Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Real Men Do Terrible Things.

And so do real women.

I've gotten a lot of Facebook invites lately for the "Causes" application, specifically the cause called "Real Men Don't Hit Women" or some such. While I appreciate the intent of the app, there's something about it that doesn't sit right with me. It's the use of the word "real." Authenticity is not something that can be determined this way. Melissa over at Shakesville explains it better than I ever could, 'cause she's crazy smart like that. (Follow the link to her letter that's in that post-it's also amazing.)

Real men do all manner of things, both good and bad, and so do real women. The use of the word "real" in this context has always bothered me, in many different circumstances. It bothered me when I was thin and struggling with the "real women have curves" claptrap that gets thrown around as a poor substitute for size acceptance. It bothered me when I was a single teen mom and heard the owner of the daycare my son was in making a distinction between teen moms and "real moms." It bothers me when used as a tool to enforce gender stereotypes and heteronormativity, as in "real men don't cry" or "real women know how to cook" or any one of a million phrases like those. And it bothers me to see authenticity used in this context, however well-meaning.

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