Chew Yann, an intern at WCC and Corporate Communication student writes about this week’s topic from her own experience.
Before that, let’s talk about the word “girl”. Girl is the gender while female is the sex. It is common for people to be confused over sex and gender. Sex is referred to biological sexual organs which are the anatomy of male and female. Biological sex is used to describe our internal and external sex organs, chromosomes and hormones. Gender is the roles that society prescribed to girls and boys, women and men. Society prescribed that men should be more aggressive, and be doctors or lawyers while women should be soft and gentle, and be housewives or mothers.
I started to realise that I am a girl during a workshop that was held in my primary school. It was a workshop for girls only and it taught us how to differentiate girls and boys’ physical characteristics, and roles of a girl, for example what a girl should and shouldn’t do.
Gender stereotype is common in today’s society. Gender stereotype happen when people automatically apply gender assumptions to others without any evidences. Society recognises the danger of stereotyping, yet still continues with it. For example, society assumes that women should get marry and have children while men should be the one that earn money for the family.
Family, school, friends, law and religious institutions are the bodies that perpetuate stereotypes. They do that to influence society. Men want to gain control and power over women and want women to be obedient to them. This is also related to the conservative tradition in the society as people were told to act as prescribed by their family since young. They did not realize that it was a stereotype when they taught the young people.
Good girl is the stereotype of how the society expects a girl should be. When a girl looks and acts in the way society imposed, she is a good girl. Society assumes that good girls can be smart but never argue, a follower but never a leader, and always fitting in a crowd.
I had experienced this during my secondary school. I was a girl who was straightforward but I did not show it in front of my friends. My friends assumed that I was a good girl as I often acted in the way they expect. I was quiet and a follower when mixing around with them. A few years after graduated, we held a gathering. By that time, I had changed my behaviour. I dared to voice out my opinion and I acted and looked differently from the past. For example, I drank and laugh loudly with them. I realised that it made them upset and thought that I was a bad girl due to my changes.
One of the good girl stereotype is that she can be smart but she should never argue. Good girl can be smart and have clear goals for herself, and also try her hardest to achieve good academic result. Good girl will set her goals clearly, for instance, the targeted grade which she wanted to achieve in each subject. She can be smart but she shouldn’t argue with others. She will agree with others’ as she does not wish to create conflict with her friends. This stereotype does not apply to me. Although I set a clear goal for myself, I will also voice out my opinions or ideas to others. It does not mean that I want to create conflict because I know that I have the freedom to express my thoughts.
Another stereotype of good girl is she is a follower but never a leader. She should be good at organizing and look at her own strengths and weaknesses. She will pay more attention on her grade and works within her ability. However, she only follows instructions when doing her job. Although she sets a clear goal for herself, she doesn’t have opinions when she joins a discussion. I am not good in organizing and I will only be a follower in a group for a short period, but this cannot conclude that I am a bad girl without understanding me further as I believe girls can be leaders too.
Also, a good girl always fits in a crowd. She always acts in the way that people like. She is quiet in the group as she often follows majority and rarely have her own opinion. I definitely don’t match with this statement as I am a noisy girl when I with my friends. I don’t fit in very well but no one should assume that I am a bad girl because I did not do anything that harms society.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter if you are a good girl or a bad girl, the most important thing is you stay true to yourself. It is the only way for others to get to know you. If you always try to fit in with the stereotype, it is hard for you to remain true to who you are. As for me, I don’t care about what other people think. People can stereotype me however they want based on their perception but I would not care as long as I am happy to be myself.