Minus the City: Expect More



Recently, my best friend from home texted me at three in the morning very upset because the boy she’d been crushing on tried to hook up with her best friend at school. I didn’t really know much about the situation and I’ve never met several of the key players, but I knew what I had to do. I sent a text containing a phrase that I hate. I hate hearing it and I hate saying it. In this case its iteration was: “I hate boys.” You may also be familiar with the similar “boys suck” or “boys are jerks.” I sent it because I knew she needed com­forting and she’s too far away to hug. It was easy, generic and she wouldn’t argue with it.

But even as I typed it I was frustrated with myself. I don’t really hate all boys. Many of my best friends are boys. My brothers are boys and I don’t hate them (except when they leave the tank of our shared car empty). But for some reason, this is the go-to phrase for dealing with boy-related problems. You can say it without looking closer at what the real problem is and, in moments of weakness, many of us do believe that all boys are horrible creatures.

Now in case you’ve been living under a rock for the majority of your life, I’ll clue you in to a little secret: stereotypes suck. And saying that all boys suck is kind of a stereotype.

Using these generalizations lets the individuals off the hook. If all boys are ass­holes then we can’t expect anyone to go beyond that. And we should. And this isn’t a high-maintenance, high standards thing. We should respect men enough to believe that they can be more than this worst view of their gender.

And this isn’t something that’s limited to girls’ views of guys. This is the same reason that I think PMS is a poor excuse for saying or doing crazy or possibly hurtful things. I don’t buy that girls are allowed to be emotional and demanding just because of some extra hormones in their body.

If we believe these stereotypes to be inevitable, then we can never ask for more for ourselves. We’ll put up with the hook-up buddy who treats us like crap or the über-demanding girlfriend because we don’t think there’s anything better out there. But there is. And letting someone get away with these actions because of the belief that everyone of their gender is like that is damaging to both people involved.

We need to look at the men and women we interact with as individual people with personal behaviors, motives and personalities. Because one guy treated you like dirt does not mean all boys are like that. And I don’t want to dismiss that pain because it really, really sucks to feel like you’ve been used or ill-treated. But give the rest of the gender the benefit of the doubt. Some of them are jerks, yeah, but so are some girls. Some girls are super demanding, but so are some guys. Sometimes people have character flaws, but those don’t come ingrained in our chromosomes.

Sure, these stereotypes are reinforced by Tucker Max-esque manifestos and chick flicks with horribly behaved protagonists. But here at Colgate, we’ve got some of the best and bright­est of our generation. Shouldn’t we be able to look at these portrayals and realize how wrong they are?