It might sound like an obvious thing to say, but if two things contradict each other, they can’t both be true. If I think Storm is the best X-Man, and also that Jean Grey is better than Storm, well, something I think must be wrong, because those two things can't be true at the same time! But when we look at the stereotypes people are picking up in school, we notice that actually lots of them contradict each other! So let’s look at a few:
- Like we said last week, girls think boys are more likely to be very smart.
- Some subjects and jobs, like art or nursing, are considered subjects for girls.
- Boys think being clever is not a ‘girly’ trait.
- ‘Girl’ subjects are seen as easier than ‘boy’ subjects.
- Working hard is ‘girly’.
You can find lots of articles about these stereotypes and others. A few links are at the bottom of this post (they’re not super-exciting but they are important). These ideas have been around for a long time, and they’re not going away. In fact, the longer they stick around, the less likely they are to die out, because when people have ‘always known’ something, they’re less likely to question if it’s true. But have you spotted the problem yet? Let’s compare two of those ideas.
‘Being clever is girly.’
‘Girls’ subjects are easier.’
‘Working hard is ‘girly’.
In fact, the idea that working hard is girly is impressively able to contradict itself, all by itself! If working hard is girly, then the harder you work, the more girly you are, and working your hardest is the most girly. But if a really masculine boy can’t work their hardest… How can it be their hardest? It can’t be the most they’re capable of, and also something they’re not capable of - It’s a contradiction yet again.
The Hulk might be able to smash through a planet, whilst Nick Fury would just hurt his hand, but that doesn’t mean Nick Fury can’t put 100% of his effort in. How hard you can try doesn’t have any connection to who you are! If being a boy meant you couldn’t put in 100% effort, how could it be 100% of your effort? Your gender can’t affect the effort you can put into something, so what’s the logic in thinking trying hard is a ‘girl’ thing? There isn’t any - It’s just a stereotype that people believe because they get told it a lot, even though it has no basis in fact. As we’ve seen, it can’t have a basis in fact!
Think about all the stereotypes you hear about; see if you can’t spot more contradictions between them. In fact, it’s always worth thinking about any new idea, checking it actually makes sense instead of just believing it does. Got any examples? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!
Some links about those stereotypes: