The expectations of womanhood: there are a lot

Gender expectations greet us all at birth, and stay with us for life. 

For women, failing to fulfill these expectations can be seen as lacking in femininity in society’s eyes. 

To highlight stereotypes and address society’s issues, representatives from theWomen’s Center spoke Thursday on the expectations of being a woman. 

“Girls play with Barbie dolls, boys plays with fire trucks, and at first you don’t think it’s a big deal, but if it’s something that happens for a lifetime, since birth, you start creating these roles for yourself without thinking about it,” said Mai Ker Thao, graduate assistant at the center for its violence awareness and response program.

Since as long as history books say, children have been bred to satisfy their gendered duties. For young girls, this looked like dedicating their lives toward attracting a future husband, and spending the rest of their lives catering to them. 

For centuries, women have battled for rights and created a new life for the women alive today, but the expectations are still evident. 

“I feel like women don’t get taught to live for themselves,” Thao said. “I feel like they often get taught to act a certain way so you attract this person, act this way so people can admire you for being a good wife, being a good mother. Why can’t I act this way so that I can love myself, and so that people can love me for me?”

This problem quickly becomes more serious when the topic of sexual assault comes into play. On a college campus, where the risks are high, women are encouraged to undergo prevention training, and educate themselves on their own prevention once alcohol consumption is factored in. 

“It’s emphasizing that if a woman does all this, if they bring a buddy with them, if they watch their drinks, and they still get sexually assaulted, then that’s their fault,” Thao said. 

Regardless of women’s efforts, sexual assault numbers are not decreasing. 

“I feel like on college campuses, we always want to make sure that women have the resources they need, and women have the provisions that they need, but why don’t we talk about the root of the problem?” Thao said. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and validating women that sexual assault is the fault of the perpetrator, not the victim’s, is a heightened value for the Women’s Center. 

Faculty plans on keeping this month-long theme going with their event, “Take Back the Night,” April 25 5-7 p.m. in Ostrander Auditorium. 

“The purpose of the event is to show support for victims and survivors of sexual assault,” Thao said. We’ll have advocates there, and then we’ll have some organizations talk about the importance of culturally specific resources, and then we’ll end the night with a march to show our support for victims and survivors of sexual assault.” 

Header Photo: The Women’s Center is the home to all of the Brave Hearts discussions held on campus. (Joey Erickson/The Reporter)

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

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