Monday, February 6, 2012

Women and Men, Go Figure

            I expect to see women being strong and I expect to see men stepping up their game to compensate so there’s still a hint of that male dominance that makes the cavewoman in all of us start purring. It has probably never dawned on most people in my generation just how much we’ve been affected by the feminist movement. I’ve been in a Women’s Studies class for three weeks now and already it’s like holy crap, a lot’s changed just in the last thirty years. I was trying to avoid a blog about gender and feminism, but the subject won’t leave me alone. Rest assured, there will still be a blog at some point about feminism and Sex and the City. I’m excited about that, but I want to get further in the class before attempting it. But already there’s a lot of stuff. That will be another long one. But for the here and now…
            What is expected of men and women has changed a lot in the last thirty years. When the first paragraph of this blog blasted into my head, I was on my way back from Mass Media where we had just got done watching a documentary on how the role of men has changed in the home and more specifically, how that change has translated over to TV. In a nutshell, we’ve gone from Father Knows Best to Everybody Loves Raymond. They made a comment in the documentary about how Ray is just one step above Homer Simpson. I always thought he was borderline idiot, but that comparison never popped into my head. That was a side effect of the feminist movement that I have to wonder if they even saw coming. With women stepping up in the workforce and in the home as the enforcer, where do men fit in? Our traditional roles have been challenged and TV usually shows the stereotypes of those roles. The father stereotype today is that he is not much good except for working and coming home to watch the game. Or going golfing all the time and forgetting his wedding anniversary. Can you say “sleeping on the couch”?
            We see what TV thinks our society has come to. Fathers like Ray Romano and Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are not the brightest bulbs and their women are usually smarter than they are, even if they are stay at home moms, which they all are, come to think of it. They have their aspirations outside the home, but never quite get there for more than one episode. Then you have shows like Roseanne. Roseanne worked the entirety of the series, because they couldn’t afford to do anything else, at least until they hit the lottery. That’s more along the lines with what I grew up knowing.
 My mom has worked in the same place for going on twenty-five years, if not longer than that. I am only twenty, twenty-one in April. My dad has been at his job for probably close to twenty years at this point, but he hopped around a little bit back in the day so it’s probably longer than that. They both brought in money and growing up I watched them work together to make our household run. Mama was not subservient, nor can I imagine her ever being to anyone other than her own mother, and my dad did not treat her like she wasn’t capable of anything besides cleaning and cooking. I grew up with this example and a lot of people I know did as well, so the idea of those shows where the wife answered to her husband were a joke.
Most of the people I know, including some from the older generations in my area, are like this. Both parents worked. Instances where a woman was treated like she belonged in the home and couldn’t go anywhere else with her life were slim to none in my hometown, at least that I noticed. And my family fell into the category of having to manage their money very carefully, because there wasn’t a ton of it coming in. They didn’t have time for that crap, to be honest.
So women have come a long way in the last thirty years, maybe to the outside world more than my little corner of it. Perhaps television  needs to take a lesson from my parents, and Bear’s parents, and Bear and myself. The men are not idiots. The women are not the secretly smart ones who work exclusively in the home. We all have our own aspirations, our own dreams and goals, and we’re working together to make them happen, supporting and loving and yelling at each other and laughing. Our kids see parents who are a team, no one person above the other, except in certain circumstances where it might be a good idea, like home invasions. Fem-Nazi or not, I am sending my man to inspect that noise in the middle of the night. Independence did not make me grow a foot and put on a hundred plus pounds. Sorry feminists.

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