~DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER~
From a very young age, boys and girls like to tease each other that they are a part of the ‘better gender’. Things like - ‘Girls are smarter’, ‘No! Boys are smarter, and we’re stronger too’, are yelled across the playground even in first school, and as we get older the arguments can become laced with something else – a desire to prove that we are superior. But where does this desire come from? And why is it that we are so busy focusing on ourselves, our own gender, and seeing everyone else as ‘less’ that we forget we are all in fact young people going through similar pressures and problems.
I’ll give an example – the media plays a huge part in every teenagers life, and I know that girls (like me) undergo a lot of pressure to be skinny, look glamorous, keep up with the latest trends and know what’s ‘hip’ and what’s not. Until quite recently I believed that girls had a MUCH tougher time than boys did – male models are almost never super skinny, certainly not borderline anorexic like some female models you see on the catwalk, but never did I stop to actually take a good look at how men are portrayed by the media. In my mind girls were the victims, we were the ones that had it hard, not boys.
When I opened my eyes, and it really did not take more than looking at ONE magazine, I realised that there is SO much pressure on boys to be strong, fit and ‘tough’. A classic male model is ripped, tall, with a sharp jawline and apparently if you want to model for underwear or perfume make sure you bring enough baby oil to fill a bath tub – I mean pa-leeeeaase is that really meant to be a realistic role model or figure for boys to set their aspirations to. In films and TV shows men almost always take the role of the family ‘provider’, and while girls’ characters are exaggerated so far that many boys now believe when we are on our periods we physically are not capable of doing anything but crying on the couch eating Nutella or Ben & Jerry’s, men are equally exaggerated to either live in suits or a football kit. Never showing much emotion, always the ‘shoulder to cry on’.
Noticing this brought a strong understanding of why many boys are the way they are. Why they don’t show as much emotions as we do, why they sometimes focus so much on sports, and less so on relationships, friendships, or family. When I stopped acting like a princess, like I was the victim, had an excuse to be moody and emotional, and stopped thinking that they were just arrogant or disrespectful by nature, I saw that everything I go through, they go through too. All my life I had just expected boys to be kind and expressive, and when they weren’t I got angry and didn’t think about the huge pressure to be ‘tough’ and not show any emotion; compassion, sadness, guilt, joy, as that was a sign of apparent ‘weakness’.
Obviously I only know what it’s like from a girl’s perspective, so I felt to ask guys the same question – putting aside the gender dispute of who’s better, are there things about a girls life you can appreciate or learn from?
‘I see so much pressure put on girls to be skinny and have the 'perfect body'. These pressures come from places like social media sites, magazines, newspapers and their own peers. Because of how much pressure there is, I find it amazing that some girls choose to be themselves and they don't go out to get the perfect body either by starving themselves or wearing excessive amounts of make-up. I’ve noticed that a lot of girls do those things though, and I know it can be quite tough not to’.
Boy, Aged 14.
And this statement in itself, makes me wonder what it would be like if girls and boys could LEARN from each other’s behaviours, rather than judge or compare. Girls are stereotypically, and from my experience generally more expressive than boys – they like to talk their issues out, rather than keep them bottled up. So what would it look like if guys stopped seeing what they’re going through as ‘weak’, and started to open up more? Maybe then they would feel less need to let out their anger during aggressive sports like rugby, boxing or martial arts (side note: girls do this too!) and often injuring themselves in the process.
There is a lot for girls to learn too. We often make dramas out of the littlest of things, and our jealousy and comparison with each other can be quite extreme. I’m not saying boys have these things perfect, but there is certainly a way they go about things that requires less complication and ‘bitchiness’.
And could it be that the way to learn is to observe each other?
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.