Tag Archives: men

Strengthening Gender-Based Relationships

It is time for another “Craig’s Top Five List”.  On Monday, we looked at male mocking with the conclusion that perhaps we would be wise to strive for a higher standard in the way we approach gender-based relationships.  Here are a few suggestions:

Rufino Tamayo 'Man and Woman' 1926, Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rufino Tamayo 'Man and Woman' 1926, Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  1. Acknowledge our differences: I am saying this as though it has never been voiced before, in the history of humanity.  Of course, the exact opposite is true — it is hard to get through a day without some exasperated soul  needing to exhale this sentiment.  Clearly, you don’t know what you don’t know and under this condition, any form of growth is impossible.  Otherwise stated, awareness is a prerequisite for change.
  2. Accept our differences: By now I am sure you have figured out that difference is code for what I don’t like, don’t understand and cannot accept about “them”.  Since each gender represents fifty percent of humanity it may make sense to try something different; let’s face it —  How is your current pattern working for you?  Not so good?
  3. Stop the Veiled Criticism: There is something unifying about being able to share your frustration with those holding down membership in your gender club.  Somehow, if they share your angst, it affirms the view that you’re not crazy.  And if you are really courageous, you allow these whimsical commentaries on the other sex to slip out while they are present.  After all, “its just a joke;  I don’t really mean it.  I am so tired of this politically correct stuff, aren’t you”? you offer to your membership.  Well, if it smells like a dead fish and it looks like a dead fish, its probably a dead fish.
  4. Celebrate our strengths: Once we get past the frustrating parts of male-female relationships, we can rejoice in what we value in each other.  We need to acknowledge reality –that we are attracted to each other for reasons other the physical; for example, passion, intelligence, courage, sensitivity, calm, creativity and so on.  Its the  deeper issues that truly define who we are.
  5. Treat Each Person as an Individual: If we can treat each person as unique, then we override the stigma of gender or for that matter any other way of classifying humanity.  The more we choose to slice and dice humanity, the more we will frustrate our goal of unifying the human species.

I have just completed reading an amazing book entitled “Change”, based upon the principles of brief therapy.  Clearly, surface or simple change is possible; however other forms of change demand more sophisticated solutions.  More on this in a later post.

And that is the issue!  Change is a difficult challenge.  Can you see this prescription working?  How are things in your workplace?

Male Mocking: Deserved and Necessary?

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?