When I mentioned taking ready-to-eat meals to my son-in-law while my daughter was out of town, a friend claimed I was perpetuating stereotypes – in this case, the one of women taking care of men. I knew my intentions, so I didn’t take offense. I didn’t share meals because I thought he wasn’t capable of fixing his own. It was about compassion, letting him know I cared, and checking in with him. Plus, I like to cook, so why not share? There are many things I don’t do well, and I rely on others to help.
There is give and take – in our stereotypes as well. We all behave in some ways that perpetuate stereotypes while behaving in some ways that debunk them. And our reasons vary. Whether it’s to help change toward healthier dynamics and opportunities, avoid doing what we don’t want to do, rebelling what we consider to be the “norm” to simply make a point, or other reasons, we might not even often consider the stereotypes associated with out behavior except when we are fighting them. We need to consider: Are we only willing to look at how we and others are affirming or debunking stereotypes based on our own perspective and preferences? What double standards do we have – for ourselves and others? Are there situations in which the motivation behind the action overshadows the stereotypes?
I told my friend, “I really like to prepare and share meals. In fact, I’d be happy to deliver to you sometime.”
She laughed, “Well, I’d be okay with that.”