I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of men. I don’t mean this just as a heterosexual female, but because I’ve been blessed to know and love some truly outstanding examples of human masculinity in my lifetime. My father and husband being two easy examples to cite, but I’ve also got an incredible wealth of awesome guy friends.
I would never claim that men and women are exactly the same because I have never observed us to be so. Although we’re the same species and very similar creatures, we have biological and mental differences that are impossible for me to ignore. One is not “better” than the other despite what many people think. Hopefully we manage to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses under ideal circumstances. That being said, over the years I keep hearing many men (although rarely ones I personally know) cite a negative trope about women that is simply not true in my experience. That women are “emotional” and men are “rational”.
I’ve seen many personal examples of the inaccuracy of this stereotype in my life. The workplace is an excellent microcosm in which to view human behavior patterns. Both women and men in the workplace exhibit inappropriate levels of emotion from time to time. Humans are emotional creatures and none of us are very Vulcan-like with our control levels, in fact we both pretty much suck at it. I mean, c'mon, I have an entire blog category labelled "emotional meltdowns" so I'm aware that I'm entirely capable of them. I just note that men and women tend to meltdown in slightly different ways – women become sad and men lose control of their anger. Still, this is not always the case. The last time I myself showed inappropriate emotion at work – it was in throwing an entirely guy-like fit of annoyance over something somebody else did.
Still… the trope persists.
I don’t indulge often in reality TV but it’s the summer and most of my alien and vampire shows are on hiatus, so I recently wound up watching a bizarre reality show experiment called Naked and Afraid. The idea is to drop two strangers – one male and one female – almost completely without resources into a difficult survival based environment for about twenty days and see how they fare. They are, unsurprisingly, hungry, cold, thirsty and miserable. Modern human beings are no longer very good at surviving the way wild animals do.
The most interesting part though is watching the social experiment that goes on. The type of guy who would volunteer for such a thing is generally what I would quantify as a “Type A male” – very in charge and a bit bossy. The women strike me as slightly more varied in personality and harder to pin down personality wise, but they all have a survival training background of some type. Almost without exception, during their initial interviews the men express concern that the “emotional” nature of their female partner is going to be a problem, and that they’re going to wind up looking after their physically weaker counterparts.
Then, without fail, within a few days that same man is having an emotional breakdown – screaming at the wilderness over his lack of ability to control it while his female partner sits patiently somewhere nearby waiting for him to pull himself back together. Sometimes there are tears too.
It would be funny if it wasn’t quite so frustrating. Why are these guys unable to see that the ones breaking down and being emotionally weak are them? Why does this trope persist? Anger has a purpose – it can save your life in a dangerous moment and give you the strength you need to break free from and escape a hostile predator, but directionless anger just saps your energy and annoys everyone around you.
Of course, perhaps the editors are just editing every single episode to present the women more favorably than the men? I’m aware of the overwhelming control a film editor has to manipulate the flow of narrative from what must have been hundreds of hours of raw footage gathered. I guess it’s possible, I have no way of knowing. But, like I said, it’s interesting to watch.
|I left the cake out in the rain, whatever will I do?! *sob*