I recently took my first course towards my Master’s in Women’s Studies. The course topic was the Politics of Motherhood. “Politics” and “motherhood” are two terms I’ve never used together before. We touched on socio-economic issues, government involvement in parenting, welfare, the influence nannies have on a family and every other possible topic you could imagine.
I felt like a very small fish. I had many opinions on several topics but felt stifled when wanting to express them in class. I seemed to be at the opposite end of the spectrum when it came to women’s issues. I’m guilty of using the caning-worthy statement, “I’m a feminist, but…” I have found it to be useful, perhaps safer, in some situations. I have never seen so many enlarged pupils when I tell people I’m a feminist AND I began a master’s program on the topic. The truth is, I am a feminist, kind of. I am aware of the economic differences between men and women, and I’m red-hot mad about them. I realize that women are sometimes forced to take certain jobs because of the likelihood they’ll cater to the demands of motherhood. Ever noticed why there are so few male teachers? (The stigmas placed on male teachers is a whole other topic.) However, I’m also a masculinist. I believe men experience some of the same pitfalls as women. While they’re not entirely the same or even as harmful to society, I believe they are prevalent and just as important.
There’s an Electrolux© commercial starring Kelly Rippa. The company is marketing towards women, obviously, by casting a female and using the “I Dream of Jeannie” soundtrack as the background music. Apparently, the company has a washer and dryer set that makes being a woman a snap! Kelly Rippa’s character has time for cooking, cleaning and catering to her husband when she uses the new induction range and front load washer with wave-touch controls. Needless to say, the media still depicts women in the domestic realm more often than in any other role. Women are shown in the same light as they were 50 years ago, despite the ever-changing roles they play in modern society. However, this is true for men as well. Ever see a man in a commercial for a cleaning product?
There is a modern version of the American family that is not shown in the media. Men are not always doctors, lawyers and CEO’s. However, when they choose to take a different professional route, say – becoming a nurse, the very nature of the profession is questioned. We all know women can’t be doctors, they have to be the nurse. But, when a man becomes a nurse, he is a sell-out or a sissy. Society calls him a male-nurse. Does Robert DeNiro’s character in “Meet The Parents” ring a bell? His attitude towards Greg’s job? Even the plot summary on IMDB calls Greg a male nurse. The very reason society feels it’s necessary to add male to the job title comes from the automatic assumption that nurse means female. Society is changing but our thought patterns aren’t.
*According to Minority Nurse, men make up just under 6% of the entire nursing population.
If people are trying so hard to change the way the world is and how society treats people, why is the media refusing to accurately depict the very changes being made? Men are staying home to take care of the kids more and more. Women are CEO’s and CFO’s of major corporations worldwide. Some households don’t have two parents. The American family has shifted from Leave it to Beaver to something entirely different, but you would never know it by turning on the TV or looking in a magazine.
While I think the media is somewhat evolving, the pace at which it is moving is not up to par. I want to see a man in a washer & dryer commercial, a woman leading a business meeting and a two-mom household on TV. When these images are shown on TV, I don’t want it to come as a shock to my five-year old nephew.
A few examples of the REAL American life…