Avoid Lessons from the Cave Men on TV – Define Masculinity On Your Terms.

Did you ever noticeMV5BNDg2NzI3NzcwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTgwNzk5Mg@@._V1._SX499_SY333_ that there is a repeated male character on sitcoms which you could refer to as  – the caveman.  He’s a drinking, womanizing, upper class dude – who considers no ones feelings but his own? Think about Barney on How I met your Mother or Charlie on Two and a Half Men. There is also a lower middle class counterpart to this suave caveman – who is the farting, drinking, mess of a caveman that you get on a sitcom like King of QueensDoug – who can’t seem to do anything right; he’s a docile idiot cave man. tumblr_m7l64k1b7h1r8lemeo1_500

These representations reinforce our understanding of men as out of control animals: inconsiderate, self-centered horrible beings, who either aren’t smart enough to think through the consequences of their actions or they understand these consequences but don’t care about those who will suffer in their wake.  As I’m sure you know these characters are well-loved a revered. Consider the messages of Barney Stinson, which have popped-up as memes all over the internet:

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I am not saying that these characters and shows aren’t funny – (often they are hilarious), I am just pointing out that this kind of character is often used as a basis for poor male behavior. In other words, the negative generalizations that I often hear about men can easily be linked to these kind of characters. Things like  – all men cheat, men are pigs, men are selfish and don’t want to communicate, boys will be boys, etc. Men are not mindless animals – they are conscious beings with hearts, minds and souls and we need to culturally reinforce this idea.  Men are awesome – they are beings filled with love, strength, courage, intelligence, frustration and every other human emotion. Being a male does not mean you have to talk down to others, dominate, or be stoic. You can define masculinity for yourself. There are no rules people. The path is yours to define.

At Extraordinary Being we have a workshop series that focuses on this exact idea….Extraordinary Men. Check it out. Also, why not like us on facebook.

(Side note:  I feel like the use of “animal” here implies that animals are beings that lack consciousness and that’s not true – so please excuse the use of the word).

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4 thoughts on “Avoid Lessons from the Cave Men on TV – Define Masculinity On Your Terms.

  1. My daughter wanted a copy of Barney’s Bro Code. I told her that stuff is funny, but it’s funny because it’s ridiculous and that she’s not old enough to appreciate that. Consequently, it wouldn’t be good for her for read the code like they are true rules that all or some men do or should follow. She’s too young to get it. It’s funny that both the actor who plays Barney and the actor who played the womanizing sports DJ on Frazier are gay in real life. As men they are a completely different kind of man as their characters.

  2. I do find it interesting that sometimes the men that play these characters are people of quality – good fathers – social justice advocates etc. I also like that you discuss this stuff with your children. I feel like we watch a ton of media without really advocating for culture-wide media literacy and that so much of the time when we are watching we are being passive – letting the messages that are encoded into the repeated story lines influence our understanding of basic ideas about the world.

  3. Pingback: Avoid Lessons from the Cave Men on TV – Define Masculinity On Your Terms. | Feminist Cupcake

  4. Pingback: Masculinity | trueyoungmen

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