Monday, January 4, 2010

Gender-ism

A few weeks ago, the husband and I were discussing why he has such a bad attitude about women in general. He loves me very much and is usually a wonderful husband (I won't say always because hey, none of us is wonderful all the time), but sometimes he says things about women in general that are hateful, untrue, and unkind. They apply very much to the women he knew when he was younger, but I honestly didn't think they went for the bulk of our society.

When I approached him about it, I was pretty upset at something he'd said, which I now honestly cannot remember. I wasn't very patient or gracious about it and told him I didn't like the example of misogyny that he was setting for our son, who would grow up to be like him and hate women (let alone our daughter, who may think men hating women and treating them horribly is okay). I said a couple of other rude things, and he was not pleased. He said I often do the same about men.

I don't believe I do about men in general, maybe one or two in particular, but have been watching my actions, attitude, and language, so I don't teach inadvertently either of our children to hate either gender.

So this morning, we were at the doctor's office (the husband has a bad sinus infection), and they put Mary Poppins on for Little Mister to watch while we waited. I thought, "Oh, I like that movie a lot! I should get it out of the garage and watch it with Little Mister ... " And then the "Sister Suffragettes" song came on, sung by Mrs. Banks. One line in particular really bothers me, though I used to laugh and laugh at it. It's been going through my head all day.

"Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid."

What on earth? I mean, I understand the time period and all that, but this is a movie children love and watch a lot. Kiddo watched it almost every day for a month or two when she was younger.

At the end of the song, Mrs. Banks finds out the children are missing and she acts like she's afraid of her husband, who is an arrogant jerk, but she is subservient, silly, and weak. What is that teaching our kids?

I know these same stereotypes are portrayed in TV today. Or the opposite -- a brow-beaten husband controlled by a domineering wife. For a country so hung up on "equality," gender-ism is still perhaps one of the few acceptable prejudices to have.

I don't know. Maybe I'm overreacting. I'm not to the point of disconnecting the cable (I'd miss the Food Network a lot) or getting rid of all of our movies, but it is making me think more about what we put in our brains through all forms of media.

So readers, any thoughts on this?

5 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I think that stereotypes will always be out there.

I work with a lot of teenage boys who hate women. But they usually had a negative experience with their mom or something. We always sechedule them with our male therapist.

evitafjord said...

I think that this is one of those objectionable things on TV/movies that you can turn into a teaching moment (as opposed to sex or violence). Just take the opportunity to point out the problem and learning to identify it and also teach that TV isn't real life (especially in the shows that do kind of appear like real life), then I think it will work out just fine.

Unrelated, kind of - we watched My Sister's Keeper with the kids last night. It was really, really sad and I debated not letting them watch it, but then decided it would be good for them to see and to see our reactions to it. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and enjoyed watching it with them - except Josh and Sam who were totally uninterested and loud.

The Boob Nazi said...

I don't even know what to do/say anymore about these issues.

Tyson and Katie said...

I've watched that movie a million times and I've never noticed that line in the song. :)

stewbert said...

Thanks for the input.

Kristina, the husband also sees a male therapist for the same reasons.

EF, I decided to ask kiddo about it, whether she ever heard the line or remembered it. She didn't, but it was a good teaching moment. We talked about how much life sucked for women before, and she said she's glad she wasn't born then. lol.