I have noticed that many of my single girlfriends are simply exhausted by men – they are so fed up that they have given up the search for a life partner. They feel that it is better to be alone than with a man. As a married woman, I try to explain to them that marriage is a blessing. I tell them anecdotes of my husband killing bugs and changing light bulbs and they sigh at me. One friend recently said something that gave me pause,
“That’s it? That’s all I am getting? Someone who kills a spider and changes light bulbs. My super does that. You can’t expect me to give up so much for so little.”
Disclaimer: my husband does way more than kill spiders and change lightbulbs. He is a wonderful man who provides me with love and stability.
But why is it that I only recount those 2 attributes when talking about the benefits of having a man? It’s not just me, my other married friends always chime in with things like:
- Changes tires
- Fixes laundry machine
- Does the taxes
- Mows the lawn
- Grills stuff
- Installs home theater
Are we married to men or task rabbits? Are these the best things about the men in our lives? Is this all we expect from them? Or are we all stuck in a vicious cycle?
Gender roles are a set of societal norms that dictate the types of behavior which are acceptable and appropriate for people based on their sex. These roles mainly center around femininity and masculinity.
While gender roles vary from culture to culture – the typical male attributes are supposed to be: strength and self-reliance, success, no sissy stuff or don’t be like women, sexual interest and prowess, active, independent, tough, aggressive, dominant, stoic and never cries (Bem, 1974; Broverment et al., 1970; Herek, 1986; Zilbergeld, 1992). These defaults define the standard for masculinity
One of the biggest shortcomings of masculinity is that it limits men’s emotional development. Being emotional is perceived as negative – a female attribute and therefore negative.
EI is the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to a specific environment or achieve specific goals.
Studies indicate that women have higher EI than men because emotion is considered feminine . Masculinity calls for men to be free of emotion because boys don’t cry.
And yet succeeding in life depends in large part on succeeding socially, and a part of social success depends on EI.
How can we expect young men to succeed in relationships/life if we do not provide them with adequate tools to do so?
The Bottom Line:
Yes, our gender roles are evolving, slowly but surely and maybe one day we will realize that gender roles are just cultural norms and we should not force girls to wear pink and boys to wear blue. But until then we must realize the importance of emotional intelligence. The ability to understand people around you – we teach this to our girls. We allow them to grow emotionally and thus we have raised some very remarkable young women.
But our boys are stunted. They are unable to deal with the realities of life and are instead crushed by expectations of masculinity. Being a man must be more than grilling and changing lightbulbs.
Going back to my conversations with my single girlfriends, you are right. You need a man not a super. The stories I share with you to illustrates the benefits of having a man are pathetic. I need to reset and stop holding my husband to rigid gender norms.
So here is my challenge to you ladies: Stop accepting society’s norms on what men should be, expect more from them . Don’t simply ask, demand it! They will hate you, they will fight you, but ultimately you are helping them.
Mothers, teach your boys how to cry. Teach them how to label emotions – teach them the difference between sadness and anger. Teach them how to communicate. Give them the gift of emotional intelligence so they grow up to be more than task rabbits.