The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The trouble with men.

And women. I mean, I often think about the female role in society first. Gee, I wonder why. And yet, feminism isn't just about women. Feminism is about equality for both genders. What got me thinking about it? A marketing article I read today, pointing out how "middle aged" men are portrayed and thought of in the media as useless, clueless, randy goofballs.

The guy's got a point.

Leave it to marketing to figure out how we tick. Sad that the underlying cause is to learn how to talk to us so we will buy things. (Read the Feminine Mystique for great examples of how many companies and magazines marketed to women in the 50's and 60's. Some of this is still around today. You looked at the magazines in the grocery store lately?)

Another thing pointed out in this article is how male identity is slipping. It talks more about the identity of the "middle aged" male, but I have seen and heard this from several of my guy friends (all around my age) over time as well. While women have been trying to break out of their traditional roles as domestics, and while both genders have been falling into the two income trap, men have been pushed off-center of their traditional "breadwinner" role into uncomfortable territory.

When it comes to gener roles, it's hard to puzzle out the "nature vs. nurture" argument. I have found that there is a strong undercurrent of "nature" that helps shape our respective gender identities, but I also find that society seems to amplify and exploit these natural tendencies to the extreme, making it difficult for us to find the "other" in ourselves. It is perfectly accepted and natural for women to reach out to each other, be in touch with their bodies and how they are feeling, and seek to understand their emotions. We are practically expected to do this, to know ourselves and others. How many guys out there are actually in touch with themselves? How many simply use their job/career to supplement their entire identity? How many more have not found identity in work, and instead sulk quietly in front of their computers and televisions and video games, cocooning themselves in an infantile fantasy world? (Yeah yeah, video games are great and all, but come on. Sometimes you can really have too much of a good thing.)

Not that most guys have as much of an inclination to be all "touchy feely." But just because they express their emotions differently doesn't mean that they aren't there. The evil mechanisms that churn beneath society are still in place. Women are now expected to be spiritual, emotional, self-analytical creatures (a la Oprah), and men? No one seems to have figured that out yet. They can't be "girly", they would lose their status as men. But they aren't as needed for their traditional responsibilities in society. What's a boy to do?

Another thing I can't stand are guys who completely downplay their gender. "Oh, women are great! Men are dogs. Men are pigs. Men are scum." Dude, WTF??? Michael Moore of all people proselytized this in his book Stupid White Men. (At least, I think it was that one. It was either that one or Downsize This.) Guys like that worry me. Men are just as valid and important members of society. But this debate will rage on for a while. We're fighting on both fronts here, those who don't know who they are vs. those who think everyone should be someone else. Those who hate the opposite gender vs. those who hate their own.

It gets so convoluted sometimes. Why can't we all just be ourselves?


  • At 10:20 AM, Blogger zanshin said…

    Yeah, I've been wondering the same thing. With the advent of gender equality, I wonder about the role of men in society. Sometimes it seems as though gender behaviour is being polarized to extremes, with anything less than a complete adherance to an ideal being considered a complete failure.

    Uh, I guess I don't really have anything to say that you haven't. Just that I agree with what you're saying, from the other side of the gender barrier.

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    That's cool. I'm glad to hear that my views don't seem to be that warped. And it's good to have other voices in the discussion. I think that more people in general should be aware of these problems. Keep fighting the good fight! :-)


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