I saw this on my news feed on Facebook, and my reaction to it as a female might not be what you would think it might be. I felt irritated with it. Let me tell you why.
I was talking to some lady friend one day many years ago, and we were making some stereotypical observations on men (all rips, of course). My eight-year-old firstborn son was nearby and he laughed with us, being a good sport and all; and it’s like time and space all halted around me – and I noticed his facial expression. He wasn’t comfortable or happy with the fact that his gender was being trashed. He was a potential man, after all. But he was going to be a good sport about it because – that’s what men have to do. Once I “got” that, things were back to usual, and I stopped laughing and tried to make some counter statement – but the moment was over and the conversation moved in a different direction.
I spent a lot of time thinking of all the times I would man-bash, and of all the men I loved and respected who were being labeled and tossed under that description. Was it fair? No. Was it right? Double no. I was born when women were often the brunt of jokes more than men, and I wholly understand that women needed and deserved better. I don’t think it had to come at the expense of good manners or civility- but somehow that happened.
I don’t think we have to bash anyone to lift someone else high. I think we can have heroes without putting down the people who aren’t so heroic. We still have to shame and blame the scoundrels in our midst, that’s true. But, to say that anyone we notice has limits or foibles is deserving of scorn or insult is just – wrong.
So, I thought about it some more. I know that women began objecting to the scorn that men were heaping on us, and rightfully so! But – how can a man do that and not come off less heroic than just being a good sport? I honestly didn’t see how any of them could. So, I knew that as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend – it was up to me to start setting a better tone with the rest of the sisters. It was up to me to say, “I don’t like man bashing, or woman bashing. I want to put a stop to all gender distinctions that are just really human distinctions. If this characterization is observed in women as well as men, then we can’t blame all men for it. We all have limitations and failures of character. We all have weaknesses we’re not proud of, but perhaps we have to learn how to be humble about.”
What I want to do is demonstrate some RESPECT. I want men to respect their women for doing hard and heroic things. I want women to respect their men for doing hard and heroic things that might be different than what they would do. I want the bashing to stop, unless we want to point out some failure as a lesson of what NOT to do. But then I ask you to take the time to point out the responsible person, not their gender. HUMANS make mistakes, bad choices, and commit wrong actions. Not just women or men, k?
I think we’re similarly often guilty of failing to notice when one typical role of each gender is doing a mighty thing. When was the last time you read a tribute for Men – who aren’t in the military? Let’s be more appreciative of what we see, and then – yeah, take the time to say something to them about it. Or, give them some reward they will really like. Show the children what’s valuable by demonstrating what happens when we value someone they know. They already see what happens when we don’t value someone/something. No need for any efforts there.
So, since I was irritated, I fixed it.
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