During Super Bowl XLIX there were a few commercials that showed nurturing, compassionate and loving images of dads. Although the goal of a commercial is to sell a product it was refreshing to see some healthier depictions of masculinity in these ads. The messages we usually receive from the media generally attempt to reinforce the “innate” differences between men and women. The ‘Like a Girl Campaign’ (which also had a commercial in the Super Bowl) is an example of media attempting to challenge our “common sense” understanding about the socialized perception of gender difference. Many young girls and women think of themselves as fast, strong and competitive. Ask any woman who is an athlete or CEO about these qualities. Many young boys and men think of themselves as kind, considerate and supportive. Ask any man who is a teacher or therapist about these qualities.
As Don McPherson says “We don’t raise boys to be men. We raise them not to be women”. Socially we generally define masculinity as the opposite of femininity. Being a man is often understood as not being a woman but if women can be warm, nurturing, compassionate and loving then can’t men have these qualities too? Many of us might laugh if someone said women can’t be strong, competitive and express leadership. We want both men and women to be able to have all of these positive qualities.
- Socially when will we stop labeling certain qualities as masculine and feminine?
- If you identify as a man when you are behaving in a compassionate and caring manner do you consider these qualities as masculine, feminine or just positive qualities?