Monday Musings: Men!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I find myself thinking about men constantly.

As a mother of two young boys, I look at the men around me at coffee shops, on the street, at a restaurant and wonder about the paths that took them from sweet little boys who babble about trains; to teenagers with likes and dislikes and t-shirts proclaiming as much; to young adults with facial hair, caffeine needs, romantic entanglements. There are so many avenues from point A to point B, it's sometimes amazing that we, as mothers, all started out at the same place, growing these little guys inside of us.

Like many others, I used to scoff at simplistic gender scripts, like "boys will be boys" and the like. But then I had boys. And, as much as I would prefer to add nuance versus bromide to the age-old gender wars, I could not with a straight face say anything but: There are intrinsic, inherent differences between a 1 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. Or, ahem, boys will be boys.

Which makes me often revisit much of what I thought I held in such strong belief about men. And women. And how we relate to each other. If I really believe that there are intrinsic differences at birth, do I think they go away over time? I have never read "Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus." Despite the multivarious studies that conclude that men communicate differently from women, I refuse to chalk up disagreements I have with my husband to anything other than our own personalities and circumstances. But I do wonder: Am I kidding myself?

This post on the Motherlode really got me thinking. Entitled "Are All Moms Mad At Dad," it chronicles the seemingly ubiquitous phenomenon of--well--mothers seething with anger about their husbands. When a joke becomes an anecdote becomes a phenomenon based on gender lines, you have to wonder whether there is just something fundamental in our make-ups as men and women that is causing this.

Now that I will soon be adding a girl to my testosterone-filled home, I wonder anew about gender stereotypes, boys and girls, men and women and how they interact. Will my husband treat the little girl differently than our two boys? Will he wrestle with her in the same way he rough-houses with our boys? Will his views of fatherhood change--and will mine?

I have more questions than answers.

Why do so many of us thank our husbands when they watch the kids?
Why do so many men refer to watching their kids as "babysitting"?
Why are there so many jokes about fathers who are overprotective of their daughters while handing out "atta boys" to their sons?

What happens between marriage and parenthood, and why are women so angry about it?
Why has male-bashing essentially become an Olympic sport?

Where do our husbands' paternal instincts come from?
Who do our husbands look up to as examples of "good dads"?
Why can boys watch sports for days?

When in doubt: Go to the source, no? Next week, boys are taking over the blog. Every day, two men in different phases of their dating, married, parenting lives will be giving you a glimpse into their male minds. Hope you'll gather your gender stereotypes, pop open a Budweiser, put your hand down your pants and enjoy...!
Neesha said...

Great idea--can't wait to read. And take notes...!

aparna said...

I think about men constantly too. But in a different way. Haha.

Anonymous said...

I read the Motherlode piece last week and felt really bad, mostly because I recognized so much of myself in the angry women. And I agree, I don't know where the anger came from especially because my husband is a good gy.

Jasmine said...

Not sure how much my office admin will like the site of me reading my non-work blogs with my hand down my pants but I will tell her it is for a good cause: Understanding the male mind.

Hope you are going to have somebody address the "equal parenting" concept? I would love to hear from just one couple who actually aspires to this model and how they make it work

some questions for men said...

Why don't our husbands worry about the kids as much as we do?
When did they become okay with living in filth?
Why don't I know one father responsible for buying the birthday presents?
When did the things they love about their wives turn into the things that annoy them?

ratna said...

gender differences are never going to go away entirely and choosing to ignore or gloss over them doesn't help anybody!

rehka said...

I didn't believe in all the stereotypes either until I had my daughter. For dome reason most of my friends had sons and it really is surreal to see all the kids side by side. They could be different species it seems! It's actually remarkable that men and women aren't even more dissimilar considering how different boys and girls are!

nidhi said...

Glad you're doing this we can always use more insight into men and I agree they get more mysterious after they become fathers. Like, what's up with the hunter gatherer mindset!? It's not like my prehistoric need to sew or harvest corn was triggered! And I was the one who carried the child inside of me!
P.s. Love the blog thanks for doing it, there aren't many sites that are truly for young(ish) south asian women (who happen to have a brain).

Anonymous said...

I get so mad at myself when I hear "thank you" coming out of my mouth after my husband has done some simple task. It's like our expectations have become so low we are thankful for anything approaching equal parenting...

Geeta said...

I'm glad you included the part about male bashing. As much as I try not to I tend to joke around with the girls about males being this or that all the time and that must add to the idea that men are just inept, incompetent etc.

Anonymous said...

I will take any and all advice on how the male mind operates.

tks said...

I don't know about the male bashing thing-- I think post parenthood it's the moms who get bashed. We worry all the time, we replace our spouses with our kids, we are less interested in sex. It's as if the men we married stay exactly the same but we become sub par, if you are to believe all the jokes.

Shona said...

Your last line made me laugh out loud. Looking forward to next week!

Anonymous said...

How about: why do I have to explain HOW to take care of OUR child as if he is a babysitter? Why doesn't he learn himself like I have?? Why am I the one who has to know when we are out of milk/diapers/clothes/toilet paper etc etc etc. I swear we set out on this thing together and now I feel like I am leading two children. I am a member of the seething masses for sure and probably even more right now when my husband is out with the boys and called to ask for a reminder of what I needed at the store (MILK!).

Furious Nari (just became a little more pissed off) said...

Off topic. Or maybe not!

I couldn't find where you wrote about that 70 year old Indian woman who gave birth to a baby via invitro. Turns out my hunch was right.

They did it for a son.

Unfortunately, in her eyes at least, she gave birth to twins, on girl and one boy. She says she feels "cheated".

She had already had two daughters and grandchildren. She just wanted a boy, damnit!

video here;

BD said...

Ok, i will take the challenge in answering your questions, lady :), watch out here:

give me 2 days.

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