Throughout history, there has been a concept forced onto all of us that tries to restrict the way we live. It’s what keeps little boys from playing with dollhouses and suggests that women are simply meant to be quiet creatures.

Of course, gender roles have existed for centuries due to years of oppression against women, but they’re still very real today. It’s clear that almost everyone – not just women – feel the pressure to fit into the ideal model of their gender.

For those who are out of the loop, ‘gender roles’ are the constructs that attempt to govern how people live based on the idealized version of their gender in society. They say that women are expected work at home and take care of kids, men should be aggressive and emotionally dead, and that’s ‘just how things are.’

“These restrictions cause a less inclusive society, where people feel like they can’t be themselves,” says a freshman student.

This issue has been proven to cause lowered self-esteem in particularly young people of all genders. Students in school feel a pressure to be involved in one thing or another, such as classes, sports and extracurriculars that they feel are more expected of them.

“Girls can play football,” says the same freshman. “Girls can be assertive and have opinions. Boys can be cheerleaders. Boys can cry. They can shave their legs or do whatever makes them comfortable. No one should feel like they have to fit into a mold. Stereotypes shouldn’t restrict someone from being comfortable with themselves.”

Toxic masculinity is a constant reminder that confidence issues are just as prominent with men as they are with anyone. Statistics show that men are typically less likely to seek help for mental health issues and tend to feel pressured into disrespectful behavior. It should also be understood that it’s okay to hug your friends without saying “no homo” afterwards.

Considering statistics, such as four in ten victims of domestic abuse being male, it’s clear that men can struggle in similar ways that women do. Most men do not report instances of abuse and assault due to the lack of reaction it receives. Men are pushed to always act aggressive in most circumstances, causing them to hesitate to admit any kind of weakness.

On a more general note, gender seems to play an unusually important part in today’s society. From women in government to stay-at-home dads, everything is reacted to like it’s a controversy. People seem to be seen as their gender before anything else, which obviously, not everyone would want.

“I think people are people,” says English teacher Ms. Webb, “not a gender.”

There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be a stay-at-home parent, or a man wanting to be a successful businessperson, or anyone wanting to pursue any positive future, but this shouldn’t be such an enforced system shoving people into boxes. All genders should have a freedom over their bodies, interests and ambitions. These are not things that are dictated by gender.