Stereotypical gender roles dictate what a man is supposed to be and what behaviors he is supposed to enact. It tells us he needs to be a particular kind of masculine and he has to avoid particular kinds of traits, behaviors, appearances that might be construed as feminine.
Stereotypical gender roles dictate what a woman is supposed to be and what behaviors she is supposed to enact. It tells us she needs to be a particular kind of feminine and she has to avoid particular kinds of traits, behaviors, appearances that might be construed as masculine.
Have you ever heard a woman described as stoic, or the strong silent type? Men are praised for these qualities even when women aren’t. Should these qualities even be praised? Obviously gender roles are real stupid and they hurt both men and women, as well as people who don’t identify with either side of the binary. There shouldn’t be sets of rules and expectations for how we should feel. No one should be expected to be happy or nurturing all the time, nor should they be expected to be unemotional all the time.
Feelings are largely beyond our control. When someone yells at us, we feel. When someone gives us a compliment, we feel. While that feeling may differ from person to person, the same truth for us all is that we have little power over our feelings. Any and all external expectations dictating how one should feel only leads to further feelings of self loathing and frustration. This shouldn’t be determined by a gender that we identify with, anymore than it should be determined by the colour of our hair.
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In this week’s issue we’ve got Finn Teppett, whose feature “Why You Can’t Kiss Your Mates (spoiler: it’s because of rugby)” looks into the the strangely cold and emotionless nature of male friendship in New Zealand.
We’ve also got Laura Toailoa sharing her story of the realisation that she needed to acknowledge the impact her feelings and mental well-being have on her day to day life. A story that will resonate with so many students who have learnt to prioritise education and academic success over feelings and mental well-being.
And we’ve got Faith Wilson who asks who has the privilege to feel things? and considers the way we allow feelings to be felt and by whom.
We want you to feel things while you read this issue, but we also want you to think about feelings—to think about the ways you get to feel things and others might not.
Feelings are incredibly fleeting as well as familiar like the sensations you know so well: the churning of your stomach to the twitching of your eye. Feelings never really occur independently, instead they’re our experiential thread. They’re bound to everything we do and everything that we are.
It’s so easy to get bound up and frustrated about what you’re feeling, about your fundamental reactions to things, but it’s so pointless. Feelings need space—let them live and acknowledge them. Be kind to your feelings.
Emma & Jayne xoxo