Apparently, it's acceptable to make the blanket statement that "Men lie." Especially about sex and relationships.
I really hate to get all New Age Hippie on everyone, but really: doesn't it just make sense, even to rather dyed-in-the-wool folk, that to promote positive change, one must at least try to cease our own acts of status quo?
Recently, Corey Whelan of the American Fertility Association blogged about a comment made by Dr. Richard Grazi at one of the AFA's popular Manicures & Martinis events in Brooklyn. She reported her amusement at the fertility expert's message to the small audience of young women in attendance: men lie.
Grazi's comment was intended to make a point about the tremendous (and often unknown) impact of STD's on fertility. Whelan's blogpost elaborated a bit on that infection-infertility connection, but mostly it stirred up a small hornet's nest of reaction toward the publication in black & white of a blatant gender stereotype.
I'm not a public speaker, but I made a few attempts during my past social work career. For the record, I'm not bad with a small group. I reek of shyness with more than about two pairs of eyeballs on me at one time. So I know enough to understand that thoughts uttered or muttered in one setting may vary drastically from those trumpeted to large groups. It's a matter of casual conversation versus professional lecturing.
Pamela Madsen was one of the vocal opposition to the "men lie" message, twitching and blogging in return. Madsen is not only a fertility advocate, but a sexuality educator, and a mom of young men.
Whelan accordingly retorted that "apparently women lie as well," though she denies doing so herself. She was responding to an inflamed emailer who listed a few ways that women's cheatin' hearts could similarly betray and entrap men.
Comes a man, Ken Mosesian, the Executive Director of AFA, to continue the defense. His blogpost turned the "men lie" message into a banner for "knowledge is power" as regards to health-promoting sexual behavior.
Madsen returns with the swing: that the AFA's platform of "men lie to get sex" should be reformulated as "PEOPLE lie to get sex."
My own ten-year-old has been taking a sexuality course through our church. It's an 8-week long series geared for preteens, with a follow-up slated for their early teen years. While the kids this age roll their eyes, shut down at the dinner table, and enter the education room like they're heading for detention, most of what's being taught is "right relationship." Healthy ones, not stereotypical bs portrayals from the B&W television era. The kids talk (well, they're given opportunity to discuss) about deeper meanings to sex, not just the mechanics and logistics. The class facilitators are people who fully understand that people like my young son are being raised in a world where it's okay to have best friends of the opposite gender, it's okay to be in love with people of the same gender, and we are all so much more similar than different in many ways.
I like -- no, I love -- that my son is growing up surrounded by (through no small feats of his mother and father, thank you very much) people who would be wholeheartedly offended by the pronounced ruling that "men lie," even if we may understand that it's initial context was innocent in intention. I do not look forward to my son being gradually acclimated to societal labeling that could very possibly make it easier, if not propel him, to behave in ways I consider immoral -- like lying about the impact he may have on another human's life.
As Pam says, at day's end "laying blame is just a waste of time" when what we need is compassion and honest, open discussion. Discussion where all feel their inherent worth and not pre-judged.
Some of us are already engaged in the process of changing stereotypes. Everyone is welcome to join.