This week I discovered the My Fault, I’m Female blog and also caught a report on Current TV about mail order brides. The common thread, beyond men behaving badly/sexism, is that a lot more men than I realized are still idealizing the concept of the submissive women, expecting or wishing women would conform to this role. Me being me, my mind has been whirring, and my thoughts ended up going in two different directions. One, sexist humor (even the mild stuff that I find funny) is really not helping men (or women) and their concept of self in a modern world. I know that humor is funny, it’s fun, it’s not serious, that current thought is that as long as a comedian is making fun of his or her own culture or gender OR is attacking everyone and everything with equal zeal it is okay, but as with many other issues that are fodder for comedy, sexism and gender relations are still serious problems. Joking about it lets people acknowledge its presence and then move on without actually addressing the issue, and for people who take jokes at face value, it can be dangerous (because I know lots of comedians consider jokes as catalysts for thought on social issues, but let’s face it, lots of people in the audience just don’t think beyond the surface).
Two, I wonder if we focus too much on empowering women and teaching them how to be strong and smart in a modern way and not enough on helping men understand why a strong and smart woman is good for the world and for them (as men, as lovers, as fathers and as friends). I know this isn’t a new idea (pretty sure my gender studies textbook had a whole chapter on how feminism hurt the male concept of self/ego) but I’ve spent more time thinking about it (and feeling a bit bad for those misguided men). I could go on and on in either of these directions, but I’d really like to hear what others think about these ideas. That said, my encounters with men have been very positive lately, and I hope that continues. Let’s hear it for the very polite men who have boosted my ego with such passing compliments as “You look really nice!” and “I just had to tell you, your outfit really works!” and “Hello! Have a nice day!”