Want to know a secret? Men aren’t as helpless as some would like you to believe, but you wouldn’t know it from consuming great bites of crappy popular culture.
Pop culture presents such a distorted view of men that one has to wonder at the potential harmful effects it all has.
From the Flintstones to Kevin Can Wait (the newest Kevin James vehicle, because there’s always room for Kevin James in a world where Paul Blart: Mall Cop 3 is a distinct possibility), men are portrayed as the polar opposite of anything that might be considered “adult” (one might say “feminine” but we’ll allow for the benefit of doubts).
They’re idiots in the kitchen, they have no clue how to interact with other men beyond grunts, can’t be bothered with emotions – the list goes on and on. Basically, when it comes to relationships, men are portrayed as little more than tall, moderately hairy children, and the women with them are long-suffering but patient and forgiving.
Here are 5 of the primary ways that society misinforms and misguides us when it comes to men:
We’re Trained To Accept Heinous Dipshittery
Let’s start with the most basic premise: the idea that men are phallic jackasses who can’t see a woman without becoming the whistling wolf, which every boy child sees from the age of 5 onward.
Even Disney shows do it, most egregiously when a grown woman walks on-scene and the ooohhhs are dubbed into the laughtrack as the pre-pube boy stars of the show gaze dreamily at the attractive lady. In the interests of clarity we’re going to caps lock. GROWN WOMAN, PRE-PUBESCENT BOY. We will not link to any examples because sadness is already in great supply.
Scenes such as this are, of course, meant to signal to young boys that although they can’t have them now, their futures will be veritable smorgasbords of gorgeous women they can have once all the proper hairs have taken root.
This is nothing new. Hell, the movie Weird Science (1985) morphed into a franchise and blessedly short-lived television series based entirely on phallic jackassery. Pop culture has a long, disturbing history of teaching us that pre-teen and teenage boys need to feel that they can, and at some point in their life will, possess mature (or close to it, and preferably naked) women.
From a very early age men are taught that it’s okay (and downright expected of them) to want to sleep with any woman they see.
Great job society, really great.
We’re Trained To See Men As Incompetent But Adorable
Don’t you just love the fact that women are expected to take care of children even when there is both a man and a woman in the relationship? It’s implied that men can’t do anything that mature, organized, reliable people do: take care of babies, dress themselves properly, prepare dinner without resorting to white bread and jelly, clean any mess that didn’t come from changing a car’s oil, or keep their kids from becoming crack whores in the 15 minutes their wives leave them to babysit (side note: if you’re a father, you don’t “babysit”. They’re your offspring, so…)
That’s every commercial featuring a couple in a domestic situation, every sitcom about a nuclear family, and any movie involving men and babies/old people/farm animals/humans.
Unless a man has someone to mother him, he is adrift. This enforced adolescent message is so counterproductive, unreal, and stupid.
Men: no matter what you’ve seen on TV, commercials, movies, or badly-written books by dateless young male MFA graduates, women are not lining up in hopes that they’ll not only have to deal with the hells of workplace inequality, socially-mandated sexual harassment, pantyhose on summer days, and their periods, but also get to come home to a gelatinous manchild (see: Peter Pan Syndrome) who couldn’t figure out that defrost didn’t mean placing a fully frozen turkey under a hair dryer.
It’s not adorable. At best, you’ll be patronized with the emotional equivalent of these lines from The Princess Bride as she grits her teeth in anticipation of yet another day: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
Pop culture might paint this picture, but you don’t have to live up to it.
We’re Trained To Believe Men Are Insensitive
Men, has this ever happened to you?
Woman: Does this make me look fat?
Man (looking uncomfortable; laugh track titters): Umm… probably not as much as it should.
Of course it hasn’t. BECAUSE WOMEN DON’T ASK THIS QUESTION, not unless they, too, are living under the mental cloud of Western junk civilization. This, again, is the province of sitcoms and the quick, easy joke.
But time and again men are taught that sensitivity pertains to the tips of their d*cks, not the depth of their human interactions, because even if someone says, “Does this make me look fat?” a sensitive, empathetic person will intuit the source of that doubt and ask, “Are you happy with it?”
We don’t get that in our pop culture entertainment, do we? No, we get the insensitive guy whose girlfriend subsequently flies off the handle, thereby making us sympathetic to him.
We get the guy who doesn’t have a clue. (Everybody Loves Raymond)
We get the wounded, misunderstood everyman (every comedy Jack Nicholson has headlined).
Instead of the guy who sees that we’ve had a terrible day of it and attempts to make things better, whether he’s attracted to us or not, we get image after image of guys pretending to care so they’ll get laid.
Really, entertainment industry? Really?
The final 2 points are so readily and clearly illustrated by the 2016 presidential campaign and 2017 election that we’ll handle them in one shot: We’re trained to see Pig-headedness (right, even when he knows he’s wrong) as a positive character trait, and we’re trained to overlook the Supremely Mediocre & Forever Compensating.
When a man is talking, what does our media overwhelmingly tell us? That’s he’s implicitly right; that everyone else should listen, and that credentials matter a lot less than hairstyle, suit, and (if young and attractive) square of jaw; if aged, number of and strategic use of wise wrinkles.
Pig-headedness seems to be the new ideal, which is odd because pig-headedness usually comes as a result of someone being supremely mediocre and forever compensating, which certainly shouldn’t lend itself to “Yeah, that’s me!” pride.
We can link to scores of 24 Hour News Cycle interviews (shouting sessions) to illustrate this insidious lesson, but life is short and pretending the obviousness can be refuted is tiresome. In an age of alternative facts, opinion porn and head-up-assery, men are constantly being told to man the line and not only take heart in ignoring the knowledge of others but be boisterous about it.
So we get shows like Top Gear where the men act like children but they do it in fast, thrusty, expensive cars so it’s not only okay, it’s cool.
We get politicians who believe the world will run out of wind if we use too many wind farms deriding actual scientists in news bites that are shared a million times online.
We get bluster: the man who is wrong, knows he is wrong, knows everyone knows he is wrong, but he is able to stand to his full height, make faces, and be dismissive.
Yet, here’s what’s weird about this entire cultural miasma: men, for the most part, are the gatekeepers behind all these images of men. Society trains women to think of men as incompetent, boorish, neglectful boobs. (Ha, bewwwbs.)
Although perhaps, just maybe, society is forging a self-fulfilling prophecy by sowing these seeds in our minds and watching as they grow and blossom in order to continue the cycle.
One might even think that perhaps there’s a shadow group of men who want to be seen that way so that they never have to grow up. Or perhaps that a large enough portion of the male population never grows up because a grown person isn’t going to accept banal, shallow representations of human connections as a blueprint for life, and thus will not consume the millions of hours of utter crap and useless products shoveled our way under the banner of “entertainment.
Nah, anything that Machiavellian gets in the way of all things mannishly sacrosanct, doesn’t it? It would totally fly in the face of reason.
This is an opinion piece by someone who would prefer to remain anonymous. Your opinions and political views may differ, and nobody may claim to be “right” so let’s keep any discussion polite shall we? Just leave your thoughts in a comment below – but play nice.