In 2017, people find it difficult to express themselves. The common term ‘think before you speak’ has never been more relevant. Generations above us had no difficulty with saying what they think, and to be fair still don’t to this day. However, society nowadays will always find a flaw with something you have to say, whether that be about gender or sexuality.
The battle that homosexual individuals continue to face has been challenging. Before 2003, section 28 was a law that meant it was illegal for teachers to talk positively or support homosexuality in schools. It was believed that children may be influenced by this and only recently in 2014, Scotland passed legislation allowing same sex marriage. To many, this came as a no brainer, as equality is the best for everyone. However, older generations and some religions perceived this decision as wrong. Understandably older generations may find it difficult to come to terms with extreme changes in society and therefore find it harder to accept new things. Yet I believe that this may change how we act towards homosexuals; no matter how we feel. Sometimes in public you are more cautious about who you are with as you worry about who may be judging you. I can personally say that when with my gay friend, I feel a bit more vulnerable to what others are thinking of me. Although I know this is wrong, it’s an instant reaction, as I think about comments I have heard on television and from older people surrounding me. It doesn’t change how I feel towards gay people, but how I feel about myself and surroundings, which I know needs to change.
On the other hand, is different religion’s perceptions on same sex relationships in modern times. One Christian couple for example, wouldn’t allow a gay couple to stay in their B&B, as it went against their beliefs. I understand and sympathise that they wish to stick to their beliefs and think it’s right for them to do so. Yet, our society is continuously changing and it is difficult to discriminate nowadays to things such as same sex relationships, as the law states that it’s a right these people have. Christianity is also a religion that tells you to love everyone, and in 2016 Pope Francis stated that Christians should apologise to gay people. This comes after the increase of gay people committing to Christianity as their main faith, highlighting that even religions need to adapt with societal changes.
A further controversial issue in the UK is gender equality. The generic idea is that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. However, many young boys want to dress up as princesses and more girls are wanting to become scientists and engineers. This has led to companies such as John Lewis creating gender fluid clothes. Yet there have been many complaints about this, asking questions like – why do we need gender fluid clothes when there are boy’s and girl’s clothes available for the child’s particular gender? This is an example of how parents and society influence a child’s upbringing and decisions in life. One example of this is a young boy who wished to get a butterfly painted on his face, however his dad disagreed with this and made him get a more ‘boyish’ design of a monster. This emphasises that some parents influence their children to be more masculine which may be because it’s their perception of how a boy should be or because they don’t want their child to be judged by other parents.
One BBC documentary highlighted that maybe gender stigmas are ingrained in us, influencing our decisions without our knowledge. One task showed boys dressing in girl’s clothes and girls dressing in boy’s clothes and then taken to play with someone they had never met. The floor surrounding them was covered in toys but showed the adults reaching for teddies and princesses for the girls and robots and cars for the boys. The presenter of the documentary confronted the adults about their choice of toys and made them aware of the gender swap. They felt guilty about their choice of toys and not being aware of why they made their choices. Many toys and clothes do try to determine what path a child may lead with slogans. For example, Clarks shoe shop had their girl’s shoes being called ‘Dolly Babe’ and the boy’s as ‘Leader’. This can influence how many girls at primary school age perceive themselves or have the confidence to speak up in class. The term ‘leader’ also gives the idea that boys are more superior and can achieve anything, compared to the undermining term ‘Dolly Babe’. Small factors like these terms also links to the limited number of females in professions such as engineering, as this is believed to be a man’s profession, such like teaching is commonly known as a female profession.
To conclude, society is continuously changing and so are our ideas. Homosexuality is now a right and something that no one should be ashamed of. However, it is still difficult to achieve complete acceptance of this. Many people in older generations still find it difficult to adapt to the changes that the 21st century bring and this is clear with our beliefs with genders also. Many parents are guilty of feeling judged if their children act against their gender norms and therefore children can be influenced to be ‘girly’ or ‘masculine’ without being aware.