What did you think when you saw Russell Wilson cry after the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship Game? What were your thoughts when Ndamukong Suh cried after the Detroit Lions disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys? Our socialization of gender norms is so deeply connected to our expectations of individual behavior that we are surprised when men cry or when women are assertive. These gender norms or rules about masculinity and femininity are so accepted that they become “common sense”. An Atlantic Magazine article about a “Stay-at home Dad” illustrates the false dichotomy of gender norms. Below is an excerpt:
“Nearly half of fathers report dissatisfaction with the amount of time that they are able to spend with their children—twice the rate of mothers who say the same. The gender-equality debate too often ignores this half of the equation. When home is mentioned at all, the emphasis is usually on equalizing burdens—not equalizing the opportunity for men, as well as women, to be there… There’s an underlying assumption that women and men have different visions of what matters in life—or, to be blunt about it, that men don’t find child-rearing all that rewarding, whereas women regard it as integral to the human experience. I do not think this assumption is true, generally speaking.”
The article above illustrates that both men and women want many of the same things. The popular culture notion that men and women are in competition or that being a man is the opposite of a woman leaves little choice for both men and women to break the gender rules. An assertive woman is called the “B word” and likewise a man expressing sadness is called a “whoosh” or worse.
1. Socially when will stop labeling certain issues like “work-life balance” etc. as women’s issues?
2. Gender “common sense” states that only women really appreciate their relationships. If you identify as a man do you agree that actually many men value their relationships with family and friends?