Funny preface to this post: I sat down this morning to type this up and I had to stop because my AC was leaking water in a closet in my
office geek lair and all over the floor. Called my HVAC Guy and he came over to check it out. The issue was that I apparently didn’t understand the effects of gravity on the movement of fluid in a hollow cylindrical tube. When I last changed the filter, I didn’t place the drain pipe back at a downward angle so that the condensation from the coils could drain. He just slanted the pipe back, smiled, and told me to have a good day.
Before all of that happened, I was watching a documentary called “The Mask You Live In“. It covers the concept of masculinity and how it can be damaging to young boys and the men that they become later in life. I kind of talked about this in a previous post and my experience with it. It involves the concept of masculinity as far as how we teach our boys to suppress emotions. We tell boys “don’t you cry” or “men don’t cry” and it wasn’t until I was in my mid 30s that I saw how this had damaged me as a person.
Now, let me start this off by saying that I know that I give Tumblr a lot of shit; however that is because Tumblr tends to take a concept like this and go to the farthest extreme with it. In this case, I actually owe some Tumblr users a thank you because without their rational and educational posts I would never have even thought that this was an issue and by “this” I mean the tradition that we raise our boys, if not our children in general. Another thanks to Tumblr (sort of) is that the thought of gender being a created concept had been planted; however no one on Tumblr actually ever really explained it in a way that I understood. A point that is made in this film is that, generally speaking, kids are biologically the same. You give them choices and they will make similar choices 90% of the time no matter what sex the child is, but that 10%, or 5% on each side of the spectrum, is where we get the concept of gender.
This concept is created by traditionalism, commercialism, and media. All of these create the social norm for gender. Tradition says that men are to be strong, fast, muscular, good at sports, sexualy active ( if not overly sexualy active) and they conquor/dominate. If you are not this; then you are not a man and you will never please your parents. Tradition says that a woman is to be pretty, fit, good at domestic duties, a nurturer,empathetic, not sexualy active (or at least don’t let anyone know that you are),but flirtacious and submissive. If you are not this; then you will not attract a good husband, and you will displease you parents. Commercialism supports this by advertising to these points from everything from kids toys to laptops. Media also helps with the creation of gender by the music, film and literature of the time. While traditions may be changing all over the globe, it’s still a change in progress.
Our traditions are moving away from the heteronormativity that mainly was focused by religion; however now we have new concepts that are still flawed. These concepts (again, I have talked about this in the past) like “Alpha” types and those are usually assigned to a gender (Alpha Male, Alpha Female) and even still when we look at the definitions ( of which there are many) you see these old traditions still deeply entrenched in them. You see words like “enterprising” , “Assertive”, “Superior”, “seeking all avenues of fulfillment, including the sexual”, dominant, physically fit, rarely get emotional and these were taken from sites that gave traits of both “Alpha” Males & Females. So, in our great step forward we have learned that masculinity is not a gender, but a trait; however it is a trait that we still are fucking up six ways to sunday. You also apparently cannot be “Alpha” and be feminine. Every trait that is generally described as feminine, is used to describe the “Beta” type. So, again, having empathy, emotions, being sensitive, nurturing, sexually submissive/inactive is all seen as weaker. So really, we haven’t changed anything, we just allowed females to become masculine and men to become feminine and we still ridicule them for “switching teams” (no matter what that person’s orientation is) because it is still entrenched in our brains that boys do Y and girls do X.
My problem with this is that kids don’t need this shit. If little Billy is crying; then go find out why he is crying. Why is he sad? Let him talk about it. If little Jenny wants to take karate and play with robots, let her. So what if all of the other girls have dolls and are playing with a giant fake plastic oven that comes with fake pans and food? So what if Bill likes art and doesn’t want to play football? Let Jenny have Optimus Prime and become a black belt! Let Billy talk it out and draw unicorns fighting dragons! Because if you don’t, later in life, your holidays will be awkward and your kids will be in therapy.
Trust me on that one.
Because I know if that I had heard a lot less of “if you don’t stop crying; then I will give you something to cry about!” and was allowed to express my feelings and emotions then I may not be in a few places that I am now. I know that if I had kids, I wouldn’t be pigeonholing them into these gender roles and stereotypes that come along with their sex. I would be letting them make their own choices, and guiding them as they went along. Last time I checked that’s what parents did.
Or so I have heard.