So recently I am seeing a lot of “If your girlfriend/boyfriend does this and this he/she is perfect. If they do this and this, ditch them” posts and memes on Facebook. I will admit that I am sometimes prone to share them, BUT this is going to change.
The reason for this is simple:
These posts set up a false ideal of what the perfect partner should be like. And it goes even further in my opinion. Relationship memes are often stereotyping genders and set up wrong ideals. To explain my thoughts further, I would like to have a look at some of these memes. I am going to cover different categories of these ‘postings/ memes’ in a series.
First lets take a look at, what I call, the ‘men in a relationship’ memes.
Here is our first example:
This post/ meme states that a man’s actions not only speak louder than words, but that he has to focus his whole attention on you. On the first glance the things mentioned here seem to be admirable; on the first glance. But on the second glance this post sets up a complete wrong ideal for all the men out there and it perpetuates common stereotypes about men.
What do I mean exactly?
This post basically tells men that they have to make their partner their sole focus in life, that they have to do certain things to be the perfect partner. According to this post a man needs to always text and phone their partner (and with partner I mean girlfriend, but more about that later) and make certain compliments.
The problem is that this ideal of a relationship is not everyone’s thing. Not everyone wants to get calls and texts all the time. I for sure don’t. Calling every day, texting all the time; if someone would do that to me I would call them a stalker. I get it, if you are in love and in a relationship, you should communicate, maybe even on a daily basis. But to what extend? This meme sets up the wrong ideal that , if you are a man and in a relationship,not calling and texting all the time is a bad thing to do.
It goes even further. This meme also suggests that we women only prefer a certain kind of compliment: That man shouldn’t call his girlfriend sexy or hot, but beautiful and pretty instead. Like the rest of this meme, this statement a sweeping generalisation of the things women and girls expect in a relationship from their male partner.
But it is exactly this whole generalisation that i find so wrong and even dangerous. Every person is different, every woman likes different compliments, has different ideas of a relationship. I am a strong minded person, but posts like this make me always doubt myself and my ideals of a relationship. It does the same to men.
Men are told that they have to follow this ideal, this stereotype of relationship behaviour. If they don’t, we women, I, won’t accept them; even worse reject them. And that is simply not true.
But it doesn’t end there, as following meme demonstrates:
This picture is pretty tame in comparison with the one before, but again: It sets up a stereotype and wrong ideal.
If you read that as a man, you can only come to the conclusion: “If I want to come across as sweet I need to kiss the girl I am into on the forehead!” But what this post doesn’t consider is that maybe forehead kisses are not every girls thing.
And if every guy starts to do what this post says – kissing girls on the forehead – just to look sweet, this gesture isn’t sweet any more really. It is just a meeker attempt to look sweet. It becomes just another hollow meaningless gesture.
A kiss though (in my opinion), no matter what kind of kiss, should mean something to both partners if they are in a serious relationship or are seriously dating. Kissing someone just because you think it might make you look cute, is meaningless. It takes away all the emotions that a kiss can symbolise. It isn’t sweet any longer.
And while we are already on about how these memes are wrong and stereotypical, let us also mention how they are stereotyping genders. The previous memes not only set up wrong ideas, they also propagate the old stereotype that men don’t pay any attention in relationships.
Even if that is true, following the wrong ideals of these memes won’t make the problem go away. I can send a 1000 texts to someone, kiss someone a lot, tell them what they want to hear and I still don’t necessarily pay any attention to them. Paying attention doesn’t mean you have to follow a checklist. Sometimes only 1 text can be all the attention someone needs, sometimes the weirdest compliment can be just the right one, sometimes no kiss is better than a 100. Paying attention is not about actions alone, it is about caring.
But according to these memes, as a men you can only care, if you follow certain rules and only if you have a woman in your life. Yes you heard right, as this meme demonstrates:
Yes, this meme is for real. and if you would believe what it says; no man can live without a woman. Even I, as a woman feel slightly offended by this statement.
Often ‘Men in relationship’ memes solely concentrate on heterosexual, cisgender men. 99% of the memes I see on a daily basis are about heterosexual relationships. Some can be read as gay, bisexual or other relationship ideals, but you often need a lot of imagination for that. The meme above just shows how binary the whole of relationship memes are. This meme makes me ask a bunch of questions.
What about the men who didn’t have a mother? What about gay men? What about Trans men? And so on. Are all these men basically fucked because they don’t have a Queen to protect them? And why on earth do men need a woman to protect them anyway?
I mean, what on earth? I am strong believer in independence. Yes, sometimes independence is about depending on someone, but why as a man do you need to have a woman in your life to depend on? Okay we give birth to them, but that doesn’t entitle us woman to say: “Hey I can give birth, that means you as a man need to depend on me.” Not to mention that not all women are capable of giving birth.
This meme is an example of how ‘men in relationship’ memes band other memes force you to believe that you need someone in your life, in this case a woman. It makes you believe that if you are alone, if you aren’t depending on anyone in particular, you are fucked. They could even suggest that you are not part of a working society, if you are too independent. These memes force you into a form of addiction: I call it the “Conforming to the patriarchal society” addiction. Men can become so desperate to follow all these rules in this posts, that they don’t know how to function without following them. I will demonstrate next time how ludacris this false ideal is.
These memes are harmful in my opinion, not only to men but to all of us. They set up and perpetuate stereotypes. They do more harm than good if you ask me and how much more harm they can do will be shown in my next post.