I said "I believe men can be better" last week regarding a job ad I was reading, and I've been thinking that this is a thing I've rarely heard from anyone. I hear, all the time, aphorisms disparaging men and removing all agency and blame for bad behavior:
- "Boys will be boys"
- "That's just how guys are"
- "You should have known that would happen -- he's a guy"
Growing up, I expected to be a terrible person. I expected to be uncontrollable. I expected to want to hurt people. And I didn't want to be that person. When I didn't become that person, I still knew that was what people expected of me.
So, through the power of stereotype threat, a shy, sensitive boy turns into a sullen, introverted man who struggles with depression. Because nobody ever told him that men could be better.
And, through the magic of stereotype excuses, sexual predators occupy our highest offices and control our most powerful institutions. Because nobody ever told them that men had to be better.