So, the other day, I wrote about how we unintentionally try to empower women by making them more like men. Except we don’t say it in those terms — we call it feminism instead. Be the best woman you can be by being as much like a man as you can. It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
I was talking with Wes about it, about how we don’t do the same to young men… except, wait a minute! We do! I honestly don’t hate young adult fiction and the movies that they breed (I actually love them like a screeching preteen girl, y’all), but I couldn’t think of any better example than our dear, beloved Edward Cullen.
Now, there’s a man. Oh, there’s so much to love about him. Were I to list all the reasons why he’s dreamy and why teens (and some thirtysomething year old women, cough) think he’s to die for, it might look like this…
1. He’s sensitive.
2. He’s really in touch with his feelings.
3. He’s not afraid to show his emotions.
4. He loves to TALK about these emotions.
5. He says the kinds of things that all women like to hear.
What a catch, right?! I could sit around and gab with Edward all day long about my insecurities, my deepest hopes, and my greatest dreams. And he would get it! He would so get it! He would understand me perfectly because…
… well, because he’s more feminine than I am, likely.
Truth, y’all. I dragged Wes to EVERY SINGLE Twilight movie. (They always came out in late November, so I could argue my birthday/my movie choice. Win!) And after EVERY SINGLE one of them, he made the same point.
“Real men aren’t like that.”
I bristled at this because don’t we, as a society, teach our boys to be gentle, sensitive, and calm? Don’t we encourage them at school to sit completely still, to keep quiet, and to trade in rambunctious play for organized games? Don’t we encourage them to be just a little more like the girls?
We do. Because those traits are desirable traits, even in boys, even if it makes them a little less like boys.
Why do we do this?
“That movie,” Wes said, almost in answer to my question, “appeals to women because women? Want a man who acts like a WOMAN.”
And while I don’t believe that real men are devoid of any emotion or feelings, I think the natural inclination of most men is NOT towards lengthy discussions about these things or excessively emotive behavior. While we can almost all agree that there are masculine behaviors we appreciate — protectiveness, strength, bravery, boldness — we can probably all admit that we sometimes elevate more feminine traits above those and that we almost encourage the development of these gentler behaviors in our boys.
I know I’m speaking in broad, general terms. And I know that we, as individuals, are not simply one thing and one thing alone, instead of being a summation of both masculine and feminine traits. But just as I have some concerns with how we encourage our girls to be more like men at the cost of their God-given feminity, I have concerns that we’re doing the same type of thing to our boys.
Pick up any young adult novel geared towards romance (and most of them are) and just see if the words coming out of the hero’s mouth sound like any boy that you know. I know that these books are marketed to girls, so they’re written to appeal to girls. And I think the fact that they’re so wildly popular is evidence that we’re teaching our girls and our boys, at some point, that to be whole and balanced and good, they have to be almost equal on all traits, male and female alike. We’re encouraging them towards sameness.
Sameness. You’re no different than me. We’re just alike. God didn’t create us differently after all.
I don’t pretend to have the definitive answer on this. But emasculating boys to make them fit into some mold we’re projecting onto them is as dangerous as telling our girls to just be tougher. Let boys be who they are, and let girls be who they are.
Just something to think about…