It used to be a lot easier being a man or a woman.
Guys used to do “guy” things and gals did those “lady” things.
Nobody seemed to question any of it.
Then, one day, you just couldn’t be a “guy” anymore.
Society started putting hyphens into our lives.
In the broadest sense, I believe “society” is talking out of both sides of its’ collective mouth.
“We” preach unity and togetherness and at the same time “we” feel the need to be more divided and classified.
Can’t just be an American.
You gotta be an “African-American” or a “Mexican-American” or “pick the country or region of your choice” American.
I’d like to believe that unless you just got here, you’re an American.
Just because 4 generations ago, my relatives came from Europe, I’m aware of it but I’m an American, not a “Something-American”.
Probably too simplistic for many.
But I can live with it.
It seems hard to be united when we spend so much time focused on our differences.
And yet, some of those differences are what make life neat.
So that’s why my brow was furrowed when I read about a Penn State University study.
The entire study appears in the journal “Sex Roles”.
The research found men tend to avoid reusable shopping bags because they don’t want to appear gay or feminine.
This research said most people think it’s “un-manly” to use tote bags instead of plain, plastic ones when shopping for groceries.
I used to have a reusable shopping bag that carried I all my “work snacks” in and I might still use it today…if the bottom hadn’t fallen out.
Geez, I didn’t know that some of my co-workers might have considered me “un-manly” for my toting choices.
Come to think of it, though, I used to hum “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story whenever I carried that bag to work.
You wanna know why my wife and i don’t use reusable shopping bags?
We always forget to taken them out of the vehicle we’re driving to the store.
As a young married, one of the “un-manly” tasks I most disliked was picking up “feminine hygiene” products for my wife.
(It’s when I learned to hate “Price check!” bellowed over the store intercom.)
Thank God for UPC!
This Penn State study went on to say we men and women tend to avoid certain “behaviors” so we don’t send the wrong signal about our gender.
Get a load of this.
Researchers found people were more likely to question a women’s sexual identity if they adopted more “masculine behaviors” like caulking windows.
Wait a minute!
If I was tasked with listing “masculine behaviors”, I’m not sure “window caulking” would even be on the list, much less even making he “Hot 100”.
Now, if a woman stood before a urinal in the restroom, I might consider that a “masculine behavior” but weather-proofing a window???
Now, it’s true that I was dressed like a woman as part of high school band camp initiation back in the “Dark Ages”.
Ditto for my grandsons.
(I think it’s because we have nice legs!)
Again society sends us mixed signals.
We’re all supposed to be equal and the same until we guys carry re-usable shopping bags or ladies caulk windows.
So, if men and women seem to dodge certain actions that mess up the gender signals we send out, my wife and I are terribly confused.
Swing by our house and many days you’ll find my wife in the workshop running the chop saw and sanding while I’m in the kitchen washing dishes and baking cookies.
I don’t think we’ve confused our family because our grandkids still call me “Grandpa” and my wife “Grandma”.
Then again, maybe they’re just humoring us.
Now understand that I don’t do all the cooking and washing and my wife still leaves most of the workshop stuff to me although she does closely monitor my work.
Listen, as hard as society attempts to make us believe that we’re alike and at the same time different, remember the wise words of Sylvester Stewart.
Sylvester was Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone from the late 60’s and 70’s.
They sang, “Different strokes for different folks”.
It’s a line from “Everyday People”.
The lyrics basically said while we’re all different, we’re still “everyday people”.
So, get over this stereotyping and jumping to conclusion just because a guy doesn’t shop with a re-usable shopping bag or the lady caulks windows.
“I am no better and neither are you.
We are the same, whatever we do.
You love, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in.”
Thanks again, Sly.
“We got to live together”.
We gotta stop picking fly poop out of the pepper and zero in on what we have in common.
I think once we do that, we can get more done.
Whether it’s shopping or caulking windows.