Why is it OK to man-bash? (from a mom’s perspective)

Last night I was at a friend’s house and my daughter (17) was talking about this boy she likes. She says they can’t officially be boyfriend and girlfriend because he has “stuff to work out”, which in this case means he is still thinking about his ex girlfriend, he says.

My two friends (both women) began to tell her how stupid boys are and one even said “Men and boys are evil”. That was alarming to me. While it’s true I want my daughter to be a strong confident woman, who can stand up for herself, I’m not sure the way to go about it is by bashing men,as a whole.

I’ve been thinking lately about how much male-bashing there actually is all around us. Every single sitcom family has an idiot dad or a dad who can’t quite get things right without help from the mom.

Shows like: Roseanne, According to Jim, Everybody Loves Raymond, My Wife & Kids, King of Queens, The Simpsons, and the list goes on and on. The husbands and/or dads are always the butt of the joke and are always screwing things up, and they are rarely an intellectual match to their wives.

These are some of the TV shows my daughter has watched, or is still watching. I am truly worried about the message it sends to her about men. My mom, who my daughter adores, is constantly cracking jokes about men. If the joke isn’t about them being stupid or lazy it’s about how women are superior to men in pretty much every other way. My mom uses any excuse to point out men’s shortcomings, as she sees it.

I have a close (male) friend who has a very overbearing wife, and he struggles with staying in her good graces while still having a positive relationship with his kids and the rest of his family. I was surprised to hear him, to a room of his family and friends, joke about, or even brag about, how when his wife gives him “that look” he knows he might as well get his pillow and head to the couch for the night.

So, we’ve got a great majority of women putting men down on a regular basis, through joking or blatant slams, the media portraying men as little more than idiots who can’t function as a husband or father without the constant guidance and scolding of their wives, and men who put themselves down to stay in their wife or girlfriend’s good graces.

After all of that we tell our daughters to go out and find a boyfriend or husband, and to look for the exception. I’d say this is akin to raising your children to believe that sex is dirty and something we can’t talk about, but then tell them to save it for the person they love.

Then we have the mothers who complain about their adult daughter who isn’t in a relationship, or married, and may never give her any grandchildren. What if someone told you for 20 years that all eggs were rotten, and upon turning 20, although the message never changed you were now told by everyone that you had to start eating eggs. I’m guessing it would be terrifying, nerve-wracking, confusing, and a downright horrible thing to face.

This is what I believe we are doing to our girls. Instead of our daughters being taught about how to pick a good partner and how to function in a healthy relationship they are being taught, by osmosis, how men are these wretched creatures who will stab you in the back given the chance.

What can we do about it? Well this is tricky isn’t it? We are living in a world where defending a man is the same as stabbing a woman in the back. Telling our girlfriends that we don’t like to hear all the man-bashing is like a slap in the face to every woman on the planet. We teach our kids that you don’t put others down in order to make yourself feel better. But then we do it when it comes to men. Women still face an uphill battle when it comes to equal pay, access to healthcare and education, and violence toward women is still rampant around the world.

Wouldn’t it be easier to get men to sign on to supporting women’s issues if we weren’t dragging men through the mud every chance we get?

They say that when things change it’s like the pendulum swings in the extreme other direction before it ever comes back to center. I’ve been waiting for it to come back to center on this issue but I just don’t see it getting any better. If anything I see it getting worse. The only solution I see is on the individual level. I plan to start talking to my daughter about how tv shows portray men, and how women make jokes about how ignorant men are. And just like I take the opportunity to talk to her about other things that come up in the news or in movies I plan to start trying to use these instances to try and counteract some of the negativity she’s been exposed to. I want my daughter to come to relationships without a chip on her shoulder or a distrust for a man who has never done anything to lose her trust. I believe that we can teach our daughters to be aware, and protect themselves, as strong intelligent women without teaching them that men are foolish idiots not worthy of our trust.