBLES
In an era with a firm challenge to redefine societal boundaries, a lot can be learned from the mounting persistence of individuals defying gender norms. What's more inspiring is to see people from all walks of life find comfort in accepting their true selves, overcome stereotypes, and regain the confidence to express their identity in many unique ways.
While this newfound liberty signifies a progressive society, it is crucial to acknowledge that not everyone possesses the proper awareness of the matter. Sometimes, one unknowingly contributes to perpetuating toxic gender beliefs through their daily activities. But the cruel cycle must stop here.
Whether you are pursuing personal growth or aiming for a more inclusive society, let this article guide you with some empowering ways to break gender norms:
1. Acknowledge diversity
Unfortunately, society conditioned us to believe that there are only two genders based on the initial identification of our biological attributes at birth. However, our diversity also lies in our gender, which includes the intricate web of social and cultural roles, behaviors, and characteristics that define us more than "male" or a "female."
One can draw inspiration from the rainbow as the symbol of pride for a more precise understanding. Like the range of its colors— human sexuality and gender identity exist in many expressions. And everyone deserves respect despite where they fall on the spectrum. By acknowledging this diversity in gender, we nurture a safe space where we strive to understand other people without biases and discrimination.
2. Reject gender-exclusive fashion
Gone are the days when the world made a fuss over men wearing skirts or labeled women as lesbians for embracing "manly" attire. The passing of time allowed us to witness the evolution of fashion as a medium to present our individuality. After all, true identity surpasses the boundaries of garments, and it's crucial to recognize that clothing is just a fraction of one's gender expression.
Rather than condoning fashion norms that adhere to the conventional concept of a man and a woman, we must promote respecting each other's clothing preferences. In doing so, we allow individuals to feel no fear in exploring their style and encourage freedom of expression by challenging the confining stereotypes.
3. Normalize using skincare for everyone
Sadly, the association of beauty as a feminine trait has relegated skincare to a practice that men should never do. But in reality, it's simply part of grooming habits and self-care practices for everyone— regardless of gender. Hence, we must end the stigma and consider skincare as one way to invest in health and appearance.
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4. Encourage emotional vulnerability
For far too long, stereotypes dictating that men must always display strength while women are inherently susceptible to being fragile have perpetuated harmful gender norms. In contrast, it seems that people often forget that all human beings, regardless of their gender, have feelings and emotions by nature. Thus, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but is a natural aspect of our shared humanity.
Through the encouragement of emotional vulnerability, we create an environment that values empathy, compassion, and emotional well-being. Although it may seem trivial, it is a significant step toward breaking free from the constraints of societal expectations that limit the potential and well-being of an individual.
5. Shatter gender roles
It takes a lot of effort to understand the complexities of gender and sexuality fully. The process demands commitment, learning and unlearning, and self-reflection. Sometimes, it even requires stepping out of our privilege to see the bigger picture. But it only takes an open mind to correct our false ideals of what is masculine or feminine.
You can start it by contesting unfair expectations rooted in the belief that gender determines capability. Instead, recognize that everyone is entitled to the freedom to pursue their passions and talents without limitations. Breaking gender roles means embracing that women can be leaders in various fields. Breaking gender roles means supporting men excelling as househusbands or in traditionally feminine roles.
6. Learn more, be an ally
The intent to break gender norms comes from genuine acceptance, not mere tolerance, that we are all beautifully and uniquely differentiated by how we see and express ourselves. And the best way we can be a voice of empowerment is to learn more about the issue and be an ally that will advocate for change. It does not stop with only knowing; we must pair it with actions that actively contribute to dismantling gender norms.
Learn by reading books or articles, listening to podcasts, or hearing stories directly from various individuals to broaden your perspective. Through awareness, we equip ourselves for the long fight to foster a society where we celebrate inclusivity, and nobody no longer needs to hide.