The situation: A three year old little girl claims she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, but her brothers, the oldest of them 11 years old, try to correct the young girl and tell her she wants to be a nurse when she grows up. What causes these children to form these gender role opinions? I believe the main evil influencing young children to shape their gender expectations is our society.
Imagine being a young child…I’m talking before kindergarten here. What did you want to be? What did you enjoy doing? Were there any obstacles to achieving your dreams? If you were anything like myself, then you understand what I’m talking about. Children change what they want to be when they grow up daily, if not hourly. Their future is not motivated by money, status, politics, etc. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Now imagine yourself as a child attending grade school for a few years. Suddenly, you want your mom to buy the same pair of uggs that everyyyboddyy but you owns. You want to buy lunch at school because “all the cool kids do.” These two generic examples sum my point up quite nicely: as you become socialized, you lose an innate, no-boundaries mindset that allows you to dream infinitely and boast about your dreams, no matter how crazy they might sound to others, will come true one day.
We all possess this, what some refer to as “unreasonable” mindset as a young child, but where does it go as we begin to attend school and become part of society? I don’t think it goes anywhere. I believe society, primarily in education, sets limits and defines what is “acceptable.” Society on some levels can be compared to brainwashing. Society eventually limits our innate drive, creativity, imagination, and persistence we pride ourselves on as young children through phrases such as “That is not realistic” and “Only a limited number of people can achieve that” among others. The limited numbers of people are those who rise above society’s death grip on their dreams and revert to their limitless childhood mindset. Those are the people who we ponder “They must be pretty special” or “I wish I was that lucky…” The fact is, luck has nothing to do with it. These “special” people refuse to accept defeat, ignore the haters, and set out to do whatever they could possibly imagine despite what anyone says.
Can you imagine a world where everyone truly believed their options were limitless? Where everything one imagined would become reality? Where the only expectation is that there are no expectations? I believe if people learn to ignore society’s judgments (who gives them the right anyway?) many more people would lead a successful life.
Particularly in the United States, society centers on individualism beginning in education. As a teacher passes a test back, you instantly turn to your neighbor and ask, “What did you get??” You obsess over looking and acting like the “cool kids” instead of finding your passion and what that one thing you enjoy doing that really makes you happy. This individual-obsessed mindset eventually develops into the money-obsessed, status-obsessed adults we eventually grow into, whether we want to admit it or not.
I think it is an amazing thing for a young three year old girl to boast she wants to become a doctor. The idea of telling her she should become a nurse is irrelevant to gender roles. Society frowns upon any idea that does not meet its norms and “brainwashes” school children of its biases, in this case gender bias. I believe it is highly important to snap out of society’s hold and become aware of how much we say to ourselves or aloud “That is impossible” or “There is no way I could do that.” When we become aware of the influence society has created over us without even realizing it, even its unconscious hold, I hope many realize how wonderful the young girl is to still have a limitless imagination and truly endless dreams before her and that it must be preserved regardless of society’s attempt at conformity.