Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon and Kate

I have tried to ignore Jon and Kate, but the "news" outlets won't let me. Well, I guess they are "newsish" or "newsy," but not so much news.

I have never seen the show "Jon and Kate plus 8" and know very little about it. It all sounds so tragic what is happening. In short, the show is a reality show in which the couple has sextuplets (Super cute kids) and how life is with so many kids, but now they are divorcing. Ugh! Apparently Jon was cheating. The show has been suspended until August as the TLC tries to figure out what the heck to do. The story is sad. The reporting on it is sadder - from a cultural perspecitve.

This morning the "news" analysis was, "Now Kate is really going to be under scrutiny with the kids. Mothers are held to a higher standard and men get a pass. Everything she does will be seen through the lens of mother, but men have a lot of leeway - something she is not going to have."

That was the "newsish" analysis. Barf!!! How incredible that they simultaneously perpetuate the very stereotype that they criticize. I have to give it to them, it's job security. The underlying message is that men are less (morally, competent as parents, responsible) than women and we've all come to accept this sad, sad reality. We should feel for Kate because we all know that Jon is an ass (because he cannot help it, he is a man). If Jon is a jerk, it is because he is a jerk. We do not have to accept it and we do not have to implicate an entire gender based case study. What is so hard for me to handle is how smoothly this kind of nuanced sexism rolls off the tongue and how much it is part of the accepted vernacular. It is indefensible, and yet there is apparently no need to defend it because it manages to avoid critique.

This all on the heels of Obama's incredible Father's Day message about how valuable fathers are.
The kind of junk journalism is completely irresponsible as it adds another cultural particle to the vast cloud of cultural particles which marginalizes men and makes it harder for thems to see themselves for who they really are.

Gender wars are hideous. Women and men alike are treated so poorly - objectified (though in different ways). There is inherent value in men. There is inherent value in women. We must be about the goal of bringing about the very best in people, not expose the worst and then generalize it to everyone with some similar characteristics or the group from which they come.