I am giggling a bit when I write this, mainly because I think it´s a funny story but it´s part sad giggle because this story does make a little sad (and a wee bit angry). I will say to all the bros out there: don´t be offended if this story doesn´t apply to you, be happy.
Imagine this: summer of 2011, it´s friggin´ HOT every day in Ohio, USA, we keep sweating, staying inside for work and occasionally going for a drive to the nearby reservoir. I have just begun making friends with this fellow student, we can call her Al (mainly because that is her name). So Al is this awesome woman, she´s smart and funny and powerful and good-looking. She can, like me, see that being a senior woman in college will not really offer any chances of romance/dating/relationships because all guys are… well, let´s say more interested in beer and being bros. (Not all of them, I promise, but the grand majority of boys at our college.)
We talk about our grand dreams of taking over the world and being able to make it all happen, despite the claims on us as women to take care of a family, raise kids and such. I mean, how do you really do this if you want to start a career??? And mind you, in the US it is much harder than in Sweden. We planted the seed of this organization called WIP (that this blog is named after) with our friend Layzoor on a roof of a dorm drinking beer (yes, I can now admit we did this). We talk about the hookup culture and binge drinking at our college that really doesn´t do anybody any good. We can see all these amazing young women in leadership positions on the weekdays – turning into very drunk people and making decisions they regret on the weekends.
Look, no judgments on women wanting to have fun and hook up, but I saw more women being dissatisfied with this way of living than satisfied. There´s a difference here, the women were often hoping that these encounters on the weekends would lead to something more than just the casual hookup. The boys in general seemed happy with it (not saying that they were.)
So we did occasionally frequent the local bar (one of three bars within walking distance to campus), not so much because of their scary dangerous drinks, but to show that we´re around, meeting up with friends and mostly avoiding alcohol. It´s hot and humid out there, and people are mostly just sweaty 24-7 (this has no point to the story, just providing you with the feeling of stickiness we had most of the time).
So, we´re at the bar, sitting outside at some tables, having a Blue Moon, me and Al. Talking about why gender stereotypes are bad for both men and women, and how we could somehow change this, but struggling with the HOW? (I can´t exactly remember what we talked about, but general stuff that concerns strong women, go figure, haha)
Enter: the bros.
(For those of you that are not super aware of American college life, the bros are basically male students, generally either belonging to a fraternity, an all-male club, or some kind of sports team where you spend a lot of time hazing each other and being stereotypically “manly.” They´re very common and for those of you that are more interested I would recommend reading “Guyland – the perilous world where boys become men” by Michael Kimmel http://www.guyland.net/ Look, they´re not all bad, but a lot of the culture they bring is not exactly great.)
The bros are sitting down with us because we know them. They get a beer or something and we welcome them. They are pretty loud. Me and Al are super interested in the topic we are discussing (again, gender and equality), and continue talking, making sure to not leave these people out of our conversation. After an extremely short period of time (we´re talking 15 second here, friends) I feel a tension in the air. The bros (there´s about eight of them) seem slightly uncomfortable, they are turning in their seats and looking around for nobody in particular. They become quiet. One after another they make excuses to get a beer or “I HAVE to go play pool” or just simply disappear. They do not return.
We continue talking, trying to figure out why these guys left. Was it because they were threatened by the topic? Because they did not find it interesting? Because they thought we were nuts? Or maybe because they just went to the bar to play some pool and wear their shorts low and their hats backwards and drink a lot of beer and HANG OUT WITH THE bros DAMMIT and all you can talk about is gender equality???!!!
Hey, yes, this was one of the first things me and Al did together in our friendship, and yes, we would look back at this throughout the year (and laugh) and really pinpoint it as an example of why we didn´t really see any men during our last year of college. But it saddened us too because we wanted to have this conversation with our peer male students and talk about it as an issue for ALL students. Unfortunately, I only met a few men in college that were comfortable discussing these questions.
What do YOU think? Is masculine and feminine stereotypes hurtful to society?
H to the A to the NN to the A
PS. I am still looking to meet a man that is capable and interested in discussing gender stereotypes, inequality and what the roles of masculinity and femininity does do our society. A man of quality is not threatened by (talking about) equality.