I’m a girl caddie! I defy my traditional gender roles!

Paola Gonzalez

Part of working as a caddie includes carrying a golf bag that weighs approximately 30-45 pounds for about four hours. One day, my co-worker (who happened to be male) and I were standing with our assigned golf bags waiting for our round to begin. When the golfers came out to greet us, my member took one look at me and said, “That bag has to be way too heavy for you to be able to carry.” I told him it was fine, and it wasn’t very heavy. However, he proceeded to tell me that since I was a girl, I shouldn’t be lifting a bag that is heavy, so he took his belongings out of the bag I was carrying, and he put them into my co-workers’ bag. He told me not to worry because my co-worker was a big strong guy and would have no trouble carrying the heavy bag during the entire round. I was surprised to see how a someone could believe I was somehow less capable of completing a task simply because of my gender. In our society, there exists certain characteristics and traits that are viewed as normal or acceptable for each gender; and anyone that doesn’t match with their set rules are viewed as unnormal. However, defying gender roles is beneficial to our society because it allows people of certain genders to explore new interests, people will act based on experience rather than by stereotypes, and it gives women the opportunity to be viewed as less inferior in society. 

Defying gender roles in society is beneficial because it allows people to express themselves the way they want to, and the way that society has decided for them.  When people go against gender norms it gives them to an opportunity to attempt hobbies that they would not have been able to try out if they would have followed the norms. YouTube celebrity, James Charles is a 19-year-old boy who has become famous for the makeup tutorials and looks he posts on the social media platform. He has teamed up with well-known make-up brands to create his own make-up products. Typically, it is not acceptable for males to wear make-up because it is viewed as a woman’s product. However, James Charles has inspired millions of boys across the world to express themselves through this form of art, despite being told that it is inappropriate for males to work with make-up. Gender roles limit people to act and dress in a way that matches their gender. YouTuber Collen Ballinger recently made a video where she goes clothes shopping for her baby boy. She notices that all of the boy clothes are blue, brown and dark colors; and all the shirts have sayings related to being a trouble maker or getting dirty. While all the girl’s clothes were pink and sparkling and they talked about being pretty and a princess. These norms restrict people from being able to dress the way they want and to be able to express themselves through their clothing. Without gender norms existing, people can convey their true selves without being held back by the limitations set by society.  

Gender roles harm society by causing people to behave in a manner that has been stereotyped towards their gender. Gender norms normalize negative behaviors and characteristics. One day scrolling through social media, I came across a photo that had gone viral of a man holding a poster with the popular saying “boys will be boys.” However, he had crossed off the word “boys” and replaced it with “whatever they are taught to be.” The man was protesting the arguments made defending men who had raped women because it was normal behavior for men and that the women had been asking for it. Society justifies harmful choices as a regular way of life, instead of emphasizing how both boys and girls will follow the example of those around them. People of any gender will behave the way they were taught and influenced by their parents and peers, not by the way society tells them to act. Psychologist, Albert Bandura conducted an experiment where children watched adults play violently with Bobo dolls. When it was the children’s turn to play with the dolls, they displayed the same violent actions they had seen and learned from the adults. Demonstrating that people are not predisposed to act in a particular way, it is our environment that influences and determines how we will act in society. By defying gender norms, we are able to overcome the stereotypes that have been given to us. 

On the other hand, many continue to argue that gender norms should be followed and obeyed. It is believed that in order for each gender to maximize the use of their skills given to them by nature, they must follow the regulations that have been set before them and passed on through generations.  One day while having a conversation with my grandparents, they said that it is the man’s job to do the heavy work and labor because there is no way for a woman to be capable of completing the same rigorous tasks. They stated that a woman’s place in in the home, looking after her children and husband because that is simply the way things are and that is what we are each best at doing. Their beliefs are creating barriers around each gender, creating limits and dictating the way the rest of our lives will be. They lead us to believe that we are incapable of achieving our true purpose in life and cause us to conform to society’s purpose for us. The “Like a Girl” campaign by Always focused on teaching young girls that they can become anything they want to be despite being told they are unable to because of their gender. The once discouraged girls, learn to take pride in who they are and begin to fight for who they want to become. By overcoming gender norms, we are tearing down barricades that prevent us from achieving our goals and reaching the greatest potential. 

Obeying gender norms damages our society because it limits us to only becoming what everyone else allows us to become. By going against these regulations, we give ourselves a sense of freedom to decide who we will become, how we will act, and how we will portray our true identity. Only by defeating these “norms”, we will be fully able to grow and prosper into the best possible society we are capable of being.