The term, a single story, is described by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a narrative that is endlessly repeated about someone, only revealing one truth about him or her. The danger with this is not that it is untrue, but it is an incomplete story about a person. It is the only story told about someone.
An example that is often presented about women is the single story of their development and gender. The single story that establishes how women are perceived today; in the sense that they are objectified (FutureLearn). The media represents women as possessions of men.
Because we are so often referred in context to men, people see us as codependent and give people the idea that relying on men is a need and not a want. This is why women are often titled as “mother, wife, daughter, sister, etc…” (FutureLearn). This creates a culture that places a view on women – a view that women are helpless and unintelligent.
We are only seen as this negative stigma that we nurture, cook, or clean in the family and domestic sphere. It creates an untrue gender stereotype that affects the enjoyment of human rights and can dictate the expectations that are placed on boys and girls.
The importance of knowing that this is a common stereotype in the world is essential in all aspects of life. People must know the importance of relationships in the workplace, at home, and in school. The model of empathy introduced by researcher Norma Feshbach and Shari Kuchenbecker show the three abilities one should show for a successful relationship: the ability to distinguish and label the feeling of others; the ability to take on others’ perspectives; and lastly the ability for emotional capacity and resources (Hamilton).
All three of these abilities ultimately deal with people’s capability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and try to comprehend what they must be feeling. In order for the single story presented above to be broken, men need to realize what women go through with these stereotypes – the stereotypes that girls should not work in certain fields, or play certain sports for example.
Gender stereotypes and norms are so ingrained into our society that people do not know how to deal with it, but with the right usage of empathy, the opportunities could greatly improve between a man and a woman.
FutureLearn. (n.d.). Single stories – Gender and Development. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/gender-and-development/0/steps/33015
Hamilton, L., Mood Boost Monday: #GoodbyeHeadClutcher No Comments | May 11, & Name:*. (2015, July 01). The Importance of Empathy in Relationships. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://inpathybulletin.com/the-importance-of-empathy-in-relationships/