How to Please the Patriarchy
We’ve all seen it, right? Heard about it? This idea that women are complicated — no really, super duper hard to understand — while men are simple and want simple things.
One particular image has made its rounds on Facebook recently.
Movies with titles like What Women Want, memes referencing “What She Said vs. What She Meant,” and bandwagon appeals along the lines of “well, everyone just knows it’s true” reinforce this notion. Clearly, women want a lot and men want very little, right?
Let us set aside the fact that the cultural narrative generally is from the male perspective (i.e. that men constitute the majority of directors, screenwriters, executive producers, music producers, lyricists, famous novelists, and so forth), influencing the dominant cultural perceptions of love, romance, attraction, and gender. Let us also disregard how the idea of women as demanding, gold-digging, party-pooping nags belies the true nature of love and marriage (i.e. men benefit from it far more from it overall than women do, statistically speaking). Last, but not least, let’s forget about the fact that most women have so much in the way of body-image baggage that the “naked” part of the equation is fraught with all sorts of problems — and that the body type that the vast majority of women have is not the one that is the first to come to most people’s minds when they picture a nude female-bodied person.
Where do such notions leave men, not least of all men who are into wine and partially-clothed sex?
If we were to accept the idea that men are all simple and all the same, someone must set up this rather narrow standard of masculinity. Men who do not conform to it are either ridiculed or forced into silence about their true desires. Nuance, variability, novelty, uniqueness — all of these are suppressed in men when people buy into the notion that all that is needed to make them happy is, basically, a beer ad scenario.
When people insist that it must be just so even in the face of evidence to the contrary, they are valuing stereotypes and gender norms instead of each other. If it is still Valentine’s Day where you live and you have (a) male-identified partner(s), why not honor and acknowledge them for the individuals that they are? I’m sure most of us would prefer to make ourselves happy instead of reinforcing gender norms.