Sunday, March 6, 2016

Be a man!

It is the nature of human societies to implant role models based on gender. In other words, through words, examples, media and unspoken expectations, boys and girls learn the practical functions and approaches needed to be an adult.  Of course, each family, subculture and era interprets these standards differently and modifies them as circumstances require. For example, the entry of women into the work force radically changed role models, partially wiping out those of previous generation. These expectations are expressed in numerous small scenes of daily life.  The gap between expectations and reality lead to quite humorous situations.

Money management is supposedly the realm of the male. As was common knowledge, women are too emotional to handle such an important matter.  Alas, men mismanage budgets at least as often as women.  Still, when talking to couples, many financial advisers assume that the male has the final word while the woman is there as a courtesy.  Being wrong on this point can lead to a very short conversation. The whole restaurant experience is still a bit macho for some.  It is the male that is supposed to call for restaurant and reserve the table. Lack of time and chivalry has really put cracks in that stereotype. At the restaurant, if one person orders a regular coke while the other a diet coke, the waiter will almost always serve the diet version to the woman as if men are never on diets or don’t care about sugar intake. When it comes time to pay the bill, it is obvious that the male will pay for it, right? Many women earn more money than their partners but don’t get any respect from the waiter.

Cars have been a male thing from day one. Men have all supposedly all the privileges and obligations attached to those machines. For example, according to the movies, men do the driving on vacation trips and going to those above mentioned restaurants, but not on shopping trips.  Yet, men tend to drink more and be more dangerous drivers even when not under the effect of alcohol.  Many women know this and immediately take the car key, generally without an argument. On the other side of the coin, when it comes to taking the car to the garage for repairs or changing the oil, everybody knows that boys are born with the knowledge to understand such matters.  In fact, the understanding of the workings of the car engine and, by extension, that the mechanic is inflating the bill is available to everybody, XX’s and XY’s. It is a matter of experience and desire to learn (which I don’t personally have but my wife does in this area).  We won’t even talk about the stereotypes regarding replacing a flat tire.

Men can ignore most household chores, including cleaning and cooking, but do so at their one peril.  On the other hand, society seems to expect the man of the house to justify his existence by doing all the house repairs even if it would be much faster and less expensive if his spouse did it or he called in a professional. Likewise, despite the fact that computer programming was invented by seven female math lecturers during World War II, men are supposed to have a natural ability to solve any computer issue, probably due to our legendary non-emotional nature.  The fact is that the larger muscle mass in males gives them no inherent advantage in trying to figure out what an alien message from the computer wants us to do. Yet, we have to try but are happy to pass on any woman that knows better.

I should mention one task that a man cannot avoid. When his daughter brings home a prospective husband, he must sit with him, preferably fortified by a beer (or two), and check the guy out. He fully knows that nothing he says will change his daughter’s mind but he has to go through the scene to ensure domestic tranquility, his. If there is one thing that a man needs, that is a domestic tranquility.

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