It starts from the moment you’re born. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Of course, a baby wouldn’t personally remember this stage in their life, but they are already being stereotyped based on their sex.
Later, when the child is old enough to play with toys, they will be directed to “girls’ toys” or “boys’ toys” without as much as a second thought. As a general rule, “girls’ toys”, again all in pink, consist of stereotypical gender roles such as cooking, cleaning and childcare, whilst “boys’ toys” are based around science, sport or the military. Before children even start school, they are told that boys and girls are different; that the opposite sex is a mysterious “other” that they shouldn’t be expected to understand.
Then, school begins, and the “battle of the sexes” commences. Where a game involves two teams, either the teacher or the pupils insist on “boys v girls”, even where the numbers are greatly uneven. When one gender wins, they get bragging rights until the next game. Also, I remember large groups of girls walking round the playground chanting “No boys allowed!” and vice-versa. Some teachers and schools use a “boy-girl-boy-girl” seating plan either as a punishment or to keep the class quiet. And that’s before we even get started on the mythical “cooties”, “boy germs” and “girl germs”. All of this teaches impressionable young children that the opposite sex is practically a different species, and they are expected to compete to “beat the boys/girls” to prove that their gender is better. (Better at what, exactly, is unknown.)
Is it any wonder, then, that once these children become adolescents and adults, they make sweeping generalisations about the opposite sex? When a heterosexual relationship ends, its participants blame the entire gender: “Men CAN’T be trusted!” “Women are SO manipulative!” etc. Products such as magazines are still separated into “Men’s Interest” and “Women’s Interest” Team games are still often carried out using “men v women”; this ranges from family board games to certain large-scale TV gameshows.
Enter Drumond Park’s “His & Hers”, a board game that claims to “celebrate our differences” and “what makes women women and men men.” THIS GAME ACTUALLY EXISTS. PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY BUYING IT. I can’t believe I still have to point out that the only thing that makes you a man or a woman is identifying as a man or a woman. Your interest (or lack of it) in sport, fashion, technology and fashion (or any of the other stereotypes “helpfully” provided in the game’s accompanying video) has nothing to do with it.
This, in my opinion, is a huge part of the misconceptions surrounding feminism. Feminists want equality, but in the world of “His & Hers”, a world obsessed with a “battle of the sexes”, a world where each must strive to be better than the other, equality is an alien concept. Therefore (no thanks to media bias), the general public assumes that feminists must want female superiority, they must only be female, they must hate men because in the “battle of the sexes”, there must be only one winner. And whatever the outcome, it can only hinder the struggle for gender equality.