Failing to accept ourselves for who we are can cause enormous problems. Wanting to be muscle-bound like Joey or slim like Susie could get us into trouble if our body type doesn't conform to these images. But stereotypes are more subtle than muscles and body weight. Masculine and feminine images portrayed in media also project their own psychological mystiques. These imagesinfluence our children, usually without them (or us) realizing it.
Consider what gender stereotypes affect you and your relationships with others. Ask yourself:
- How do you define "stereotype?"
- What are some typical examples? ("A group of teens in a store must be shoplifting," "Dumb blondes," "Men don't cry.")
These beliefs are so ingrained in our consciousness that many of us think that gender roles are natural, and do not question them. Even if we don't consciously subscribe to them, our culture bombards us with messages about what it means to be men and women today. During this session, the most important thing to keep in mind is: We do not have to accept the limits of stereotypes. We have the power to decide what makes sense for us.