Let’s NOT generalize men and women!

Everybody has read about the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman and Ferguson case. In both these cases, a young African-American in his teens, was fatally shot due to no fault of his own. If you think about it, these two innocent teenagers lost their lives because of the generalized notion that existed in everyone’s head that African-Americans are all trouble-makers. But know what people? I have come across many African-Americans who are polite, well educated, who work in IT fields and above all obey the law, just like you and me.

The problem is everyone seems to hold a strong opinion of how people are and how they are “expected” to behave. These opinions are mostly formed from what we see in our daily lives, what we read, and what we experience. It’s okay to have a an opinion of a particular man/woman who wronged you, I think it’s wrong to make this the basis for how we judge all men and women. Holding a generalized notion may seem harmless, but see where it led to in the 2 cases that I mentioned above!

So, I thought of penning down some of the generalized notions that society holds for men and women. I hope this helps to erase some built-in ideas a society has, on how men and women behave or are expected to behave. 🙂

Generalized notions regarding men

1. Men have to work!

In the olden days, when women weren’t allowed to be away from kitchen, this held true. Men were the bread-winners of the family then. But now we can see many women working along with men, be it in a software company or aerospace. But society still expects men to work and women to stay-at-home. Many men would love to be a stay-at-home dad or be a home-maker. Do you think men wouldn’t enjoy their time at home? It’s completely human to have that feeling! Let’s not generalize that all men HAVE to work to keep the family running. They deserve some rest. 

2. Men hate shopping

Oooh, aren’t you wrong in that! I know many men who love to shop for clothes and shoes. But when they go shopping with a woman, they shop so fast and with a wide grin, let her know that they are done. They somehow have got into their heads that it is not considered “manly” to spend a long time shopping. If a man likes to shop for a long time, let’s not criticize him! Let a man be!

3. Men shouldn’t cry

Men do have feelings and it’s completely natural to exhibit their emotions publicly. World history consists of so many men who cried publicly. Abraham Lincoln, Andre Agassi, Obama are some of the people that we all know and have seen cry publicly. Somehow society has generalized that men are supposed to suppress their feelings and women are supposed to put them out on display. When people suppress the urge to cry, it causes emotions to be bottled up and may lead to high blood pressure. No wonder lots of men have high BP! Come on society, let a man cry if he wants to! And let’s take a pledge to NOT tease a man when he does!

4. Men hate anything close to feminism

There are men who support feminists and strive for their equality. For my previous post on feminism, I was happy to see few of them look at it from a woman’s perspective and strongly support my views. There are those men who support anything which is good for the betterment of the society and speak up when it’s wrong; and there are those who hate anything spoken for feminism; then there is a third type, who would like to support feminism, but then they hate to stand apart from the crowd, so they just decide to agree to those who are against feminism.

There are some men of the first type. But we need more! We need more men to be brave enough to stand apart from the crowd and speak up for a woman when a sexist comment is passed in a room full of guys! Standing up for what you feel right , be it for women’s equality or racism will only make you stronger.

5. Men are all perverts

Sadly this is the generalized notion society has of all men. That’s why parents are scared to send their daughters to a co-ed college or to a party where guys are present. But not all men are like that. Of course I, as well as the next person, loathe those barbarians who did that to Nirbhaya and detest every single monster who still think women are an object to play with. But not all men are the same. There are men who are sweet, who are searching for love, who are looking out to marry someone they can shower their love upon.

It’s a cruel world out there. I know I speak for every woman when I say it’s difficult to figure out a friend from a fiend. There are those guys in buses/trains who are just waiting for a opportunity; there are those men who think everything a woman does, means that she is giving him the green signal; and then there are those who know the difference between a yes and no and understand the right from the wrong. There are still wonderful men in the society!

Generalizations regarding Women

1. Women are bad drivers

So..many men and women hold this generalized view. I can strongly say that not all women are bad drivers. Same as not all men are good drivers. Come on people, haven’t you seen male cab drivers and auto wallahs driving on the road? Do they all fall under your definition of “good drivers”? I have seen many men who drive recklessly on ECR, Chennai, while many women drive cautiously there. There are exceptions everywhere! IF people hold this generalized view of women, then in an accident, where a man and woman driver are involved, who do you think the police might think is at fault? Let’s stop generalizing women drivers.

2. Women are spendthrifts

This is so not true for all women! I know lot of families where the women are extra cautious about spending money than their men. What a man spends his money on is different from what a woman spends it for. Just because of that, men seem to hold this totally absurd generalized view of women.

3. Women love to gossip

You know what? When men get together, they do speak about their friends’ newly bought cars, home, salary, jobs and so on. Ain’t that true, guys? So what do we call that people? 🙂 And by the way, when women get together, they speak about themselves not others. That’s called sharing. Some women do gossip about others, like some men gossip about another person’s job. But let’s not generalize this people.

4. Women hate to give up their kitchen

Whenever I ask why some men don’t cook, I am given this absurd reason “My wife doesn’t let me!”. They seem to hold this notion that women like to rule the kitchen and don’t want another person to take over. For all those who say this, I ask you – did you ever volunteer more than a day or two to take over and cook a good meal for both of you? Women love to relax and eat a meal just like men do. It’s not something which only men enjoy! So don’t generalize this and give yourself an excuse!

