A couple times, now, I have blogged on the fact that, since I was very young, I didn't really fit the standard...let's watch boxing...macho stereotype. I have been sensitive and caring, since I was very young...empathetic and creative and cultured and artistic. Anyone that has known me as known this is how I am, and they appreciated am ear to hear them and REALLY listen and relate.
It is how my wife has known me and is one reason that she likes me, even as I am...the same with my kids. HOWEVER, that has not stopped the subject of this blog from happening....STEREOTYPES....even among them or among my friends.
What do I mean? Let me give you just a few examples.
Often times, I face situations where I am home from work, and my kids won't share their day with me, because they think that I am not interested. I was at work, all day, and they figure that I am only interested in work, so they share their days with my wife. The problem is that I WANT to hear those things, much more than work.
Then, there is times that they are afraid to share things with me that they fear or ways that they failed. Why? Because, they think that I am going to be angry and punish them for it.
Do they have experience in EITHER of these things with me? No. In fact, they have experience to the contrary, where I asked about their day or offered to help them. However, they assume this, because...I MUST be that way....as a "man."
I can give one example at my last employer that illustrates the problem with employers, though it is not unique to that employer. I came into my managers office and was telling her that I was planning to leave the company. When she was asking me why, I explained that the promises that the overtime hours would go away didn't happen, and, instead, I found myself more and more away from my family. The manager asked to have time to work out a solution for me. I agreed.
A few weeks passed, and the manager called me back in and said I would be happy. I was expecting help on the desk and less hours at work, and she said that she had talked to her boss and had agreed to pay me MORE for the same level of work I was doing and more than that if I did more work. You see...she ASSUMED that ....as a "man" that my priority was MONEY, not family.
I said that my wife liked this about me, and that is true. However, I cannot count the number of times that I have had to...and STILL have to....deal with stereotypes by her about myself. It's not her fault...that is how society tells her I would be. So, she wants to help, and she offers to make more money or give me a coffee on the way out the door or massage my shoulders, when they are sore. I appreciate all o these things...a lot.
However, the problem isn't that I want support in my difficult days....I don't want difficult days. It's not so much that I want appreciation (though that is nice), it's that I want to be given gifts and complements and to be listened to when I hurt...heard out in my struggle. However, the fact that I am struggling often makes her feel that she failed me, and it becomes about whether I appreciate what she is doing, more than what I am feeling.
I don't blame her for this...you see...that is how women are PROGRAMMED to feel about me...as a MAN I am judging and blaming others, even if I am not. She has to circumvent an entire society to understand me, and that is difficult.
And, THAT IS THE POINT...of this blog. THIS is why stereotype breaking matters. Not everyone fits a perfect little box, and when we tell the world that THIS is how men are or women are or whatever, it can have long lasting and fictional interference in otherwise very happy lives.
If we would all just say...Hi I am a new species called KEN, judge me only by me, then I think the whole world would be a much happier place.