Bad Listicles Reinforcing Dating Gender Roles
There are plenty of reasons why people read and love listicles – they’re easy to digest, make succinct points and are often quite relatable. Whether it’s ‘reasons why being into podcasts makes you awesome’ or ‘all the hidden meanings of your zodiac sign’, there’s a listicle for every individual. Whilst trawling through the depths of the internet, I came across an article on Thought Catalog called 51 Itty Bitty Ways He Shows He Loves You (Without Even Saying It), you may think it would make those in a relationship feel better. Unfortunately, it is mostly a pile of gender role reinforcing rubbish.
Let’s get some of the ones that were quite sweet, and applicable to any couple regardless of (if any) gender roles out of the way:
- When you feel a cold coming on, he’ll force you to take Vitamin C and zinc lozenges and make you drink tea and sip chicken soup
- He emails you articles about TV shows you love, and sends you news stories that he thinks you’d be interested in
- He tells his friends about the fun stuff you do together over the weekend
And there we have it, I mean, a few more of them might be okay, but as Han Solo would say, the rest of it is entirely sexist mumbo jumbo!
Now, the generic gender roles:
- He willingly does the laundry. And even though he sucks at folding, he’ll make little (messed up) piles of your fresh clean clothes
- He hates getting dressed up, but he does it for you
- He tolerates your shared bathroom looking like a bomb went off of moisturisers, make-up, facial soap, hair brushes, contact lenses and perfumes
Putting aside how these points stereotype women as the domestic ones, they’re also quite degrading to men. Are men just overgrown children who don’t know how to do their own laundry? Or are they just incapable of living with someone who has stuff that takes up space? Or that none, not a single one, cares for their appearance or enjoys dressing up smart? Ridiculous.
And let’s not forget objectification and antisocial behaviour:
- He texts you when you’re sitting five feet away from him to say, “Hey, Sexy.”
- You can put a dress, jewelry, heels, makeup and have your hair done for a night out, but you’ll get the most compliments out of him when wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.
If we’re five feet away from each other I hope we’re talking and not fiddling about on our phones, because frankly that’s just rude. It’s endearing when we dress up and all, but apparently what guys really want is a girl who can “nerd-out”– but still be sexy, of course.
There’s of course the reverse stereotype:
- When you start singing Adele songs in the car, he’ll chime in, even if he doesn’t know the words
- If Love Actually, Mean Girls, Bridesmaids or any other awesome chick flicks are unexpectedly on TV, he understands that you will be glued there no matter how many times he’s seen them and he may even join you
- He will never make fun of you for hoarding all of the Domino’s Cinnasticks with vanilla dipping sauce and leaving him nothing but half a stick that already has a bite in it
Frankly, my boyfriend knows more radio friendly pop songs than I do and happily watched Love Actually with me around Christmas time. Here we see the same ‘girly-girl’ stereotype, shaming men for having any interesting in something that might seem feminine. Also, what does this last point say about men? That they shouldn’t be annoyed if we eat all their food, they should be…. I would be! Again, this listicle manages to parse behaviour and reactions into stereotypical gender roles. Men like food, women don’t eat – but when women are being ‘cute’ by eating a lot, men shouldn’t complain.
- He’s happiest when fulfilling his idea of the perfect night: taking you out for a fun dinner followed by a movie with popcorn
I wouldn’t consider that a perfect night, and I’m pretty sure most boyfriends would find it enjoyable but not perfect. It might be fun once in a while, but there are plenty of other perfect nights that don’t involve him paying for things – hiking together, cooking together, reading in bed together. The key thing that makes relationships function is the togetherness, not one of us doing dishes or laundry, or paying for things or holding doors, but doing all of these things together – because that’s life.
These points are supposed to illustrate love, but many actually work both ways, they are not tied down to a ‘him’ or ‘her’. There are lots of ways you can show your love for someone, and but let’s not pin them all on outdated gender roles, that mean men can only fulfill some roles and women are limited to do the others. Being thoughtful, caring, and supportive does not belong to any gender.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.