As a teenage girl, I have been in many situations in which people would be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their gender.
At my middle school, we had a very strict dress code; this code was a long list of rules that mostly applied to girls and only a few that regarded boys. We couldn’t wear skirts or shorts that were shorter than one inch above the knee while boys wore shorts that reached their mid-thigh. We would get in trouble if a sliver of our bra strap unintentionally slipped out of our tank top and was visible, but boys proudly showed off their entire obliques with long tank tops.
A number of the office staff would monitor the hallways and send any student who was out of dress code to the office. Coincidentally, the majority of students who were pulled out of class to go to the dean and call their parents were female.
On many occasions, girls were sent home to get clothes that were more “appropriate” for school; ergo, depriving them of valuable class-time. The school’s system was unjust and unfair to girls, and it is a perfect example of the inequity gender double standards encourage.
I spoke to seven high school students, all of whom stated that they were against double standards. They said that double standards are discriminatory and infuriating.
In fact, Los Angeles High School of the Arts junior Vanessa Jin says, “everyone is equal and generalizing/double standards make me want to rip someone’s head off.”
Sophomore Sean Kim says that he “personally thinks that gender double standards are constantly fluctuated and aren’t properly understood. People always contradict the concept of it when they feel it benefits them most at a certain time.”
When asked which gender is judged more harshly, the majority of teens replied with females. Name-calling and slut-shaming of women is common among men.
Junior Jeffrey Park points out that “women have it hard in modern society because of their appearances. For example, when women wear clothes that expose some of their body parts, men tend to call these women ‘sluts.’”
People are constantly pressured to fit into these guidelines that society has created and feel intimidated by them. Females are constantly scrutinized if they aren’t physically attractive by society’s standards.
Freshman Tiffany Kim acknowledges that “it’s a social standard as in ‘being skinny’, ‘being tall’, ‘having a small face’, [and] ‘having a thigh gap’.” If you don’t have the features that society believes to be desirable, you are not considered socially acceptable.
It seems as if females undergo the majority of this burden, but males also experience the pressure.
Sophomore Justin Lee states that “the ideal physique for a male is a fairly muscular image, but not too muscular and not too skinny. Every other desirable feature is out of our reach if we weren’t born with it.”
There are specific roles that we must fill because of our gender. Girls are demoted if they don’t act feminine and boys if they don’t seem strong.
Lee comments that “the general idea of a woman is supposed to be classy and elegant whereas the general idea of a man is more lenient.” Although he believes females have it harder than males when it comes to living by guidelines, Lee has also encountered situations where he felt he was unrightfully judged because he’s a boy.
“I have a group of female friends who were good at makeup and they assumed I wasn’t good at makeup because I’m male,” he added.
Freshman Angelica Macutay also shared a personal experience in which she felt excluded because she is female. She explains, “when I was in elementary school, my classmates would consider me a ‘tomboy’… When I’d hang out with my friends that were boys, they’d tell me not to do certain things because I was a girl. For instance, they preferred me not to use foul language because it isn’t lady like.”
Freshman Kristine Santos suggests that these double standards may have more influence in the United States than in other countries.
“When I was in the Philippines, us girls [could] do what boys [did]… I think girls are treated differently than boys [in America] because some people think boys can do better because they are smarter, athletic, and can do hard jobs like being a carpenter, [but] when people see girls being a carpenter it’s weird because it’s a boy’s thing,” she said. “But in the Philippines we are all treated equally. We can do boys’ things and it’s normal.”
Although the majority of teenagers interviewed stated that society’s standards are more strict for women, Jin opposes this conjecture.
She says that “all people are judged harshly” and asks why it is necessary to compare the two genders.
“Females and males have hard times, not one more than the other,” said Jin. “Why does it matter why we are being judged? People are wired to judge, regardless of the reason.”
Gender double standards is a very controversial topic, especially with adolescent teenagers. Some say that judging people based off their gender is a natural compulsion that we can’t prevent whereas others state that double standards are very prominent in our society that we have to diminish. Regardless of their opinions on this topic, people of all genders disapprove of gender double standards. They pressure people to live their lives while abiding by rules and guidelines that society has addressed to us according to our gender.
Unfortunately, double standards can’t be demolished overnight. They encourage a seemingly “normal” group of thoughts that have been embedded in our heads by society over decades. The best we can do to reduce the negativity is to be aware of these double standards and the toll they can take on our thoughts.