Every Sunday evening on Italian TV, a female comic, Luciana Littizzetto, makes fun of men and repeats incredibly funny and ridiculous stereotypes. She mocks men as being incapable, hopeless at domestic tasks and in bed as well as being hypochondriacs. What is more, she gets away with it and has done so for several years. She also mocks ridiculous TV commercials, politicians and anything else that she finds absurd. The only thing is that her male stereotypes are repeated again and again. Imagine a male comedian spouting stereotypes about women. I doubt if he would get out of the TV studio alive!
What is the problem with stereotypes of men or women? They are usually simplistic, untrue and are based on certain assumptions we make which are shakily based on gender. They assume that men and women will behave according to the gender role. They forget one key fact which is that each person is an individual. These stereotypes are “sweeping generalizations” as my father used to say. He was right.
Now that gender differences are less rigid and women start to gain equality, isn’t it time to abandon some common stereotypes about men and lay them to rest for good? Here are the top 7 that I want dead and buried!
1. Men don’t cry
Unfortunately, when a man cries, it is still regarded as a weakness. But this is changing and a caring man is not so rare nowadays, thank goodness. A man who can deal with emotions is not weak. He is simply mature and is not a robot. He is in touch with his feelings, emotions and will ask himself whether he is a caring partner, friend and parent.
“Boys don’t cry, but men do.”- Malorie Blackman, Boys Don’t Cry
2. Men never notice how women look
It would seem that men never notice when a woman gets her hair done. The truth is though that many men really do notice and that they will get real pleasure in telling their partner how great she looks. But split ends and botox injections might go unnoticed. I love the joke,
Husband: “Honey, you seem strangely unmoved by the fact that the dog just ate a carving knife.”
Wife: “I’m furrowing my brow with concern… on the inside.”
3. Men are aggressive
If the stereotypes are right, they are likely to follow the trend and abuse their partners emotionally and physically. After all, that fits in with the myth that they are demanding, hard and physically strong. Wife batterers often justify their actions by saying, “she wouldn’t stop nagging me,” another stereotype, according to one research study on why men abuse women, published in the Harvard University Gazette. Fortunately, there are millions of loving, caring men who never need to resort to bullying and violent behavior.
4. Men don’t do housework
How many men still feel that housework is beneath them because that is women’s work? Start counting in billions and trillions. The stats here are pretty damning in that 83% of women compared to 65% of men are actively doing all the household chores. But look at the 2010 figures on how many women are breadwinners – 60%!
Now look at all the stay at home dads who are doing an awful lot of housework and child minding. Latest figures show that the number of househusbands has doubled since the 1970s and is now estimated at 550,000. Some things do change, albeit slowly. Stay-at-home dads are the pioneers of gender equality and Anne Marie Slaughter’s husband, Andrew Moravcsik, has written convincingly about this in the article, Why I Put My Wife’s Career First
“A female executive needs what male CEOs have always had: a spouse who bears the burden at home.” – Andrew Moravcsik
5. Men decide and tell women what to do
“You’re a man. Whoever the woman is, it’s their responsibility to listen to what you say.”- Quote from MenEngage.org
This is so widespread that the MenEngage.org have joined forces with over 600 organizations worldwide to enlist the help of men and boys because this is the key to equality. Watch the video here about what male stereotypes are still floating around. Long way to go.
6. Men don’t do girlie things with their daughters
Dads will play soccer with their boys and will not be bothered with playing with their daughters. Playing and bonding with kids should not be based on rigid gender lines. It is reinforcing gender stereotypes from a very early age.
Nathan is a single dad who lost his wife to cancer last year. He has decided that one of the best ways to bond with his daughter is to let her paint his nails and also help his daughter with hers. Watch the touching video here of a great dad who is not afraid of stereotypes and is perfectly happy to go against the tide. An awesome dad teaching his daughter a wonderful life lesson.
7. Men love sports
I hated school sports and spent many an hour inventing excuses to escape or praying for heavy rain. But I still grew up to be a balanced and happy person. It is comforting to know that there are men who are not so addicted to sports as society would have us believe. They can gainfully use their time doing things they are really keen on, such as writing. Milton James, the Man Booker winner for 2015 has remarked:
“I was the nerd. Because I was reading. I wasn’t into sports. I was really into art. Very geekish about comics. Assumed gay.”- Marlon James,
He was bullied of course because he did not fit into the male stereotype. In order to cope with that he started to read more and more and write.
“I’m tired of stories that use race to define someone’s character—that help brew suspicion, contempt, and anger among people. How long is it going to take for all stories to be told without a color bias? In the end, aren’t we just human beings under the same skies?”- Shalita Grant
Just substitute the words ‘race’ and ‘color’ with anything like ‘age’, ‘sex’, ‘men’, ‘women’, and you will see that we still have a long way to go!
Featured photo credit: Househusbands on the morning jog/Matthew Rutledge via flickr.com