Do you know what I’m really sick to death of? The phrase, “typical male”. As a woman, I get a little fed up with gender stereotypes that categorise me as something I am not, and I know there are people out there who feel the same. I’m not a feminist, and I’m all for gender equality, but how can we be equal when, as women, we are subjecting men to the same kind of sexist classification?
I’ve heard many people call their husbands, sons, brothers or male friends a “typical male” and I can honestly tell you it has never been used as a term of endearment.
Maybe it is a generational thing: older women who have not had the privilege of living in a society where gender equality is well on it’s way to being a cultural norm may still be a little traditional in their approach to coffee conversation, where it’s all about the life of a desperate housewife who is not completely happy with herself therefore she projects negativity onto the things in her life that she holds closest (sorry – MAJOR generalisation there, but I think that type of identity has been where a lot of poor souls have been lost).
But then I think of the younger women who have spoken this over their husbands. Are they so immune to it from the women who have gone before them that they, too, must say “typical male” to accompany their nod towards their poor husband who has done something to displease them?
The other day I had coffee with a friend with whom I had never had coffee before, and she used this phrase a couple of times about her husband. I don’t know their relationship and I’ve met her husband once, so I’m not going to comment on the contexts in which she used this phrase, but it did get me thinking – what is a typical male?
In my experience, the contexts in which the phrase has been used have been when the male in question has done something (or not done something) that has, in turn, caused dissatisfaction in the eyes of the female. For example, a husband is asked to fold the washing. He does so, but rolls the fitted sheets rather than folding them properly (FYI, I chose this as an example because I do exactly that. I tend to roll – it’s way easier when faced with a toddler who throws the folded washing everywhere. Who even has time to fold them properly, anyway?). The wife then gets into conversation with her coffee bestie the next day, saying, “there’s no point in even asking Roger to help out anymore. Last night he rolled the fitted sheets, instead of folding them like my mother taught me. Typical male.”
I’m starting to think that there actually might be more of a “typical female” problem here, wherein all women do is sit around and whinge about their husbands not folding the washing properly. The women with whom I have spoken with and who have used the phrase “typical male” seem to have been consistently dissatisfied with anything their husband has done. I’m just going to point this back to the women here: SHE is dissatisfied with HIM. HE may not necessarily have done anything particularly dissatisfying, but it wasn’t up to HER standards.
To them, I would like to say this: give the guy a break! He works hard all day in a crap job where targets are unreachable and, just when he thinks he is about to reach said target, it is unexpectedly (but also, because he has become Pavlov’s dog, expectedly) pushed beyond belief. Whatever money he makes in this awful career goes towards three things: the house, bills, and you. Even if you have your own job, he is still working hard to support you and, in a lot of cases, the children. Okay, again I’m generalising a little bit, but I just needed to make that point. Some men really do love their jobs and the challenge of targets always being out of reach (pfft.)
My point is this. Maybe the “typical male” is only typical because our standards as females are out of reach (much like work targets). Maybe it’s only typical because we feel the need to be dissatisfied (or even pretend to be) in order to fit in to conversation over coffee.
Or maybe we’re just bored.
Whatever the reason, do you know what I think we should do? I think we should change the definition of “typical male”.
Maybe I’m naïve, or maybe I’m just incredibly blessed with my husband. But then I look at all the other men in my life – my father, brother, brothers-in-law, father-in-law – not one of them fall into this category. They are all hard working, strong men who would – and do – bend over backwards for their families.
In my little naïve world, a “typical male” comes home from work and cooks dinner, baths the children, cleans the kitchen and gets his wife a glass of wine because he knows that motherhood is the hardest job in the world.
My “typical male” spends his weekend working in the yard or fixing things or building things or completing the projects that I have either started or hassled him about all week.
My “typical male” is kind, thoughtful, generous, selfless, compassionate, and understanding.
Wow, I am blessed.
But, after thinking about what the difference is between my “typical male” and the next, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is all about us as women and how we respond to what our male counterparts do.
Our husbands – actually, I think just about everybody – can be likened to Pavlov’s dog. The more we bring our husbands/boyfriends/male friends/ male acquaintances down and categorise them into the negative connotation that the “typical male” phrase brings, the less likely it is that we will ever be satisfied with what they do.
I didn’t mean for this to be a brag post about my husband, but I’m not in the least bit sorry about it. I think that, with the way society is going and with women having a bigger voice, shouldn’t we be shouting about all the good things that men do?
If we want gender equality, we need to stop beating down our male counterparts so much.
I think it’s time we changed the definition of “typical male”.