By Dr. James Wadley
Recently, I had a conversation with a parent who asked about my sentiments towards the new Steve Harvey movie, “Think Like Man.” She mentioned that she was raising a teenage daughter, and that she was confused about what values, morals, and behaviors she should convey to her daughter about self-respect, friendship, and romance.
She expressed that her daughter was a 17-year old senior who had recently been accepted into college and had a special friend whom she was dating. I thought for a moment, and then offered up some potential scenarios that might happen if she were to, per the book and the movie, teach her daughter to “think like a man,” and to understand how masculinity is exercised in our culture: how being dominant, assertive, aggressive, independent, non-emotive, and maintain a sense of entitlement is, in many ways, encouraged in our society. I let her know that thinking like a man may enable her daughter to:
- Be less visible among her peers.
- Possibly make more money as an adult.
- Not have to be concerned about being scrutinized about crossing her legs or keeping them open while seated.
- Probably never be questioned about her weight, size, or beauty.
I also told my friend that, in my opinion, thinking like woman has NO place in our society if she wants her daughter to be happy.
…and then told the mother that all of my above satirical comments were created purely to get her to think about the overall message that Steve Harvey is suggesting to the public.
After the conversation, I thought about what I would share with my daughter (if I had one), if I were in the same situation:
- I believe I would teach her that being a woman and thinking like a woman can be pretty cool.
- While I would not push her to subscribe to traditional gender roles (e.g., passive or aggressive; nurturer or provider; collaborative or competitive, etc), I would encourage her to be “herself” and develop friendships and relationships that enable her to be the best that she can be.
- I would share with her how disappointed I would be if she would ever felt like she had to think like a man and act like a lady for the sake of finding a partner.
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