Ever since I started this blog, I have become aware just how many of the conversations I have are related to this idea of gender equality. So much so that whenever a conversation comes up that I find particularly relevant to what we are talking about here my friends and I say, “To the blog!”
Several days ago two of my friends, one male, one female, were discussing some of the music they listen to. When my female friend mentioned that she’s a fan of a certain female singer, my male friend became upset. He has a problem with this singer because he believes she promotes negative stereotypes of men. He thinks she portrays men as jerks who are incapable of commitment or treating women well. He objects to this portrayal of men and doesn’t like that young women are influenced by this and might believe what she says to be true. He also thinks that these negative stereotypes of men influence male behavior.
I thought he made a very interesting point. Having an accurate understanding of who we are and how we fit into the world is important for discovering our purpose and our relationships with other people. If we are building self-images on false conceptions it will impact our relationships and how we treat people. In talking about how we should move away from stereotyped constructs, it’s important that we recognize that it is not just women who are negatively stereotyped. My male friend has a right to be upset and object to the negative portrayal of men. It is now even widely accepted that working towards the advancement of women necessitates the involvement of men. In seeking to curb the oppression of women, we have to educate men as well. In doing so, we should encourage boys to question underlying assumptions about their nature, those that characterize them as sex-driven and immature. We need more men (and women) like my male friend voicing their dissatisfaction with regard to how they are portrayed in popular culture. Expanding the basis of human identity means moving beyond nicely packaged stereotypes and the narrow ways in which groups of people are defined.