Reflections on Workplace Perspective
On Saturday, March 14th’s edition of “Definitely Not The Opera” (CBC.ca), Sook-Yin Lee and guest host, Nick Purdon took a very thorough look at dumb guy stereotypes and male mocking focusing on this trend in advertising. Loved the show — extremely well done!
However, what I found troubling was how we accept our human limitations and rationalize how it is acceptable to repeat the destructive patterns of the past. Perhaps I am taking this tongue in cheek presentation too seriously; maybe it all just meant to be playful and humourous. BUT, what we say, in any form, and what we model is what we become.
Those interviewed during this show presented a number of arguments rationalizing why male mocking was not only acceptable, but necessary and represented a rational evolution of male-female relationships. Let’s take a look at what was said:
• For decades, women have been victimized (i.e., sex objects, lacking in intelligence or judgment) by the media for so long it is now man’s turn. They can take it; we certainly did for all those years! Ironically, most of the commercials mocking men are written by men.
• The culture of men has evolved from one of men being respected and recognized as the breadwinner and the backbone of the family to one of men being irresponsible and incompetent. So, this representation of man is simply a reflection of the current reality. So we paint all men with the same brush?
• The bashing of men is only temporary. Soon society will tire of man bashing and we will find someone else to satirize. Lucky them!
• We will continue to mock each other because it is programmed into our “reptilian brains”. Probably true, but a disappointing commentary on what men and women want their species to become. If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.
Only one interviewee spoke against these commercials. She said that this representation of men was in fact modeling future generations of young men and that the commercials suggested to young men that being irresponsible and incompetent was acceptable behaviour. This mother of two boys, wanted more for her boys. As any parent would, she wanted them to maximize their God given capacity in every way.
Ironically, the decision of advertisers to male bash has little to do with any of this argumentation. It’s really quite simple; advertisers see women as the front line purchasers in just about every area. They also know from psychology research that the best way to get women to buy their products is to stroke their self-esteem. And advertisers have decided that the optimal way to achieve this goal is mocking women’s mates, fathers, brothers and sons.
I will be the last person to suggest that men are perfect. I have learned from hundreds of career coaching diagnostics that each of us is an individual, that each of us has great capacity, a number of wonderful strengths and a comparable number of challenges that get in our way. I understand that relationships between men and women are difficult and that women in particular have been seriously scarred by the power that men and paternal cultures have exerted over them. I am not suggesting that we forget our history.
I am proposing that we learn from history and strive for a higher standard — one that will strengthen and model the nobility of men and women. The world and for that matter the workplace will only work optimally if men and women treat each other with dignity and work collaboratively.
“The world of humanity has two wings — one is woman and the other man”, says Baha’u’llah, prophet-founder of the Bahai faith. “Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible”. I think this reference puts everything in perspective.
Are you concerned about male mocking? Do you concur that we should strive for balanced relationships? What are some of the gender challenges in your workplace?