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Sexist tropes: The one where hobbies are gendered

The assignment of some activities to certain genders starts early. Female children are adorned in all pink everything and male children in blue. Boys get toys like balls for a variety of sports, cars, guns; girls get dolls, faux makeup and cooking equipment. This subtle programming has an impact on people all their lives. Some people never question these things, seeing their normalcy as justification. Certain things are for boys, and certain things are for girls. 

One would expect to only hear such dogma on a primary school playground, but, unfortunately, due to the power of socialisation, adults still hold on to the silly belief that certain activities and interests are gendered. 

As a woman who watches anime, I have experienced firsthand the marvel that is gatekeeping. Women have to complete an obstacle course of several hurdles to prove themselves worthy of enjoying things that are mostly enjoyed by men. Women who like sports or other “manly” entertainment are expected to prove that they are indeed true fans, not just pretending. “You like football? Okay, name every team.” Likewise, men who are interested in things considered to be for women are shamed; ostracism, homophobic comments and sexist slurs.

Things that women predominantly enjoy are considered silly and are trivialised. When we were younger, there was the phase where we turned our noses up at “girly” things because that’s what everyone else did. The colour pink was icky, skirts were ew and many of us struggled to harness our inner tomboy. None of these things (pink, skirts etc) is inherently related to women neither are we predisposed to them, their association with “femaleness” is entirely sociological. Still, the significance of the scorn for these things is of note. It starts when girls are disallowed from playing in the same way their male counterparts do. When the adults around start to ring it in our ears that “you can’t do that, you’re a girl”. “Sit still, look pretty; cross your legs, distrust other girls, don’t play with boys, is that how you’ll behave in your husband’s house?” While boys their age are allowed to simply be. 

As we grow older, niched interests like K-dramas, soaps, reality shows and other such things are seen as follies and when women are invested in them, it’s grounds for mockery. It’s perfectly normal for grown men to throw tantrums and have other extreme emotional reactions to sports though, even to the extent of violent outbursts. 

When men find women they deem worthy of sharing their interests, those women are the chosen ones, worthy of being placed on a pedestal (which is mostly just common decency and “omg you’re not like other women, you’re so cool”). That is unless you displease them. Express an opinion they don’t like about their fave thing/person and it’s “you don’t even understand it, you’re a woman”. 

Ultimately, let people enjoy things. If you find yourself getting irrationally angry (or even angry at all) at someone’s interests that do not concern or affect you or anyone else, ask yourself why you’re so hot and bothered, you may uncover some hidden layers of sexist biases and maybe even misogyny. 

Read Also: Sexist tropes: The one where “women are women’s worst enemies”

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