The only way to stop gender stereotyping and discrimination is to stop separating men and women. When we group them by genders, we make separate factors of them: Men and Women, Women vs. Men. If we dispose of these grouping terms, we will have to see/judge/define them by other, more accurate factors: themselves.
Being Female or Male is a physical factor. You come with (or choose) a certain set of parts. That’s it. Sure there are things we commonly associate moreso with individuals who are one gender or the other. However, we choose to associate them based not on fact but on ‘common sense’. Common sense has failed us. When we rely on our common sense in our judgement of a person based on their assumed factors, we fail to learn who they are directly from them.
Why do we do it? Because it’s easy. The ideas and vocabulary are ingrained in our brains.
What can we do about it?
Honestly, I feel the only way to push beyond is to remove all physically separating characteristics. Stop separating by gender in schools and sports. Remove the ideas of gender specific clothing, toys, colors, etc. Children should have equal access to all options so they can make decisions about their favorites without outside influence. Starting early is important because it is exactly what we do now. We separate into pink and blue, dolls and trucks. Let them have both and more. What they choose should not then define them. It does not make them more male or female – their body parts do that.
I recommended sports too – many would argue with this. No more “The marathon winner in the Men’s Category is… and the winner of the Women’s Category is… ” “Women/Girls would never win, then,” some would argue, “because Men are biologically (fill in the blank: bigger, stronger, taller, etc).” Hmm. Females and Males are physically different. Does this mean that one has a physical advantage/disadvantage? In my mind, it doesn’t matter. If we kill off the separation, the ability to define based on a set of ‘parts’ then “Men” won’t win more than “Women”. Rather Tim or John or Maria or Emily might beat Sharon or Ralph to the finishline. End gender separation and we can focus on comparing human to human rather than pitting genders against one another.
Even so, gender equality won’t happen overnight. Even it all the above were taken on with full confidence of creating change, no one alive today would see a world where individuals were seen without their gender taken into account. It cannot exist while we, with subtle, ingrained stereotypes still live. Gender stereotypes we’ve had our whole lives to build up won’t just disappear. They will die with us. However, if we push for greater equality in our lives and our children do the same in theirs, the emphasis on gender will decrease until it -someday in a future world- disappears.