There are bits and pieces of the female stereotype I embrace. I genuinely want to be warm and nurturing, but I never consciously worked to develop those qualities. I assumed I didn’t need to; that they were innate. Instead, I worked hard to reject the parts of the stereotype I didn’t like and develop qualities I didn’t think came preprogrammed with my gender. I wanted to become: strong, assertive, capable and I worked hard to become so.
Imagine my surprise when upon the birth of my children, I found I wasn’t nearly as warm and nurturing as I expected I would be. “Wait, what?! I actually have to work on developing these qualities? How come no one thought to tell me this before I had children?”
Perhaps they did and I didn’t listen. That wouldn’t surprise me.
What’s interesting to me now is that as I’m watching my four sons grow, I can see they don’t just embrace bits and pieces of the male stereotype. They embrace the WHOLE DANG THING. There is nothing more flattering to a growing boy than to call him a “man” and there is nothing more insulting than to tell him he is not a “man”. I can’t see anything that they reject and are working hard to counter.
This begs the question: what qualities will my young men fail to develop because they believe they already possess them as a byproduct of their gender?