My quick answer is “gradually”!
Everything in this world is gradual and unless we each make a start (by telling men where they are going wrong), we can’t hope to make the world a better place for our daughters and nieces. Just as our mothers and grandmothers battled sexism to give girls like me (I’m 30 this year) the chance to have at least a certain amount of equality.
But we should never be complacent!
Yes, we have legal and ethical rights which our foremothers wouldn’t have dreamed of, but we’re still seen – in so many ways – as the ‘second sex’, the gender which gives love and support TO the ‘first sex’ rather than actually doing the things ourselves!
Even many men might say that being loving and supportive is as important as being loved and supported. So why are they so unlikely to want to switch roles? Why don’t they love and support us while we climb mountains or score goals for England’s premier football teams?
I suppose because they wouldn’t consider either to be ‘woman’s work’?
So the male stereotypes of women’s work are cooking, cleaning, and looking after ‘their’ children? Well perhaps not JUST that anymore. But that’s the point. 80 years ago women wouldn’t have been ‘allowed’ out to work; 40 years ago it wouldn’t have been usual for women to work after having a child; today – well at least many of us have the choice.
PERHAPS in another 40 years it’ll become as usual for men to give up work to look after ‘our’ children as it was once for us to stay at home.
(Of course that brings in a separate issue – that of whether we’d WANT men looking after our chidren! I personally can’t imagine ‘allowing’ a man to raise my daughter. But, as I said, that’s a separate issue.)
However, my example I hope suggests that if we keep fighting male preconceptions, we’ll continue to get somewhere.
And we should continue to be positive. If a man criticises my driving, I think “he’s jealous”, if a man says – or infers – that something I’ve done is good ‘for a woman’, I KNOW he’s jealous.
Now I come to a more difficult strand of the subject: do stereotypes exist because they are – to whatever extent – true?
Are we simple-minded, fluffy-headed, blond bimbos with more interest in our weight and appearance than in politics and the stock market?
Well, I’m not blond!
But seriously, of course we are to a degree – just as men are beer-swilling, girl-chasing hunks with more interest in their dicks, their cars, and in the football results than in other people.
Based on that, my long answer to the question is that we need to persuade men – and, sisters, we can do it gradually – that we’re not all like that! We’re as varied in interests, feelings (and intelligence) as they’d like to think they are.
AND that female values (or stereotypes) are not bad. Being interested in other people, our homes, our children, our weight AS WELL as the million other things in this world is GOOD.
One day men will be interested in all of those things too.