Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Boy, Oh, Boy

A little while back, Jason and I went to see the Charleston premiere of the documentary, Miss Representation.

You can read about it here.

Near the bottom, I mention that I liked it because it touched on the problems that boys face in the dehumanization of women and the way they are socialized and expected to act.

This was played out quite painfully in a movie theater this weekend.

Jason and I went to see the movie Chronicle. (His choice, but better than I expected it to be.) Behind me to my left was a family that included a boy who was, oh, I'm bad at this - older than 11, younger than 14.

There were two scenes in the movie where the boy immediately and verbally proclaimed his stress.

The first, one male character who has always been an outsider with few friends asks his male cousin, "Do you like me?"

Now, he meant it as, are you my friend because you like me or is it a family obligation.

The boy sitting behind me, immediately said, "ooooohh, gross, god," and made some noises of disgust. Those retching, shuddering sounds played out through the entire scene.

Immediately. He put no context into the question. Do you like me meant sex and ew, that meant he might be perceived as gay and so this threat to masculinity must be immediately and unequivocally rejected. Verbally so there was no doubt that he was not gay by the implication of his silence.

The second scene, the three main characters are doing something dangerous and one almost gets killed, but is saved by another. In his exuberance, the saved teen is jumping around, hugging the savior, telling him, "I love you, man!".

The boy sitting behind me, again, immediately upon the first hug, began to verbally reject what he was seeing. When the saved boy began kissing the savior on the cheek - in an obvious, over-the-top bit of playacting - the poor boy's mother had to shush him, he couldn't emotionally handle the scene.

So, where did he learn this behavior? It is not normal. It is not normal that the mere mention of "like" or any other emotional connection between two men is immediately interpreted as "gay".

And can that poor boy sitting behind me ever tell a friend, I love you? Or will his emotional life be cut in half? Only allowed to express feelings of caring to females?

The objectification of women in the media, the vicious attacks against women in positions of power are harmful to women.

But the portrayal of men as consumers of women harms them also.

So, when you are navigating the world of media and educating your daughters, don't forget to look at what those images on the screen are teaching your sons.

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