Male Gender RolesAs a man, I think society looks at me as if I am less of a parent than my wife or any woman. Those who know me also know that it is very important to me to be a good parent. Before my wife and I ever married, I told her that if we ever married and divorced that I would want joint custody and that I would be willing to fight for joint or full custody.
Even though I have a strong commitment to being a good parent, I am constantly asked questions and hear statements that reflect society’s view of men and parenthood. My personhood is lost:
“Your wife dresses your daughter very well.” When the kids are with me, I probably picked out their clothes and dressed them.
“You’re babysitting the girls today?” I do not babysit my own kids. Do women babysit their own kids?Such comments annoyed me so much that my wife had to get me a tee-shirt that reads: “Real fathers need no instructions.” I wear the shirt very proudly.
Furthermore, male sexuality is stunted and compromised by male gender roles. (I addressed this subject matter in my blog post Men are Bytches.) In the blog Queers United, the author shares how the media enforces the traditional male gender roles that stunt male growth: “MillerCoors a beer company marketing its Miller Lite brand has created two commercials that embraces sexist and transphobic ideas.” I will not lie: I had laughed at the commercials when first aired, but as of late, I have looked at them as sending out racialized, homophobic images of manhood, while using both men and women to reinforce the stereotypes.
Much of the violence perpetrated against the LGBTQ community stems from folk trying to maintain traditional gender roles. The above hyperlink connects you to a blog post that provides some discouraging statistics centered on hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. The author of the blog shares the following:
Violence against LGBT people, queer identifying and the same-sex attracted are actions which may occur either at the hands of individuals or groups, or as part of governmental enforcement of laws targeting people who are perceived to violate heteronormative rules and who contravene protocols of gender roles. People who are mistakenly perceived to be LGBT may also be targeted.
I know this to be true. As a heterosexual youth, I never wanted to be mistaken as a member of the gay or bisexual community. Now I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone on the planet thinks of my sexuality or the sexuality of those I love. (Did I use fuck again in my writing? I need a timeout. My youngest daughter will join me.)
One the other hand, growing up in New York during the beginnings of Hip Hop and a crack epidemic, I saw firsthand what it means to transgress traditional gender roles. I am guilty of creating a persona that was not authentic to protect myself from ridicule and violence.No one ever accused me of being gay or bisexual. My persona protected me. I hid the fact that I really wasn’t interested in playing sports too much and that I enjoyed reading and writing poetry, watched show tunes, cried at sad movies. I found that being my true self was too “soft” for my world. My brother reinforced such notions. My brother perpetrated violent acts against me with the hope of making me tough. He often said that my mother, a single parent, had made us too soft, so by giving me occasional beatings, he hoped that I would be able to protect myself against some of the pressures that he himself faced concerning being a man.
My youthful awkwardness with women, my brother’s “lessons” concerning manhood, and the strangeness of my true self to my community gave me the energy and anger to create a new me. I was respected as a drug dealer and angry man but not as a poet.
One the website entitled UN Women, I found the found the following information regarding women and gender (hyperlink above):
Women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty. Statistics indicate that women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets. Poverty implications are widespread for women, leaving many without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment. Being poor can also mean they have little protection from violence and have no role in decision making.
Women have been very vocal concerning the issues of gender and how they affect the lives we live. Having been raised by women and now rearing young women, I have had and still have a front row seat to many of the issues connected to gender and gender roles.
My oldest daughter hates dresses. She loves other things that are considered feminine: getting her hair done, wearing earrings, and wearing sweet smelling lotions and perfumes. She dreams of being a scientist or mathematician though, which have been historically considered man’s work. Nothing would give me greater joy than to see her kick ass and become one of the greatest scientific minds in the world (I might need another time out.) As a result, I am very protective of the person that she is becoming. As far as I am concerned, she never has to wear a dress again (Though she looks cute in them.)
My personal beliefs about gender roles are reflected in my coaching practice. A client of mine, Josey, came to me full of anger. She is an ambitious African American woman, educated, heterosexual, and recently divorced. Her job required her to be in charge and make tough decisions all day. I worked with her for a few months, and much of her anger subsided. However, she still held some anger that was connected to gender roles:
“I want to work on my feminine qualities some,” said Josey at the beginning of one of our meetings.
“Work on your feminine qualities? Can you tell me more?” I asked.
“I am not sure what to say. I just feel like I am not feminine enough sometimes,” she replied.
“Feminine enough for what?”
“For men. At my job.”
Josey was in turmoil because the role society gave her at birth didn’t quite fit with her real self. She wanted to create a persona to fit in better. She felt that a new persona would help her dating life and work life. I am the first to admit that much our true selves can be hidden in a persona. Additionally, our personas can be very successful for us. Contrarily, personas almost always crumble under some sort of pressure, and our true selves are exposed. Personas are ultimately more dangerous than good, for once our personas crumble and once we are left exposed, our fake worlds often crumble with our personas. Josey and I created plans to create a life that fit her true self instead of creating a fake life based on some constructed, unattainable image of what women are supposed to be.
As a result of my belief concerning gender roles, I never help clients create new personas to better fit it. If creating a new persona is what you want to achieve, then I am not be the right coach for you. If you want to create a new life that best fits your true self, then I am the perfect coach for you.
I still wish I could get as many people as possible, regardless of sexual orientation, to willingly find someone of the opposite sex and engage in a 69. As you both came, lips covered with cum, I think you'd realize that women and men are humans, nothing more, nothing less.
I am honored to serve you. For one complimentary coaching session, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.
Nwachi (Dr. T.) Tafari
Life and Sex Coach