Today was my day off and I decided to have breakfast at the diner close to my house; it’s really good and I can’t resist ordering pancakes. I have noticed that everywhere I go; there is always a television pinned the wall and more often than not; it’s usually tuned into a sports channel; I seem to one of the few Americans not enamored with sports; it just doesn’t seem to interest me. Even though I tried to ignore the television; I couldn’t help but look at since I was bored; I was alone; I had no notifications on my phone and I needed to be constantly entertained.
I glanced up and saw some segment about male solders coming home after battle and being greeted by their families and another one where families (women and children) are standing for the national anthem ( I never got the connection between the military/patriotism and sports). I admit I am not the most patriotic person in the world but at the same time I appreciate the sacrifices that our military makes in making the world a safe place; I’m just quiet about it; I don’t believe in spectacles; in fact I see it as propaganda. It makes you feel guilty if you aren’t constantly waving an American flag; with a support our troops stick on it. As a male; the message seems to be you are less of a man if you aren’t in military and if you don’t support them; you are a horrible American.
A commercial break came on and mind you the TV was silent; I saw an ad for a cable company and it showed a few women; one of them was cooking and the other was shopping; it then showed a male watching sports on TV; with the text that read “TV for everyone”. I shook my head in annoyance at the subtle and outdated messages about gender that media portrays; it has very narrow views of what it means to be a man where it gives women a lot of more roles. Men are expected to be tough; non emotional and given roles such as military soldiers, sport stars and police men/firemen. I never see male artists or writers or activists being celebrated in the media. And it makes me so sad because we forget about the sensitive men in this world or make art and make a difference in others lives; men who care for their children; men who stand up for the disenfranchised; men who help the sick and the disabled; they aren’t celebrated because having empathy for others is a considered a female trait for most. It really bothers me because as a man I made to feel weak for being who I am. I try to be kind and gentle and am proud I write; just once I’d like to turn on the TV and see someone like me; someone I could relate to. I’m sure there are a lot of males who feel like I do; it’s a very lonely feeling and all you can do is slump back in your chair and continue eating your pancakes.
So while I was looking at the TV; I noticed a father and his son having breakfast the kid was probably about 11 or 12. And it’s great to see a dad take his soon out for pancakes; that was so important to me as kid. But I thought about how this kid was interpreting these messages at his age. Maybe he’s sensitive; maybe he likes to express himself and talk about his feelings. But he looks at the TV and sees that males don’t talk about their feelings; they are supposed to be tough; never cry; fighting in battle is something all men should do. So he downplays all of those traits that aren’t masculine and emulates what a male is based on those subtle message radiating from the glow of the television. I just think boys only get one image of masculinity and it creates this culture where if you are a boy and don’t fit in with what most people’s views are as a male; then you get ostracized and our culture at large and media plays a big role in that. I think young males should learn that they should be able to have any interests they want ( even its considered feminine) and express themselves how they want without their masculinity being called into question.
I tend to read too much into things but I thought I myself as a young boy and I always liked girls; I had crushes with them at 6 or 7; never a cootie phase. But I liked talking to girls more than boys; I thought they were nicer. I remember talking to them on the playground more than males and sitting with them at lunch. But somehow down the line I got bullied by a lot of the boys in my class and I realized that hanging out with the girls; being too sensitive; expressing myself too much would make the bullying worse. So I tried to hid all of those non-masculine traits and I tried to be tough; I tried to play sports and not talk about drawing or writing; in hopes that they might accept me but they never did. If I could I would have just been myself and try not to buy into the idea that boys should be this way and girls should be that way but I was kid; what did I know? I hope we can get to a point where we as adults stop dictating to boys what a male is and let them choose their own version of masculinity. So if a boy wants to be tough and play sports; great but it is equally important to let a boy be sensitive and creative and express him openly without telling him that only girls talk about their feelings. I think there is room all sorts of roles for males. Don’t you think?