It’s funny…because it’s true.
Focus on the Family would find broader acceptance if they were comedians and not an organisation for educating youth about sexuality. But is there no truth at all to the gender stereotypes used by FotF? Was there no value at all to what they had said?
Don’t get me wrong: I fully understand that society is evolving with regard to gender roles and behavior, and I fully support that because I personally don’t fit into the conventional girl stereotype. And what Agatha Tan said about FotF perpetuating rape culture is absolutely right. Their brand of sex ed teaches guys that what a woman says might not actually be what a woman means, and so when she says ‘no’ to sex, she might actually mean yes and you can have a night of non-consensual fun. And that’s just wrong. And like, illegal.
But let’s not ignore that there are some visceral differences between men and women when it comes to communication. FotF said “when a girl says ‘it’s nothing’, it actually means ‘something is bothering me’.” As an adolescent female with the relevant reproductive organs, I can testify that there is a modicum of truth to that statement.
What’s so wrong with pointing out the art of subtlety when communicating with the opposite gender? What’s so wrong with giving guys a hint that sometimes they should read between the lines of what a girl says?
And there might be just a few other hard truths:
“While guys don’t want a girl to pretend to be clueless,” the FotF booklet says, “they also don’t want a girlfriend that questions their opinions and argues with their decisions all the time.”
Well, that’s not exactly false, is it? Both genders have egos and, whether you’re male or female, you probably don’t want anyone to constantly doubt your judgement.
The booklet also apparently said something like “Guys need respect and are insecure”.
Can you really argue with the notion that it’s just not nice when a girl walks all over a guy? Is it not true that girls deserve sensitivity from guys, and this sensitivity must be mutual?
I get Agatha Tan’s point that we shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush. I get Emma Watson’s point that gender is a spectrum of feminine and masculine traits, and these traits don’t belong in a dichotomy – they transcend both genders. But there is nothing wrong with teaching people to read in between the lines, to understand implicit meanings, and not to take words at face value.
So don’t take FotF’s presentation at face value either. Take it with a pinch of salt or maybe even some humor. Laugh along, because there is another stereotype that we girls have to break: that we are so high-maintenance we can’t take a joke.
In fact, FotF’s message isn’t about gender – it’s about language. It’s about the difference between overt language and innuendo. And that’s not a lesson about communication with a girl or with a guy. That’s a lesson about communication with everyone. It’s something to keep in mind when your boss tells you you’ll be promoted “if you perform well”. Or when you ask your girlfriend where she wants to go for dinner and she says “anywhere”. Don’t take that as an invitation to bring her to KFC.
It’s funny …… because it’s true.
This post was first published over at My Political Pennies' Worth on 11 October 2014. It is reproduced with permission.
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