Gender stereotypes seem like they’re fixed in time, but that’s not true. In fact, some stereotypes have actually completely flipped over the years. Here are just a few stereotypes that used to be for one gender, but then somehow became associated with the other.
1) Cheerleading used to be seen a manly sport.
Today, we associate cheerleaders with girls. While there are still male cheerleaders, it’s by and large a sport dominated by women. That wasn’t always the case, however.
Cheerleading originated in the 19th century and was solely for men. They would engage in acrobatics, lead cheers, and were seen as a vital part of the game. During World War II, when men were called to fight, women took on the cheerleading duties and never looked back.
2) Pink used to be boys while blue was used for girls.
Many parents are turning to gender-neutral colors instead of picking pink for their girls or blue for their boys. This is interesting because those colors weren’t always associated with the genders as we know them.
Since pink is derived from red, it used to be viewed as a very masculine, very strong color for boys. Blue was considered to be softer and more delicate, therefore it came to be known as a color for girls. It really wasn’t until the 1980s that the colors flipped in their gender roles.
3) In the 19th century, dresses were for boys or girls.
If you look at pictures of Victorian children, it’s hard to know if you’re looking at a picture of a boy or a girl. That’s because both wore dresses. This was a practical concern (it made changing diapers easier and it could be passed down from one child to the next regardless of gender) but it was also to keep children “sexless” until they were a bit older. Boys in that time didn’t actually begin wearing pants until around age eight.
It wasn’t until the 1920s when new fabrics emerged and textiles became cheaper, that parents began putting little boys in pants. Now, most parents wouldn’t consider putting a little boy in a dress.
4) Knitting used to be a male-dominated field.
In the Middle Ages, knitting was a trade that was typically practiced by men. There were knitting guilds that protected trade secrets and ensured that the field remained profitable for businesses. It was like this until the Industrial Revolution.
When factories emerged that boosted textile production, the demand for skilled knitters completely dropped. That’s when it became a parlor hobby for women to engage in during their free time.
5) Women used to dominate the beer brewing industry.
Beer is seen as a very manly drink today. Throughout the history of brewing, however, women were the ones who actually brewed the beer. That’s because the men were out hunting while women were gathering. Beer was actually the drink of choice throughout history because safe drinking water was hard to find. With beer, people could drink without fear of getting dysentery, which was often fatal.
The role changed in the Middle Ages when brewing became a field dominated by monks who brewed beer in large quantities. That gender role persists to this day, with men dominating the craft beer industry.