When entering the threshold to a new first grade class, children are greeted by a friendly smile and a point in the direction of the coat hangers. One then hangs her belongings and puts away her lunch. She makes her way around the room, subconsciously finding a seat closely connected to familiarity. Martha plops down next to Susan and soon they find themselves in an enchanted castle with delicate sugar plum fairies dancing through their imagination. David spies an intense situation and quickly includes his finger gun in the war being fought by Jimmy, Paul and Joe. The idea that all girls compose themselves in more close and exclusive friendships and boys interact through larger rough, physical groups feed the notion that “differences tend to be exaggerated and similarities ignored, with little integration of similarity and difference” (Thorne 155). Sexism begins at such an early age that it becomes hard for our society to transgress, and in result negative stereotypes are formed. Negative female stereotypes are still prevalent in today’s society leaving a lingering sensation that the male is the dominant sex. This idea is represented in many ways throughout society, and mainly parade through the subconscious thoughts men perceive about women and their activities.
Stereotypical views begin to become extreme and farfetched when they are organized from an opposite sex. A man does not refer to all men as womanizers and a woman does not refer to all women as vain; however, both ideas are somehow prevalent throughout the minds of many. How does this happen? Well, for example, in a late 1400s painting (figure A) of a naked woman titled Vanity, it is clear the artist, Memling, portrayed all women to be vain. He portrayed this idea by painting a woman holding a mirror showing a clear admiration of her beauty with her hand placed ever so thoughtfully on her hip. The mirror was often used as a symbol of the vanity of women. The moralizing, however, was mostly hypocritical. You, Memling, painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure. The idea that all women are vain is now supported by a painting that a man created. Women now are obligated to prove the idea that beauty is not connected to brains and visa versa. Men, however, are in obvious dominance because a woman who is vain and self absorbed is worried about the seemingly less important things in life while the man takes care of the “main concerns” (Thorne 155). This brings about complications because females now have to attempt to transpose the set notions of stereotypical views placed upon them by the opinions of men.