Man-bashing used to be fun. My girlfriends and I would spend countless hours reducing the entire male population to a handful of stereotypes.
It was OK, because white men ruled the world and deserved to be taken down a peg. It was fashionable, too. There are plenty of TV shows with bumbling, inept men being lead around by smart women. Hell, without cell phones to take pictures at the grocery store, they couldn't even manage that, according to one commercial.
It was completely acceptable and entertaining to tear down an entire sex because it was funny, and besides, it was payback.
Then I had first one boy, then a second. I had spent my life reprimanding men who used "girl" as a derogative term, but never thought about the way I spoke about men.
Photo courtesy the author.
You throw like a girl!
Oooo, look at the little girly-man!
You know the phrases. I hate them and will not tolerate them.
But when consoling a female friend who just got stood up or got her heart trampled on my a man, how often do I say, "Men are pigs," "such a typical man," et cetera? How often do I refer to someone's husband as their "third child?" And how do my boys feel about it when they overhear it?
We often forget that kids are little spies who are not ignoring the grownup conversation going on a few feet away from where they are playing, but are digesting and trying to make sense of what Mama and her friends are saying when they think no one is listening.
My boys are white males. I don't want them to be Homer Simpson, Ray Romano, Ray Donovan, or Dexter. I don't want them to be stupid or violent stereotypes. I don't want them to emulate callous, selfish men who can't keep their fly zipped.
And I also don't want them to hear me bashing an entire gender at my dining room table over a cup of coffee with my friends and family. It's not just the degradation. It's saying it is OK. If all men act like this, why shouldn't they?
When women say that "men never grow up" or that "all men are selfish," we are excusing the behavior as the accepted norm. When parents do it, we are teaching our boys that this is how men act. Is that the message we really want to pass on to the next generation? Or should we try and look at each person as a individual and judge them on their individual attributes?
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