Recently, social media blew up with the #metoo story, and women came forward and told their story of sexual harassment at the hands of men. The judgment seemed to be that these men were animals and harsh punishment is their just deserts.
I thought, in passing, about how sad it is that some men grew up that way, wrote a blog post about it, and didn’t think much more about it — until I cued up my web-based Christmas music list.
That’s when I noticed a couple of songs were making my skin crawl.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Have you really listened to the words in this song? This is a man that won’t stop until he convinces the woman to give him exactly what he wants. He’s not inclined to take no for an answer, and he doesn’t seem to be concerned about how either of them will feel about it in the morning!
Many women I know love this song! He’s so suave! It’s so sexy! And, as you can see in this video, it’s so cute when we have kids joining in!
What kind of message are we sending to men — especially our sons — when we swoon over this?
This is another song that I have sung along with without thinking. What’s the theme of this song? Using sexuality to convince Santa to fulfill all of my dreams.
Again, what message are we sending to the men and boys in our lives when we adore songs like this?
“I Have a Right to Feel Sexy”
Sure, I’ll give anyone that right. But, I have to question what anyone expects when they take that to the extreme of flaunting sexy. By definition, sexy includes attracting the sexual attention and arousing the sexual desires of others. We may think that we are trying to feel good, but we are sending messages as we do, and sending messages includes the possibility that they will be received incorrectly by people who are confused about boundaries and relationships. It may not be fair, but it’s real.
I also have to wonder if women who are demanding the right to feel and be sexy aren’t actually looking for something else. We, too, are drenched in the culture given us by movies, music, TV shows, etc. We, too, have been fed the idea all of our lives that being sexy enhances our value. I have to wonder if many of us aren’t so concerned about feeling sexy as we are feeling valued and respected, but we’ve been misled by cultural norms — just like the men.
Fixing the Problem
I was very touched when I discovered this talk because I noticed this a lot during my teaching career — boys and girls trying to figure out how their gender plays into where they fit in the world and finding that they have to deny parts of who they really are in order to be accepted. It’s going to be a long and difficult process, but now that we have begun to accept and celebrate the strength and intelligence of women and girls, it’s time to go back and nurture the process of men and boys being able to be open with their emotions.
While men and women are obviously different, it’s time to recognize, respect, and celebrate what we have in common and stop being so rigid with our gender stereotypes.
What is something you can do to help yourself and others overcome toxic cultural norms and create a world where we are all safe to be our authentic selves? Comment below.