Life

Do I Have a Sexist Son?

Why do women get married in white?
So they match the kitchen appliances!

What is the difference between a battery and a woman?
A battery has a positive side.

Why did the woman cross the road?
Wait, better question, why is she out of the kitchen!?

Why don’t women wear watches?
There’s a clock on the stove.

These are the kinds of jokes GD has been telling lately.

Now, my panties aren’t so far up my crack that I get totally out of shape when he makes these jokes, but after a while?

Enough is enough.

I explain, of course, that these jokes are inappropriate and that women are just as capable as men in nearly every aspect of life (and when I say nearly, I mean they can’t impregnate other women, so again, relax).

And that men are JUST as capable of performing “womanly” duties – stay home, take care of the house, care for the children, cook, sew, etc.

In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that my husband is a WAY better cook than I am.

But I suppose it still irritates me that we still have gender roles to begin with. Since when did it become the mother’s job to take care of the kids? She didn’t have them by herself. The men are just as responsible. Since when did it become the man’s job to make sure the lawns mowed? Women are just as capable of getting out there and mowing the grass (though I don’t – because I’m spoiled. But I COULD. That’s my point. *grin*).

I KNOW GD is joking. I KNOW he doesn’t really think of women like this, that he and his buddies are just having some fun. And he’s trying on the whole “male” persona by trying to act all manly and tough and he’s struggling to find his “role” in humanity as a whole.

And before any of you get bent of out shape, don’t call the kettle black. I’m sure teenage girls are making just as many disparaging remarks about the guys – it’s a double-edged sword after all. Heck, I did it when I was that age. In fact, I still do it when I’m feeling irritated with my husband or my sons (I’m SURROUNDED by testosterone. I can’t breathe sometimes).

And please don’t lecture me about “Well, it starts as a joke and then it becomes an attitude and before you know it, women are right back where we started before the whole women’s movement … ” blahblahblah.

We have to lighten up on this whole thing. Truly. I think it’s important to teach my son the difference between when and where those jokes are “funny” (and I have to admit, some of them are), and when they are not and that in the long run, they really are insulting to women as a whole and how would he feel if someone pushed him into a stereotypical box and treated him as such? (The whole geek/nerd persona – see? Just typing those words and you already have a picture in your mind).

It’s all about empathy, really. Looking at a different perspective, trying on different gender shoes.

So, I treat the jokes as that – jokes. Granted, BAD jokes, but they are simply nothing more than his way of testing my reaction, to see how far he can push the son/mother, male/female boundary.

I’ve nagged lectured patiently explained that women, in general, do not like these kinds of jokes and that if he continues to tell them, or continues to harbor that attitude, he’ll be a very lonely, old man.

And I want grandchildren, dang it.

But I’m truly not worried about the boy; I know, in my gut, he doesn’t really think this way.

He’s just trying to get my attention. Which, in some ways, I think men who make sexist remarks to women are just trying to do. I’m not saying this is a GOOD strategy, in fact, it has quite the opposite effect, quite frankly, but why else would a man even GO down that road nowadays when he knows it’ll A. get him slapped, B. get him sued, or C. both?

In fact, let me go out on the limb just a bit further and say, perhaps men make those snide, sexist remarks in an attempt to regain their masculinity? Because in a lot of ways, I think men have been emasculated and belittled so much over the years, that they truly don’t know HOW to act anymore. If they act like a man, they’re perceived as an asshole. If he acts more sensitive to a woman’s needs, he’s labeled a sissy.

Seriously, how can they win? Where exactly do they fit into this whole gender package?

So, in a way, I can understand why men make sexist jokes. And I’m hoping my understanding, or my willingness to empathize with the men and see how it is on their side of the fence, will translate over into my teaching GD that those sexist jokes? Are really so much more about trying to put women in their place, but perhaps, they are a way for him to find his place in a precarious gender mine field.

The final question is: Do I think I have a sexist son? No. I think I have a young man who’s testing the gender waters and finding they may be just a bit too hot for him to jump into at this point in his life.

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4 thoughts on “Do I Have a Sexist Son?”

  1. This is a really insightful post. I would say that if he is only 15, he has loads of time to learn about what is appropriate and funny, before you can worry that he is sexist. I wonder how much culture has an impact- my husband laughed at the first two of your jokes. But he is from a very traditional Latin American culture and his mom is pretty traditional. So he was raised in an environment where women were in the kitchen and didn’t mow the lawn. Thus, he sometimes forgets that I didn’t grow up in the same culture and thus don’t instinctively think my role is “dora” (lavadora/cocinadora cleaner/cooker). It’s a touchy subject sometimes and it opens up a big huge can of worms if not dealt with, so I agree with JayMonster- good for you for talking to him about it now.

  2. No, you don’t have a sexist son… but the only reason is because of you.

    It is unfortunate. He got these jokes from a friend… a friend that probably heard them from a father, or uncle, and left unchecked (unlike you did), these will fester into tomorrow’s sexists as the roles just go on perpetuating themselves.

    Good on you for not going overboard and just winding up appearing “too uptight” to your son, but also for setting him straight, as he will understand that just because it is a “joke” doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt the person that it is making fun of.

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