JJ Vincent notes that some people like stereotypical men, and what’s good for him might be a deal breaker for you.
If you go to any number of dating websites, you’re generally given some lists to choose traits that you are looking for in a mate. There’s one for physical, one for personality, one for interests, one for dislikes, maybe a few more for income, politics, faith, favorite toilet paper, preferred brand of bottled water.
You look at these lists and wonder why on earth ANYONE would want someone with half of those personality traits.
Someone else is looking at the same list and click on everything that makes you cringe.
Because as much as we’d like to think otherwise, good and bad are subjective, and some of the stereotypical male behaviors and postures that we fight against are catnip to some people.
So who, then, should we be? Who should we cultivate our sons to be? Can we even predict that?
While one little boy is banging together pot lids and singing about dinosaurs to his beaming mother, who loves his creativity, her best friend is silently calling him a noisy brat. While one boy is racing himself in circles around the yard until he’s exhausted and his dad is fretting about him hurting himself because he is “delicate”, the track coach across the street is counting the days until little Tommy is varsity-ready. Joey and Caleb and Ricky are frosting cupcakes, getting more on themselves than the treats. The babysitter is fretting about the mess and trying to keep them clean, wondering why they are being such monsters, when their dads come home, start laughing, and let Caleb smear their faces with blue buttercream.
For even the smallest of children, everyone has an opinion of how they should or should not behave, based on their own upbringing, experiences, education, fears, dreams, delusions. He should not be so loud, he should be more outgoing, he shouldn’t draw so much, he needs to spend more time with books and less time playing baseball, he ‘s too aggressive, he’s too shy. he’ll make a great leader, he scares the other children because he plays too rough, the other boys love him because he’ll get dirty. These kids start out navigating in a world of mixed messages, with some people embracing who they are, others trying to change them, others trying to mold them into their own ideal of the perfect person.
Fast forward 20 years.
People, for better or worse, still like what they like. For every woman out there that wants a man who cries when the dog dies at the end of the movie, there is a woman who is scornful of this and just wants a man who is emotionally stoic. For every woman who wants a man who will take control, be in charge, and make the decisions, there’s one who wants an equal partner, or someone who will take their instructions from her. For every man who wants a man who is artistic, gentle, intelligent, and fashionable, there is a man who just wants someone big and rugged who will go hunting and shooting and eat beef jerky during the football game. For ever guy who wants his geeky equal, there’s another guy who wants to own geek trivia, and doesn’t want his mate to upstage him.
To be sure, I think there are some behaviors that we can generally agree are not good. Violence, abusive language, substance (including alcohol) abuse, things that actively cause harm to himself or others, people who are looking for that may need help.
But some of the more mundane things that get complaints-spending all day watching sports, puttering endlessly in the garage, staying out with friends too late-are just fine with those who value a few uninterrupted hours for themselves.
I’m a big proponent of, “As long as you’re not hurting anyone, be who you are, do what you want.” But I’ll admit, a lot of what men are and do makes me cringe. It’s hard to bite your tongue when someone is doing something that makes your teeth clench. But if I want to keep my glittery toes and penchant for singing along with the radio, I have to cut some slack for those guys who would never wear a necklace or be caught dead doing their best “Jimi Hendrix” or “Foreigner”.
And I wonder, how many of them who are the “archetypal males” are doing this because they think they are supposed to? How many of them are just going through the motions of masculinity because they don’t know how to be any other way?
How many of them don’t KNOW that there is another way?