When reading this recent post on CNN’s The Chart I started thinking about men and boys in a new light. CNN’s article was about some new research suggesting that testosterone levels in men has decreased in recent decades. They also mentioned that male birth rates have been declining in some populations. The authors speculated that environmental exposures might be the reason. What I started thinking was: how is American culture and media affecting men and boys?
I am a woman and I have daughters, so I typically think and write about how the world is affecting females. But that is pretty one-sided of me. Just as important to societal health is how men and boys are being portrayed in the media and treated in real life. We’ve all heard about ADHD and autism being more prevalent in boys, and the current educational system being more conducive to female rather than male minds. But what I am focused on is how pop culture is portraying the roles of men. And it isn’t pretty.
I’m thinking of the lunchmeat (or was it cellphone?) commercial where the woman is making lunch. She yells for her male mate to come to the table. She calls him multiple times to come to kitchen with no luck. Finally she resorts to texting him a picture of his waiting sandwich. Seeing it, he quickly comes to the table to eat. Just like a hungry dog. Is this really the type of male partner we want our boys (and girls) to see? One that responds only when his most basic needs are being met? Why not show the couple working together as a team to make lunch while having a smart discussion? For a list of more male-bashing commercials check out AskMen.com’s Top Ten List.
When I’ve talked to other folks about this phenomena, I’ve been reminded of the many TV programs that portray men as bumbling, selfish, and irritable people. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and even Friends have done the men and boys in our lives a disservice. What role models are we giving our boys to look up to? Where are the strong, smart, capable, and responsible males being highlighted and celebrated?
I am on the lookout for strong male figures in our culture. Ideas?