Mind Of Man: In Defense Of Gender Stereotypes

Recently, I rambled about The Big Switcheroo – men and women adopting each other’s worst gender behaviors. The diatribe was equal parts self-indulgence and genuine confusion. Are men really becoming needy, emotional leeches and women emotionally void predators? I suppose no one said the collective lurch towards equality was going to be pretty. And I’d like to add that it seems no one is really having any fun. It’s never fun being someone who you’re not.

But enough Danny Downer.

We’re men. This is our shoulder. You may weep on it. Soak it to the bone, we can take it. Your emotionality doesn’t make you a psycho. Our stoic façade doesn’t make us animals.

There is such a thing as a positive gender stereotype; I’m all for equality, but men and women both possess gender-specific qualities that are, well, special. But unique, and worthy of celebration.

Gender stereotypes can be summed up by my interpretation of a stand-up comedy show I was forced to attend recently. The routine is summed up thusly:

“There are many, various amusing differences between men and women. Men are slobs and they think farting is funny. Women are neat freaks, and they do not think farting is funny. By your laughter, I can surmise you recognize that these observations are too true. I shall continue. What is the deal with women always taking so long in the bathroom? And likewise, what is the deal with men always wanting sex. Your laughter validates my comedic analysis.”

Really? Is this really what it’s all about? I am not a feminist; how can I be? And ladies, always be deeply distrustful of sensitive hipster who says he’s a feminist. I just resent the pressure to be binary, to pick a caricature and that’s that. In order to be true to myself, and ourselves, we’ve got to redefine the terms that define us.

Are we really what the pages of GLAMOPOLITAN and BRODAWG magazines tell us we are?

Women have a capacity for emotional depth that men just don’t have. Sorry, that’s the truth. There is no pleasure more sublime than a woman who loves you extinguishing the agony of a bad day with an understanding smile that transcends verbal communication and gooses the outer-realms of the cosmic.

Meanwhile, I truly believe with all my heart that one of the defining masculine traits is strength. Not fake, decorative strength. I’m not talking muscles, or facial scruff, or pursing your lips and flashing gang signs on your MySpace page. I’m talking keeping your head when the excrement hits the fan. Being a man means shouldering the problems of those you love long enough for them to find their balance.

Being a man means killing the zombies first, and later, telling your woman how scared you were. And one day, maybe that can flip.

And when the world becomes too much for you, we can be leaned on. You can expose yourself in all your clumsy, human glory and we won’t be scared.

We’re men. This is our shoulder. You may weep on it. Soak it to the bone, we can take it. Your emotionality doesn’t make you a psycho. Our stoic façade doesn’t make us animals.

The ancient symbols for men and women are, respectively, ♂ and ♀. The male symbol stands for Aries’ spear and shield, the female, Aphrodite’s mirror. In these symbols are the best and worst of our gender. Violent aggression for men, and vanity for women (narcissism sounds like a diagnosis; vanity is a vice.)

But these symbols also represent the best virtues of the sexes. Aries’ shield can also symbolize courage, which is the act of deciding something in this life is more important than fear. And Aphrodite’s mirror can also symbolize introspection and wisdom, which is knowing and loving who you are. The first step to loving those in your life. Personally, I aspire to both positive gender stereotypes.

If you’ve read this far, you have my permission to vomit.

Let’s celebrate our respective gender awesomeness a little more. And then we can return to making a world where we are equal, except for the things that make us unique.