For what are we responsible?

As we discussed in class, gender is something socially constructed and performed. Most people do not realize that they are perpetuating gender stereotypes every day.    We are responsible for the gender roles that women and men are expected to adhere to. What I want to specifically address is how most people do not find anything wrong with how media supports current gender roles. For instance, in mainstream music, gender roles and stereotypes are evident. In the popular song “Daughter” by John Mayer, he includes the lyrics, “Boys you can break/ Find out how much they can take/ Boys will be strong and boys soldier on/ But boys would be gone without the warmth of a woman’s good good heart/ On behalf of every man looking out for every girl/ You are the God and the weight of her world.” Mayer sustains the stereotype that boys are tough and are the protectors for girls; girls are gentler and are there to comfort and show love towards men. People may listen to this song and not pick up on the gender roles John Mayer is supporting, and this is where the problem lies. Whether it is through our dress, actions, or simply through the media we enjoy, we are complicit in supporting current gender roles. It may not be apparent to us, just like it was not apparent to me when I would frequently listen to Daughters. It is our responsibility to step back and notice these gender stereotypes that are constantly facing us.

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3 Responses to For what are we responsible?

  1. dcleahy says:

    I think John Mayer’s perpetuation of gender stereotypes is more complex than the surface observation that “Daughters” dehumanizes women, and therefore Mayer is catering to male fans who share that Subject/Object view. Men listen to John Mayer but are much less passionate about his music because of its emotional content in a soft rock shell, which is viewed as traditionally feminine. Mayer’s main listening demographic is women. Since Mayer generally commits to the troubadour-lothario archetype, his major appeal comes from his perceived emotional rawness and adoration for women, but the “adoration” he holds for women in his music comes from a place of idolization and objectification, where women “bring color to his world” just by existing, and not by their own decisions or actions. So, who is really responsible for perpetuating Mayer’s views? Mayer? The women who listen and attend his concerts? Or us in general for not standing up and pointing out the contradictions of his music and demanding action? Responsibility in a society that accepts inequity of gender is a complicated issue, and pointing the finger at one person to take care of the problem is a undercooked solution to a systemic problem.

  2. ariel1001 says:

    I agree with the notion that the average person does not realize that he or she perpetuates gender stereotypes. I have instantly become more aware of how women and men are categorized since I entered this class. Women in general are told through advertisements, the media and conversationally to be beautiful, loving, and motherly. We only notice the gender constraints put upon us when we see a woman go against these constraints. For example, what if we encountered a woman who smelled like Old Spice instead of Secret? What if she didn’t shave her legs or armpits? What do men say about women in predominantly male fields? When we become more aware of these gender differences when someone breaks the gender barrier, a majority of people begin to question why a woman doesn’t fit into the socially constructed box. We say, “Why does she smell like a guy?” or “Why aren’t her legs shaved?” and men question the intelligence of a women sitting in a class full of men as if she does not belong. When we outwardly question these differences that have the possibility of creating gender norm changes, we impede the process of gender equality and support the role that society plays in maintaining these gender norms. Fact is, we are comfortable with what we know and understand, and we are used to hearing a song like “Daughters” without hesitation, despite its insinuation that a man is “God” and “strong” while a woman has “warmth” and a “good heart”. I’m sure that if the subjects were switched in this song, people would have a lot to say about it, as men would feel it was unfair and disgraceful to be portrayed as weaker than a woman.

  3. Wolf says:

    I haven’t heard Daughters before your blog post, but I looked up the lyrics to the song and I just have to say that I do not like the song at all. I agree with you that Mayer is instilling his viewers with sexist notions. Mayer implies that men are the center point of women’s lives, that men give women reasons to live, whereas he only attributes women to “giving color to his world” (a superficial but unnecessary aspect of a world). He also implies that women are only good for cleaning up men’s messes. I think that Mayer does not give women enough credit, and he does not recognize, in any way, that women can be independent or strong – he condemns all women to the fate of being a mother. He puts all men, and especially fathers, up on a pedestal and simplifies the relationships between fathers, daughters, and mothers. Ironically, Mayer himself is not a father, so from what experience can he draw on to give other people parenting advice? He also is not married, and is a mere 35 years old. He seems ignorant for his age and keen on furthering sexist opinions through his music. He equates women into cleaning, cooking, motherly machines that if you put enough “love” coins into, a baby and a perfect relationship will pop out. In his song, Daughters, Mayer dehumanizes women, reducing them down to their “essential” parts, and at the same time, garners more male audience with his worship of the male gender.

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