Sunday, September 11, 2011

Men-bashing and being the mother of sons

I grew up repeating jokes about men. The "men suck" mantra often escaped my lips in some form or another. Whether I had any specific reason to be angry at a particular example of the male gender or not, I can't recall. It simply seemed like something women do - we bitch about men. After all, they're annoying, chauvinistic, often stupid and don't understand women at. all.

And then I had a son.

Suddenly those man jokes didn't seem so funny. Memories of my junior high friend joking, "Kill 'em all and let God sort them out," didn't seem nearly as hilarious as it had when I was 14 (and why were we joking about "men" when we were 14?). All those male-bashing quips, which at one point seemed designed to bond women together in our quest for freedom from male domination (or something?)... they suddenly seemed so wrong as I looked into the eyes of my precious baby boy.
There, in my arms, was a boy. A tiny little human being who will one day become a man. One of "them". To many women of this day and age (whether they admit it to themselves or not), the enemy. How can I make such callous male-bashing jokes about my own son? Because he will be one of them, a man grown, and the very subject of such hateful jokes.

He is my son.

It made me rethink how I talk about men. Sure, I have moments where I'm annoyed with my husband and I think, "He's such a GUY!" But usually I'm frustrated because we're not seeing eye to eye and it's probably an issue we've clashed over before and my first instinct is to blame it on the fact that he doesn't think like I do because he is a man. But the, "all men suck" mantra? It feels so incredibly wrong. My little men do not, in fact, suck. Quite the opposite and I do not believe that it is an inevitable conclusion that as men, they will. It is my sincere hope and belief that my sons will grow up to be good men. Good men who love God, love the people around them, and treat others with respect and kindness. Do I think they are now or ever will be perfect? Of course not, I am not delusional. But I do believe in the existence of good men (I know quite a few of them) and I think my boys have great potential to be among them - great men who are not deserving of the kind of half-joking, but half-serious male bashing that is so common among females in our culture.

So next time someone is laughing it up with their girlfriends and bashing on men, think for a moment whether your son, your nephew, your best friend's child, your cousin or your grandson... even your brother or your father... deserve it. And what does it say about us that we so callously berate the men in our lives, even in supposed jest.

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