5. Women are always to be blamed

The generalized notion of most of the society is – whatever happens women are to be blamed! If a woman is raped, she is blamed for being provocative! If a woman speaks up for bringing about some changes, she is accused of rocking the boat and causing a stir in the society! If a woman speaks about gender equality, she is criticized and called names! If she calls herself a feminist, she is thought of as a sad individual with a very bad life to account for!

Women are shut down or victim-blamed when they try to raise a voice against whats norm. When a woman speaks for gender-equality or feminism, many just don’t want to listen. She is NOT against all men. She is speaking of equal rights. She is speaking for your wife, your daughter, your grand daughter. Stand along with her and be supportive of her! LET’S NOT KILL THE MESSENGER! (Yeah, its in bold, and yeah I want to get this across to YOU!)

 There are so many generalized views that people have. The five listed above are those that came to the top of my mind when I started this post 🙂 If one bad experience is all it takes to judge people, then think about how we would be judged. Let me end with a quote of William Blake’s –“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water; and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

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Jibber jabber:

padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.

15 Comments

  1. October 4
    Reply

    Landed here via FB CBC page. Good article and nicely written. If we, as a species, are to evolve then we need to shed these misconceptions and be better.

  2. Ramya
    October 4
    Reply

    Well said Paddy !!!

  3. Hema Reddy
    October 4
    Reply

    Wow!!! perception unleashed 😉 nice article….was enjoying my reading 🙂

    • padhs2k
      October 5
      Reply

      Thank you Hema! Glad you liked it 🙂

  4. Archana
    October 6
    Reply

    Very nicely written, Padhma! You have so clearly outlined some of the major generalizations that we resort to. And you have made me introspect on every one of these points, nudging me to think more deeply about why we make such generalizations and what we can do to overcome them.

    As a society we are all guilty of various levels of generalization – some very subtle and almost subconscious, others quite blatant and open. The other day I was making a generalized statement to my husband – oh boys are a handful because they are so naughty (and slightly implying that girls are probably much easier to handle). How so wrong and untrue!!! I thought about what i said later and felt quite ashamed of myself 😛 I stereotyped openly without even being aware of it. Yes, I know there are biological and physiological difference between boys and girls, but that does’t mean I have the right to generalize, or attach negative connotations to either one. Please keep writing. I really love to read your articles 🙂

    There are a couple more generalizations that I would LOVE to add :

    1. Women love to / have to cook and clean and perform household duties (extension of what you said about “Women hate to give up their kitchen”): People argue that women should do it because “they are better at it.” (I know a few people in your previous post also said this). Yes, a lot of women are better at it — NOT because it is innate but because of experience. A majority of women cook and clean day in and day out, because they are taught that they should cook and clean and take care of the house. As with almost anything else in the world, with practice, they got better! If men are socialized into housework and they practice cooking and cleaning to the extent that women do, they will be equally good at it. I definitely know men who are amazing cooks and who can keep a house spot-clean!

    2. Men are not so good at caregiving for kids: Again, this might be more a result of socialization, less biological or innate. Yes, a woman might have certain biological qualities that might make her more responsive to a child’s need, but I think that’s a small part… a lot of it is also social conditioning and practice. We all know a woman’s hormones change during pregnancy and after having a baby – that enables a woman to bond with the baby and take care of his or her needs. But what we know now is that a man’s hormones change too — they change in a way that helps him bond and nurture the baby. Testosterone drops, oxytocin increases (and there are hundreds of other biological changes) — all these changes push a father towards being more emotional, caring and responsive to the needs of his baby. Unfortunately these biological signs are often ignored and squished by social upbringing. A lot of men (and women) think it is not “manly” to connect with babies at an emotional level or to care for them. Amazingly, fathers who nurture these changes and bond with their kids get as good at caregiving (if not better) than moms!!! I think men can be amazing caregivers. So many fathers love to bond with their babies, and have skin-to-skin contact after birth. I know men who would tell their wives to pump breast milk and store it in bottles just so they also can get a chance to feed their babies and bond with them, just the way women do. I know fathers who can change diapers, bathe babies and cuddle and love them just the way women do. And fathers who love to pick up kids after work, cook for them, clean up after them and care for them when they are sick. Yes, they are a minority, but I have seen it happen. Hats off to these amazing fathers!

    Again, thank you for sharing such deeply thought-provoking articles!

  5. Women hate to give up their kitchen – this is close to 90% true isn’t it???

    I have not come across one women who give up their kitchen

    I’m a husband and invariably have cooked many a meals, and almost all the times I have got brickbats from my wife for not keeping her kitchen up to order after the cooking. Give some slack.

    Same thing will happen if the man is the one who cooks and owns the kitchen. Believe me there are Indian houses where I have seen the man who owns the kitchen.

  6. Anu
    October 13
    Reply

    You spoke my feelings paddy. I also want to add that in marriages why they decorate us with all crappy jewelry and ask us to act that we are shy. Isn’t it silly

    • padhs2k
      October 14
      Reply

      In some marriages the brides love to adorn themselves with jewelry.:).I guess it depends on the bride too, in mine, I refused, come what may! 😀

  7. ANU
    October 15
    Reply

    Paddy you are a beautiful writer 🙂

    • padhs2k
      October 16
      Reply

      Thank you!

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