The Notebook is getting to the final scene. Her hair is swaying in the wind in the most Dorothy-like way, your eyes are glistening over as emotions intertwine and interact inside you. You watch as they come in to embrace and you have to battle-ram the tears away. Magical, right? But then you realise, you start nervously looking around, no one must catch you: see you. Too late. The words are already being formed in their mouths, “That’s wet fam.”
The media has conditioned our brains to make us feel that, as a man, you can’t portray emotions. Well, unless you’re willing to say you’re gay. This kind of thinking is toxic, and it leaves many men feeling insecure about themselves and their emotions. 87% of men feel uncomfortable saying they found a film upsetting. These sort of emotions are not pathetic, and we must not be led to believe they are.
Now, has this ideology always been present; existing since the dawn of time? Or has the media just engineered these conceptions for their own benefit?
Every time I turn the TV on I notice the three men of Hollywood: the Macho Man, the Sensitive Best Friend and the Professional Guy.
The ‘Macho Man’ is the embodiment of masculinity, probably doing some sort of job which involves occasionally having to rip his shirt off. He’s mean, cool and that’s why all the ladies drool. This image is portrayed in anything from box-office blockbuster to an ad about apples. This idea seeps into the minds of men, making them feel overwhelmingly self-conscious. Many argue that women get more self-conscious than men, but the main difference is that if a women get’s emotional about her appearance the backlash isn’t as strong against them. Strike One.
The ‘Sensitive Best Friend’, while naturally placed to be the ‘good guy’, generally shows a gay character. This sends out direct and damaging signals to the public that a straight guy can’t be sensitive. The media has fuelled this as it nicely fits in with their equalities acts, which state that shows need to demonstrate more ‘diversity’. Strike Two.
The ‘Professional Guy’ is lucky, they’ve completed life, acquired a well-paid job, smart suit and become the ready-made husband, creating an idealistic dream of who women should aspire to be with. In fact, half of ‘female-orientated’ shows are about which girl can get this man. This man is more Gucci than Lynx in adverts and is always an impossibly perfect standard which guys can’t reach. Bring on the self-esteem issues. Strike Three.
I usually get asked about the role of the media in stereotyping women but rarely get asked about men, it’s why we miss out on good male nurses, primary teachers and nanny’s.
Sitcoms portray the father figure as being constantly outwitted by the mother. The father makes stupid mistakes and is sometimes forbidden from entering the kitchen. But he can fix things and bring home a pay check—because that’s what really counts, right?
This image is even portrayed in cartoons watched by little kids, and then you complain in 20 years time when they refuse to cook. No pasta for you, mate.
So what can we do to remove these scarring stereotypes, perpetuated by our malevolent media?
Firstly, we must accept that gender discrimination in the media works both ways and that it affects men as well as women. Secondly, we must as a society stand up to it and not accept the social conventional norms forced down our throats.
Finally? Well, that’s up to you to decide.
By Ife Grillo