by Jennifer Johnson
When was the last time that you saw a meme or commercial that portrayed men doing something ridiculous, and you laughed because it was a “boys will be boys” scenario? How about the insurance company commercial during the Olympics that showed a man trying to high jump into the swimming pool, but missing and landing on a table? Or the one for a cell phone company that shows a man clumsily trying to catch his phone only to have it end up in a puddle? My guess is we have all probably seen something like this fairly recently. Society has taught us that men are stupid, and always will be so we should think memes and commercials like this are funny. However, I think men deserve to be respected.
Think of all the irreplaceable roles that men play in your life. Think of fathers, husbands, boyfriends, grandfathers, uncles, friends, teachers, coworkers, and others. Life would not be the same without them. If we can all agree that men play such important, respectable roles in our lives, why does the media so often portray them as lazy, brainless, irresponsible creatures? While I am certain that there are men (and women) out there who fit this description very well, and I acknowledge that we all make mistakes, I don’t believe that this is an accurate description of all men. Making this kind of sweeping generalization is like saying that all Muslims are terrorists, all gun owners are assassins, and all parents who lose their children in terrible, yet preventable, tragedies are bad parents. We do men a great disservice when we demean them in this way, when we simply accept that “boys will be boys.”
I heard a quote recently that said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its life feeling stupid” (author unknown). People generally live up to the expectations set for them. If we instill in men and boys our expectation that they will always do foolish things, we should not be surprised when they feel doomed to this fate and thus stop trying to make a positive difference.
So what can you and I do about this frustration? Here is a list of ideas:
- Genuinely thank the men in your life for fixing things or doing other tasks WITHOUT following up the thank you with a list of other tasks to be completed.
- When a man holds the door open for you, say thank you. When he gives up his seat for you, say thank you. When he offers to carry your bags for you, say thank you. Let them know that chivalry is still appreciated.
- Stop trash-talking men, and change the subject when others do. This is one way to make sure that the men in our lives know we sincerely appreciate and respect them.
- Write to the producers of television shows/movies/commercials, expressing disappointment in their anti-male content.
- Keep yourself from laughing at, and certainly do not like or share, the memes and commercials that perpetuate the idea that men are brainless fools.
This list could go on and on. I think we can all agree that we want to live in a kinder, happier world. Let us not forget the vital role that fathers play in bringing children into this world, and the reasons why traditional marriage between a man and a woman is important. Men and women working together and valuing each other are needed to protect the institution of the family. What is it worth if we solve the great conundrums of the world but the men in our lives feel demeaned, belittled, and worthless?
Thank you men for all of the important roles that you play in my life. I don’t know what I would do without you.