Stereotypes: Alive and Well
iVillage has what's <A href="http://love.ivillage.com/lnsunderstandmen/whathedoes/0,,askmen_c53n5qnz-2,00.html">supposed to be a humourous article</a> on things men don't do, but should. And, initially, at least, it's kind of cute and harmless fun. In regards to clipping coupons, for example, they suggest that men should be more willing to search out bargains in the local papers and flyers because it's not that hard to do and, besides,
And besides, the more you save on things like groceries, the more you can spend on beer and electronics.
True, it's humour based on a stereotype - that men like beer and electronics - but in general, that's not a harmful stereotype - it isn't derogatory, nor does it minimize what men are capable of. When talking about why men should go to the doctor more, however, the article crosses that line when it says:
Why we should: Stupid pride and fear can keep you from spotting and eradicating small problems before they become serious. Besides, hitting on nurses is fun.
While the "humour" here is based on the idea that men like to hit on women any chance they can, it unnecessarily demeans nurses in general by indicating that hitting on them is not only something guys might do - but being able to do it is a *good* reason to go to the doctor. They mean it as a joke, and I realize that, but nurses often have a hard time being taken seriously as medical professionals to begin with, and implying that hitting on them is acceptable just adds to that misimpression.
Nurses aren't glorified steno girls from a 1960's secretarial pool (not to say it was OK to hit on those girls, either, but - regrettably - it was considered socially acceptable.) They have had to undertake a lot of training to earn their credentials and they need to keep up on their education to keep their certification. Nurses are also critical to a patient's care, since the nurses will have a lot more contact with the patient than the doctor does.
I know when I was in the hospital a couple years ago, my nurses were also my advocates. I would see my doctor for maybe 15 minutes a day - if that - but each nurse would be on shift for between 4 and 12 hours at a time, and those nurses were the ones tracking my vitals, making note of when I requested pain medication, and watching for any indications or patterns that would indicate that something was going wrong or that I needed a different course of treatment. When I couldn't get the doctors to understand things, the nurses would often intervene and help the doctor see what I was saying.
So, to suggest men should go to the doctor's more often because he can "hit on the nurses" is highly insulting, and it diminishes the importance that a nurse can have in the patient's care - not to mention the fact that more and more men are becoming nurses!
The article then goes on to become rather insulting to the men it's supposedly offering advice to, by saying that men don't follow recipes, read manuals, maintain their "stuff," or do their own laundry because - essentially - they're too lazy to. Much of this material is really demeaning to men in general, because it does nothing but reinforce the stereotype men as the lazy, slothful, self-interested louts we see far too often in the "comic best friend" in romantic comedies (or, in some cases, as the leading man, as in "Knocked Up".)
Why don't men check for expired food in their refrigerators, even though the refrigerator smells awful?
Because grocery shopping, like doing the laundry, is often a royal pain the ass, we're often speeding through it and unfocused. It also doesn't help that most of us are preoccupied with the idea of picking up women at the supermarket.
Why don't they want to engage in foreplay?
The equipment is there for a reason, so why postpone the inevitable? I mean, how many appetizers can you sample before the main course? This is especially true for those nights when you're tired, and all you want to do is get on with the show.
("Get on with the show?" They may it sound like men consider sex - in general - a chore, like yardwork or something....)
And then, there's the piece de resistance:
12. Learn to Act Oblivious to Big Breasts
At this point in our lives, the sight of big breasts should not be such a big deal. Let's face it: even excluding personal experience, most men have been inundated with images of breasts. So what's the big deal? You'd think that by now, we'd be so used to it that it would barely register. Why does the sight of large squeezers completely paralyze us, even for that brief moment?
Why we don't: Because they're breasts and they're big... a certain respect is due, after all, especially when you consider how often we daydream about them.
Why we should: Even smaller breasts deserve attention. And frankly, the power large breasts hold over us is starting to give men a bad name. Remember, in the battle of the sexes, we must reveal no weaknesses.
Notice that NO WHERE in there does it say anything about the bearer of the breasts deserving attention! Again, yes, I see that humour is intended, but - especially since iVillage is supposedly a web community for women - its kind of hard to find it too amusing.
Maybe I expect too much, but it seems to me that now that we're in the 21st century, maybe old stereotypes need to fall by the wayside?
Yeah, I'm not holding my breath on that one, either.