Don't get me wrong here, I am not questioning our social expectations in the hope of creating a societal misconstruct or a revolution, because I do understand full well that we do need certain boundaries and expectations to operate as a well functioning and safe society. What I am saying however, is that some of the expectations, in particular those around gender roles, that are continually thrust upon us, are really not that reasonable or forward thinking, and yet we still willingly adhere and conform to them anyway.
For women, I think that one of the biggest and most incorrect presumptions that society has is the belief that they are all nurturing and have the potential to be great mothers. Anyone with half a brain in their head knows that this is absolute malarkey; however, even though we know that this is not true, the pressures that society places upon women to conform to this unspoken norm are ridiculously high.
When society views what they believe to be a mother that isn't maternal, motherly or nurturing, they instantly shun her. She is usually viewed as weak, unfeminine and generally a pretty lousy person. No point denying it, it's true, I've heard vicious women picking their teeth with the bones of 'not very good' mothers in school car parks, after school sporting activities and mothers groups; and I would feel more comfortable with the vultures on the savannah to be honest.
We can forgive women for many things, but as a society we are very unforgiving when it comes to motherhood, and in spite of all of our forward thinking, society still judges women that do not take to motherhood naturally very harshly. They are often branded with labels like 'bad' mother or called pathetic, dramatic and selfish. Women are probably the number one perpetrators of hate against un-maternal and un-nurturing women, and there is a frightening amount of pressure to conform when you become a mother. So much so, that a lot of women just crack under the pressure , and understandably so, it's bloody hard work! Not just being a decent enough mother to not get labelled 'bad' but also actually wrangling children, which at times is a dreadfully un-enjoyable business (just don't tell the other mothers that I said that).
However, it is not just women that have unrealistic expectations thrust upon them, men get more than their fair share as well. For men, I think that society fails most when it comes to the expectation that men are to be strong, brave and ambitious. Again, what a load of horse shit! Many men that I know are none of those things, and they are really lovely terrific guys, but they do feel pressured by society to conform to expectations all of the time.
From the time that boys are born, they are told to 'suck it up' and harden up. They are bombarded with media images of strong, smart, successful, brave and adventurous male icons that they are supposed to live up to and if they show too much emotion they are seen as weak and pathetic and sometimes called a sissy or god forbid, a girl. Young men feel like they need to constantly jostle for rank in order to be respected and fear being emasculated by their peers from as young as pre-school, and then we wonder why they become shut down men that are not in touch of their emotions later in life. Again, society says that it is forward thinking, but in some cases we are positively archaic in when it comes to gender stereotyping and expectation.
Sure we are making progress, but we really aren't there yet, and it is going to require the support of everyone in our communities to change these harmful and unreasonable expectations that we place upon ourselves and those around us, because these old ways are not serving us any longer. The next time that you almost call some woman a 'bad' mother or some guy a 'pussy' think again about whether you are helping or hindering a solution to the problems that we are all facing when it comes to gender expectations and social support. Choose to not label, choose to investigate the whys. Be a pro-active member of your community and start questioning the expectations that you place upon others, and whether you need to do that anymore.
Release Date: 2015
Running Time: 97 mins
Unfairly slammed by critics for being anti-feminist, which in my mind is a load of bullshit, this interesting and at times moving documentary discusses the ways in which males are raised in society today. Written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, The Mask You Live In premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and explores what Newsom perceives to be harmful notions about masculinity in American Culture.
Does today's narrow view on masculinity harm males as they are growing up? By examining the lives of various boys and men, this documentary attempts to uncover some of the reasons behind male behaviour in America.
I watched this documentary with my teenage son and he was extremely moved by the content and said that he felt that some of the issues raised in the movie were quite relatable. I can see why some people would think that this documentary is 'preachy' but there is a real message here about gender stereotyping and the pressures that are placed upon men to be strong and dependable, that cannot, and should not, be ignored. This documentary is not seeking to excuse poor male behaviour, but rather unearth it, so that we can prevent problems from occurring in the future.
This documentary should be watched in more high schools, not just in America but across the globe.
FINAL SAY: Seeing the behaviours and trying to understand them is not excusing them.
3 Chilli Peppers