I’ve had a post (or several) brewing for over a month now about women verses men and female sexuality and feminine strength and all kinds of fun stuff like that, brought about from catching snippets regarding various issues, and I plan on beginning to tackle that next week. But I realized earlier this week that the bias goes both ways, and that males get a fair bit of shaming and belittling, often in much more subtle ways. So before I get all “I am Woman”, I wanted to muse on the male bias. As the mother of a male, it is important to me to see what I am up against.
So what incident brought this male bias to my attention? Some news article? A piece of celebrity gossip? No. It was watching an episode of Leapfrog with my son – specifically Math Adventure to the Moon. Let me say that my son has learned SO much from watching the Leapfrog series and playing with the toys. He’s not even three yet, and he can count to 100 and read/spell over 50 words, in part because of these shows. Thanks to Math Adventure to the Moon, he can also now count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. But as we rewatched the show together, something bothered me. The main characters are twin brother and sister – Tad and Lily. They get to go in a rocket ship, and they are each allowed to bring ten items (an introduction to counting). Tad goes first, and he brings, among other things, a trophy, a toy dump truck, a framed picture of his older brother, and a baseball glove. Lily, when it’s her turn, brings a jar for collecting specimens in space, a magnifying glass, the first aid kit, and a lunchbox with food. Without any dialogue, the makers slip a nudge and a wink in about how dumb boys are. It is absolutely done on purpose and completely insidious. If not for his sister, Tad would be screwed in space.
That got me thinking about all the stupid sitcoms in recent decades where the dumb but lovable manchild is matched against an attractive but shrew of a wife. How hilarious. Or not. But it is an easy script formula and it sells, so why worry about it? Because the message it sends out is one that is bad for both men and women. For men, it says I can’t do anything right. For women, it says I have to do everything on my own. And really, those emotions are the crux of most relationship problems that I hear about personally.
Oh, and for you men out there who live alone and manage to dress and feed and bathe yourselves on a daily basis, my hat is off. Because evidently in our society, that is so against the norm. And if you are somehow caring for children or pets all by yourself, well, you are practically mythical creatures!
Bottom line is that we can’t afford to keep stereotypes as the norm. People are individuals, every relationship dynamic is a little different from the next, and every interaction we have with another is an opportunity to change and grow. So why do we indoctrinate such thinking into our culture? Human nature? I don’t know.