There is an old stereotype that Feminists must hate men. There is an old stereotype that these men must be strong, aggressive and powerful. These are commonplace gender stereotypes that have nothing to do with the way that people actually are, how they live, how they talk and how they interact with one and other. They are perpetuated in order to create an oppressive system of social control. Stereotypes are not fun. They are not positive.
I was really intrigued to see this link shared by Upworthy about the rise of male grooming.
The film certainly looks interesting enough but what baffled me was the statement that Upworthy wrote alongside it,
“If women have to go through it, I suppose men should too. Jason Bateman and Will Arnett go on a journey to discover the ever-materializing world of male grooming, waxing, and general trying-to-look-goodery. In a weird way I guess this is a win for overcoming gender stereotypes?”
Now, I am all for personal grooming and keeping clean. Nobody wants to smell bad and I am first to advocate basic hygiene, you scrub yourself with that soap! What I find problematic, however, is this recent rhetoric attitude in the media that imposes a level of grooming that is based on insecurity and pressure. Just like those old gender stereotypes, we are talking about control. The media is so effective that it is now considered repulsive and revolting for women to have any form of body hair. Removal is compulsory. Is your skin not fabulously flawless and poreless? Does your hair not sparkle and release a sweet scent of lavender and exotic fruits when you swish it back and forth? Then get back in the shower, you dirty animal!
The fact that this kind of pressure is now being felt by men is by no means, a “win for overcoming gender stereotypes,” it is simply sad. It makes me deeply unhappy that men are being sold, package and dealt insecurity on a daily basis, just as it makes me deeply unhappy that so many women despair that they aren’t good enough, that they don’t look groomed, or glamorous or polished enough. As a true Feminist fighting for equality, why oh why would I want men to suffer also? In a weird way, men were almost luckier when they kept their noses firmly out of the plucking and preening profitable bullshit.
Furthermore, Upworthy and the documentary are actually reinforcing these gender stereotypes rather than liberating them. The metrosexual men in this documentary are posed as oddities, as peculiar, as straying away from the norm. They are placed as ‘Other’ in comparison to the apparent majority of men simply because they are behaving as women supposedly do. It’s as if they are almost saying, “hey look at these weird beautiful men acting like women…. how bizzare that they would want to behave as such!” Because behaving like a women, kids, is nothing to be proud of… despite the fact we taught her to behave like that.
It’s about time that men and women just simply stopped. Stopped buying into this defined and repressive idea of beauty, stopped buying all those useless creams and products, stopped loathing and hating their healthy bodies and looked beyond the two-dimensional advertisements and campaigns. Kindness, honesty, intelligence and love; surely these are the qualities that really matter? And yes, that may sound cheesy, but cheese is a hell of a lot more tastier than plain old bland stereotypes.