I’ve been meaning to get to work on another blog post for a few days now. I have a growing list of topics that I’d like to discuss, and yet nothing was really “speaking” to me…. and then I saw an ad on Facebook (yes, again) that got me thinking. It was a Swiffer ad that said something along the lines of “Is that a mirage, or is a man really doing housework?”
Ok. I’m going to try to keep my cool… but this INFURIATES me. I just don’t get it. If there was an ad that said something like “I must be dreaming because I think that I just saw a woman fixing a car” or “…saving money” or “…playing sports” or whatever other stupid stereotype there is, we would be enraged! There would be an uproar! Women across the country would be staging protests and boycotting all Swiffer products. Yet, this is ok? (This is the same argument that I had against the movie “Magic Mike,” but I don’t feel the need to get into that right now).
When did it become acceptable to beat up on men in our society? Now, don’t get me wrong – I absolutely understand the struggles that we women have had, and continue to have. I feel them myself on a pretty regular basis. That’s not what this is about (so please don’t attack me for being anti-feminist! If you know me at all you know that simply ain’t true!). What this is about is the absolute denigration of men that goes on in our society. What is the deal here?
It seems to me that everywhere I turn there is another portrayal of a man being, well, a useless “doofus.” Gone are the days of the image of “mister macho” (which was pretty awful as well) and now we have this completely useless, inept “shmo” all over the place. Think of all the images of women rolling their eyes at their helpless men, and just doing things for them. Men, we are being told to believe, have very little to contribute. You know the type I’m talking about – the man who can’t figure out how to cook a meal for his child, the man who can’t grocery shop without 20 texts from his wife, the man who breaks every dish when trying to wash them, etc. etc. etc. They are neither our emotional nor intellectual equals, and we think that’s just so “cute.” ”Tee hee. Look at my silly little doofus man… aren’t I a lucky girl??”
I work with 12 year old boys every day. These boys are some of the sweetest, most insightful, sensitive, intelligent, and capable kids that I’ve ever met. They express themselves beautifully, are curious about the world around them, and care about other people. They are also voracious consumers of media. I often see articles written about what we want our young girls to know about themselves in order to ward off the evils of media portrayal of women, and those articles are GREAT. Where, though, are the similar articles for our boys? The boys I teach are not doofuses, but I worry that they will become them. I am scared that they will begin to believe that they are worthless, useless shlubs – just like the men they see on TV and in ads.
So the question then becomes, what is a “real” man? It’s not the doofus, it’s not the macho man. It’s not any of the stereotypes we see (duh!). I am lucky enough to consider 3 men among the elite group of my “best” friends. I always thought that I was just lucky to have found the exceptions… they are thoughtful, emotionally aware, skillful, talented, passionate, and caring men. They take care of themselves and take care of their families. They have interesting hobbies, fulfilling careers, and can, believe it or not, actually hold down a thought provoking conversation, be vulnerable, and offer support. It turns out that, while I am incredibly lucky to know them, they are not the exception. They are the rule. This is what men are (or at least can be when we let them!) Yes – there are some men on TV who show this side (Matt Lauer, Jon Stewart, and a number of others), yet we often think of THEM as the exception as well. It makes me very sad to think that we simply don’t expect such goodness from our men. We should – they really do have it in them!
So no, I don’t always understand men – probably never will… and yes, there are ways in which men think that I find absolutely infuriating… that’s just how it is. Men and women are different – we all know that, but “different” doesn’t always have to mean “better” or “worse.” A professor of mine used to tell us to sing “like men!” (yes, even the women). It took me a while to figure out what he meant, but I realize now that he wasn’t saying to be loud, or sing low, or anything like that. What he meant was to sing with integrity. Sing with passion. Sing with a high level of understanding. That’s what it means to be “like men” – have integrity, passion, and understanding. Let’s show this to our boys, and let’s expect it from our men. We all deserve at least that much.
May you be filled with light and love.